Alarm bells go off in my soul when I’m at the end of my tether. This is their sound. One, overwhelming tiredness that looks like loosing my thought mid-sentence and not even realising I’ve stopped talking. Two, that awful whirring feeling inside like I’m on a hamster wheel and can’t get off because THERE’S TOO MUCH TO DO, and if I don’t keep that wheel moving then the whole world will actually stop spinning on its axis, and it will be my fault, because obviously I’m so important to the worlds entire existence (joke). Three, I’m pretty horrible to be around, i.e. more feisty than normal and with no grace whatsoever. Four, I can’t sleep properly and have nightmares. Five, I either overeat or if I’m already over the edge can’t eat at all. I think that’s enough to be going on with my vulnerability bell is starting to chime. I’m sure you can add your own to my list, pause for a moment, what makes your alarm bells sound?
My temptation is almost always to ignore the early dings until the alarm becomes incessant. Then I hit the snooze button, which looks like addressing the most obvious problem which is enough to stop the noise for a while but before long the alarm sets off again often louder and more insistent.
I’m learning to care for myself in ways that turn the alarm bells off. I’m leaning into self-care in ways that I never have before. I see it as a gift in this season of my life. In fact i’m seeing many gifts in this season but right now this is the most pressing. I know the things in my life that bring me joy and refill me, thankfully I haven’t had to begin that journey of self-discovery my sense is though that some of you are so far gone and deafened by your alarm bells that you might need to start here by discovering what brings you life. Simply what brings you life?
Here’s a glimpse of my last 7 days of self care. I made a playlist last week of worship music to go to sleep too, useful for the nights when I can’t get over or wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare or anxious. And it worked, I think I heard 2 ½ songs and I was gone. I cooked up a storm, all weekend. I discovered years ago during a period of Post Natal Depression that the therapeutic stirring, chopping, smelling and tasting in cooking was my therapy, it still is. I put on some music, and I made dinner for my family, we sat around the table and we enjoyed the food and each other. Sunday we did all again, different menu, a few adopted in extended family and we ate, we laughed, we passionately discussed, we savoured the food and we lingered over Rhonda’s amazing Lemon Meringue Pie (Mary Berry’s recipe she insisted I can’t imagine hers being any better than Rhondas!).
On Monday I called in the cavalry when I had to get off the hamster wheel but couldn’t find the exit – I text a friend who came to my side and talked me down. Later that night I text my women and asked for prayer and I felt their prayers answered as God filled me with strength again. And today I slept, just a couple of extra hours. It wasn’t my body that required the extra rest but my mind and my soul where oh so weary. Times before I would have felt guilty about this one, the accusing voice in my head telling me “you’re lazy”, but I’m choosing to listen to what I need right now and if thats sleep, I schedule some time for sleep.
How do you care for yourself? and a more pressing question; when did you last do something that was purely to care for yourself?
Our souls are precious and their health is important. Our soul is like a well. It needs replenished and it needs to be kept clean of debris and stagnant water. All the people in our lives that we pour into drink from our wells, this is not a selfish endeavour in fact I’d argue that it a selfless act to care for ourselves. We have one life and I want to run mine and finish my race.