Practicing soul care

avatar
About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

We just got back from our road trip (today, in fact — that’s why this post is just now going live), and part of our journey took us to a workshop for families like us, who live and work cross-culturally. One of the main topics was called “soul care,” which is just like it sounds. Caring for your soul.

In essence, it’s typical for people working in a field that focuses on caring for other people to unintentionally neglect themselves. To quote the manual we received, “The epidemic among those [who serve] is vast and long-term spiritual dryness aggravated by life imbalances.”

If anyone is in the line of work of caring for others, it’s parents.
Mother and fatherhood are some of the most service-oriented callings in existence, and many of us are in that field right now. And my suspicion is that there are more than a few of us struggling with “life imbalances.”

Do you feel spiritually dry? Are there days where you feel like you’re going through the motions? Most nights do you hit your pillow hard, aware that, once again, your needs took a backseat to those you’re called to serve? I know this is often the case for me.

This is a good time to take inventory of our wellness, to see how we’re doing in pursuit of any personal habits or goals, and to make a plan to take better care of ourselves if we’re not. Consider it a check-up for your soul.

Last Monday we inventoried our financial health, reminding us, once again, to be intentional and focused in our money management. And on Friday, we discussed a possible approach in making long-term habit change.

Today, let’s evaluate any personal goals we made this year, and if needed, create some new ones so that we’re in the business of “soul care,” and not just for those around us. And in reality, caring for your soul is one of the best ways to care for those you love.

Re-evaluating any “New Year’s Resolutions”

Did you make any goals this past January? Perhaps you used the list of questions we’ve reviewed for the past two years here on Simple Mom, or maybe you just made some traditional New Year’s resolutions. Whatever the case — how is your pursuit in reaching those goals? Are you intentionally practicing habit change and reaping a good harvest from quality sowing at the beginning of 2010? Or are they still even goals?

It doesn’t really matter — now’s not the time to beat yourself up. It is time, however, to stop coasting and ask yourself if you’re well. Are you in pursuit of taking care of yourself? Are you proactively in pursuit of habit change for the better?

If so, awesome. Share with all of us how you’re doing, and be proud of your progress.

If not, then take a moment to ask some questions, and join me in making a plan to take better care of your soul in one small area this fall.

Questions to practice “soul care”


Photo by amanda_munoz

Here are a few questions we were asked at our workshop to help us evaluate how we’re doing. Pick and choose a few that resonate with you, and see if they help shed some light on an area that needs more care. (Also, please note that these have a focus on spirituality, since the workshop we attended was for Christians. If you’re not one, however, you can still use these questions to evaluate your inner being, and to ask yourself some important questions.)

1. What are common sources of performance pressures (either real or perceived) that you experience regularly?

2. What do you feel are essential elements in your life that allow for on-going relational connection to God and spiritual vitality?

3. Where is the disconnect? What can you control? What actions can you take that will provide permission, space, and time to allow for this necessary balance, connection and vitality?

4. What is life-giving to you?

5. Do you ever feel or sense God’s pleasure in you?

6. What is hindering your efforts at maintaining vitality and seeking personal growth internally and externally?

Using these questions to create some goals

Reflect on your answers for a bit. Do they point to any themes? Do they shed some light on anything surprising to you?

For me, I was surprised at a common theme of needing to take better physical care of myself. Most of my answers pointed to a need to get more sleep, exercise, and alone time. So my simple goal for the rest of 2010 is to be in bed by 10:30. This one habit change will help me get more sleep, wake up earlier to have that much-needed alone time with God before the kids rise, and create more rhythm in my life that allows for better soul care.

The upcoming days will be a recovery week for our family, as we focus on laundry, resettling back home from our whirlwind travels, and getting our oldest started in kindergarten. After that, though, I’ll intentionally focus on a 10:30 bedtime, probably using the kaizen method.

Now it’s your turn. For discussion, I’ll borrow some questions from above. What in your personal life can you control? What actions can you take that will provide permission, space, and time to allow for this necessary balance, connection and vitality?

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. Tsh, this is such a timely post for me (and I imagine many others!)

    I know I need more self care and I actually just made a pledge to myself, as the homeschool year starts and I add a little more to my already full plate, to take better care of ME.

    I’ve promised myself a minimum of 5 minutes a day doing some sort of pampering – from plucking my eyebrows to listening to my favorite song to taking the time for a cute hair do (instead of my daily ponytail LOL). Ideally, I’d love to work up to more time …. but five minutes a day seems like a practical, realistic, and manageable start. (I even put it in my google calendar so I get an email reminder)

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. This is such a great, timely article for me to read right now. Often times I forget to take care of the one person who takes care of others… myself :-) Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Articles like this can serve as a wake-up call. They make us remember that balance is key. It’s not always easy to focus on personal and career goals when you got 2 beautiful kids growing up. Often I’m afraid I will miss something if I focus too much on myself and personal goals. Of course I know I shouldn’t feel guilty when I do something for myself, but it’s easier said than done.

