What does it mean to live a life of love? When we ponder this phrase, generally our thoughts take us outward - how am I giving and serving those around me who are in need? How am I speaking to my partner, my children, my coworkers? This of course, is a crucial factor, but we often neglect to see that living in love also has an inward application. For some people, it is easier to focus on others to the point of working themselves to the bone. What is the balance? How do you be loving toward oneself without risking vanity and without neglecting others? It is important to know when to step up and when to take a step back, so here are some helpful steps to keep you from burning out:
Rest is not a luxury, it is essential. Our bodies need sleep every night in order to function well. In the same way, we need intentional rest from work on a daily and weekly basis. It is all too easy to focus on the weighty checklist each day holds. Even after a long week of work, usually the weekend is reserved for all of the personal to-dos that have piled up over the week. Studies have shown that people actually work harder and more efficiently when they work six days a week with one day of rest, rather than seven full days. It may sound counterintuitive and difficult, but if you set aside a day each week, or even just a morning where you do something that rejuvenates you, you will not only relish this time, you will work harder knowing that a rewarding respite is just around the corner. Schedule a massage, go on that hike you’ve been meaning to go on, sleep in, read a book, go to the movies with a friend. Things will come up, but it’s important to hold this time sacred. Learn to say no, or if you simply cannot, reschedule your time with you for another time in the week.
Like tending a garden, tending the emotions of the heart is time-consuming and detail oriented. But it is important to take measures toward understanding the beautiful complexity of who you are and learn how to wield your emotions rather than the other way around. When unhealthy thought patterns and insecurities send you spiraling down, do not be afraid to confront these emotions head on. What are your triggers? What thoughts are you hearing in your head? Discern the lies from the truths. If you are a verbal processor, grab a close friend to help you talk it through. If you are a non-verbal processor, practice breathing meditations and keeping a daily journal to write your thoughts down.
The Power of Words.
Words hold a power and magic beyond our understanding. We often live into the words that are spoken over us. If a child is continuously told he is “bad,” odds are he will begin to believe it himself and live into this name. The same is true for a child who is spurred on by constant reminders of how good, strong, and capable they are. Think of a time when you felt confident, empowered, and at your very best? What was your mindset? What were you doing in that situation? What kind of feedback were you receiving from others? File away that positive affirmation and keep it handy for a day that you really need it. The same holds true for others. Calling out the good in others and being quick to encourage them spreads confidence to both the giver and receiver!
As we all know too well, there is a high tide and low tide. Some days it’s easy to live like Tigger, and other times we drag around like Eeyore. It’s hard work to practice positivity. We need constant reminders to inspire us and help us remember who we truly are. On a notecard, write down a favorite quote that never fails to lift your spirits and post it somewhere you can see it everyday - the bathroom mirror, on the dashboard of your car, somewhere you can't miss it.
And last but certainly not least, practice gracefulness. Don't forget that grace never tires and never runs out. Grace waits to take you up in its arms each and every day with newfound strength and beauty.