Why Regular Rest and Soul-Care Are More Important Than Going on A Vacation
Our family recently returned from a glorious beach vacation. It was probably the best vacation we’ve had post-kids. It was sunny, restful, and our kids actually slept well (What? Who ARE these kids?) But the week revealed something important to me… while vacations are lovely, they are not as important as REGULAR times of rest. I embarked on vacation with little capacity for God and others because of how exhausted, burnt out, and emotionally drained my soul was.
If you are following along with Habits of the Heart this week, we are practicing the spiritual discipline of “Caring For Yourself,” aka self-care or soul-care. I am passionate about this topic because I believe almost everyone’s soul is starved for rest, peace, and refreshment. Self-care doesn’t just happen – we need to fight for it. This only happens by being intentional to carve out space in everyday life to care for our heart, mind, and body – all of which make up the soul. When we take the time to care for ourselves, it creates space in our heart for God and others.
Here are 3 ways to incorporate times of self-care into your life without traveling to the tropics:
1. TAKE A TIME OUT
I have two very important due dates on the horizon – the birth of our third baby girl and the deadline of a new devotional I am writing with my sister. Every writer out there knows that the months leading up to a book deadline are the hardest. Every spare moment is spent fine-tuning your project and you are always faced with the harsh reality that your writing can always be improved. I went on vacation feeling the weight of this deadline, while experiencing all the physical strains of being pregnant (hello, insomnia). My exhaustion impacted my relationship with my husband, my girls, and with the Lord. I just wasn’t enjoying the people in my life because I was continually fixated on how much I had to do. But while on vacation, I gave myself permission to let go of work for an entire week. Instead, I rested, slept, and read a book for fun. It allowed me to re-connect with myself and with those I love. Now, I realize that vacation isn’t real life and we all have stuff to do. However, I think everyone’s soul needs a break. Even Jesus had to take a break and withdraw from everyday responsibility (Luke 5:16). If Jesus took breaks, how much more do we need to? Now that we are back from vacation, I am giving myself permission to take a breather from work and responsibilities. This might look like taking a Sabbath – a whole day set apart for rest and refreshment (and you know what – this is actually commanded of us in Exodus 20:8-10 so… I’m thinking it’s pretty important). Or maybe this looks like skipping all house chores one day a week and getting take-out for dinner in order to have time and energy to do something fun with my kids. Regular breaks can absolutely happen! We just need to give ourselves permission to take them!
2. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
You know you need some soul-care, but maybe you don’t have a clue where to begin. Well here is my suggestion – caring for your body is a great first step to care for your soul. Your physical body cannot be separated from your souls – they are intertwined. It is difficult to connect with God (or anybody for that matter!) when you are exhausted, uptight, or feel just plain crappy. My husband and I both underwent an intense Masters program that required us to take a 3-week retreat of solitude in Washington State. Almost everyone I know who went on this solitude retreat had a similar experience the first few days…We all slept…a lot. The therapist/spiritual director who guided us through the retreat encouraged us to listen to our bodies and let go of feeling guilty for sleeping for three days straight. God created our bodies and he knows what we need. He doesn’t suggest we rest – he commands it! Read Psalm 23 and Psalm 103:14 if you need further convincing. Maybe your journey of self-care begins by taking better care of your body. Perhaps this looks like talking a walk a few times a week, eating healthier, drinking more water, or going to bed earlier. Your body tells you when it’s unhappy – you just need to pay attention to the signs.
3. TAKE A BREAK FROM TECHNOLOGY
While on vacation, I decided to completely unplug from social media for the entire week. I didn’t even take a single picture because my phone wasn’t near me. (All the pictures on this post are thanks to my talented husband). The first few days of being off social media felt a bit like a detox. I feared being out of the loop or missing an important invitation. I felt anxious when I realized I had been away from my phone for days at a time. However, I soon realized that there was no place I’d rather be in that moment than where I was. I think of how many times I could experience this at home too – sweet moments of playing on the floor with my babies, or sipping wine around the fire pit with friends, or even quiet space to read the Word and reflect with the Lord. How often do I choose social media over being present with these special people and moments? I’m recognizing how social media causes me to become distracted, a poor listener, and how it has hindered my ability to deeply connect with others. I realize I recently wrote a post related to this but I just feel like this topic is so dang important. My soul needs to connect with the people around me, and I simply cannot do this well with a phone in my face.
So there you have it. Think about engaging in some soul care this week. Give yourself permission to take breaks, be intentional to care for your body, and unplug every now and then from technology. I promise not only will you benefit from the soul-care, but those around you will also reap the benefits as well!
Allow to Jesus’ Words move you towards self-care:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
-Matthew 11:28-30 MSG