  4. This is a wonderful article. I know one of the things that has helped me achieve some of my goals this year is thinking outside of the box. For example, I wanted to pursue some scripture and prayer study. I had gotten away from practicing my religion as I would like and wanted to get that part of my life back on track. I was frustrated because attending the classes held at my church would be difficult. It would require childcare and my husband’s work schedule would not always allow him to be able to help. I decided there had to be another way and found a great online program. So far I have taken two courses. I enjoying what I am learning and the discussions I am having with the other participants. I guess my point is that once I was able to get over feeling sorry for myself I was able to think about alternative ways to reach my goal.

  5. In reading here, one of the things that floated to the surface for me is that I need some concrete things I can do when chaos threatens to spin us all out of control. I know that for me the thing that fills me up and allows me an easy connection with God is a trip to the beach. We’re close by but any place of nature will do. Something else that’s magical for us ismaking tents on the beds or couch will do too.

    Thanks for writing about this. Will look deeper once the kids are in bed:))

  6. Thank you so very much for this beautiful post. As a busy mom caring for her family and mom, this is such a wake-up call for me! I set a similar strategy plan for self care in motion this weekend too. Main focus: Drinking more water!! Thanks again for sharing this valuable information!
    Paula
    http://www.simplysandwich.net

  7. Wow…. I really needed this post today and until now did not know it. Thank you. I’m going to take some time to really think about all of this and ponder these questions.

    Thank you!

  8. Thank you so very much for this beautiful post. As a busy mom taking care of my family and my Mom, this information is so well needed! It is really easy to put myself on the back burner and then I am of no help to my loved ones.

    The area in my life that I really can control is my self care. Without a little focus on myself, I am quickly heading to a “crash and burn” situation. Starting with baby steps…Step one….hydration! I am committing to 6 glasses of good old H20 per day to keep my bod running at peak performance. I will carve out time for other self care strategies in the upcoming steps.

    Thanks again so much!

    Paula

  9. This is a great post – the reflection questions really got me to do just that! I was in conversation today with a cousin who spends her days caring for her elderly parents -I am sharing this and I hope this helps her reflect a little as well.

  10. Thank you for this post. As a social worker by day, and parent by night, I needed the reminder. Well done. :)

  11. Great post! I’m going to give your questions a lot of thought today.

  12. I love this idea of “soul care”, for me it’s finding a decent work life balance so I have the energy to love and support my friend, family, co-workers and my own self. Thanks for sharing these insights today.

  13. avatar
    Herbwifemama says:

    I’m waking up in the mornings before the kids, and taking time to pray. For my husband, and my kids, but also for myself. I pray that God will make me strong (physically, I’m praying for my body here- I’m out of shape, and have recently given birth, and only other mothers understand the toll pregnancy and birthing takes on your body.) and patient and kind, and you know? When I pray, He answers, and I really do better on those days I take time to pray.

  14. Soul Care- fantastic term! Thanks especially for these questions…they are really telling. I love “Do you ever feel or sense God’s pleasure in you?”– WoW. That is an incredible question to reflect and pray over– seems it would be a pretty good indication of something in your life worth spending time doing!

    • I know; I love that question, too. I think it stems from that line from Eric Liddell and made famous in Chariots of Fire — “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

  15. I could really relate to this post. I am a homeschooling mom, helping my husband change careers, rebuilding my own career, which includes continuing education and professional ballet and sports mom.

    When is there time for me? I loved the questions you provided for your readers to help sort through the priorities in their lives.

    I have been doing a lot of soul searching. In the last few months I have become very selfish about my time and have streamlined my focus. I devised my own personal survival strategy called 90 Magic Minutes for Mom.

    You can read about it at this link: http://www.confabulicious.com/90-magic-minutes-for-mom/

    I think it is a great compliment to what you are offering in this post. Thanks for your insights and reminding us that it is OK to take time out.

    Kim

  16. Browsing for the best I wanted to read today, I came across the title, “Practicing Soul Care”. Impressed by the title itself, it made to wonder what nice thoughts would be presented here; it was obvious to me that I am going to get something good out of it. Although I am not a Christian, I paid attention on the questions and feel how important it is to know self and practice soul care; goal setting I believe is the strongest strategy which helps you out to reach the best you can, Life without goal is like a Ship without Sail; All I can say is, hardly had I done something till now to dig out of myself, “My soul”. Talking about my connection with the God, Prayer is the real thing that keeps me in spiritual bond and an unknown touch with the God. Really great words, touched the heart.

  17. This is so awesome! I am going to bookmark and come back during quiet time over the next couple of days. I have been going thru some difficult times as of late and am doing a personal recovery and makeover and these questions will be awesome!

    Bernice

  18. I just adore the Simple blogs! :) I’m not sure if you check all of your link-backs, but I have linked different posts to my message board, bellemamas.com

    Always great info!

  19. I feel that disconnect comes when I start living out of congruence with my values. When things to start feeling rocky, I sit down and ask myself how I am living out of alignment with what’s important and natural for me. It helps…every time. Thanks for the insightful post.

Speak Your Mind

*