How to Care for Yourself without Being Selfish

{When we’re busy every second and continually running on fumes, then our homes, our children, our relationships, and our jobs suffer. So we need to refuel. This is the final article of a 4-part series about how to do just that – read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.}

 

A few weeks ago, I shared about when I became so sick that my world stopped while I spent 5 days on the couch, in fevered pain. And those 5 days felt like a gift. Because, finally, I had a reason to rest.

I bet some of you can relate – we don’t rest until someone gets sick or breaks a bone. And sometimes, not even then.

Being a life-giver started with God, when he breathed life into Adam’s nostrils (Genesis 2:7). And now giving life to others continues through you and me. Starting at home. Let’s fill our cups in a healthy, non-selfish manner so we can flourish as we become the women God created us to be, blossoming exactly where He has planted us.

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But nobody else is going to force us to refuel. Nobody is going to shove a book in our hands and say, “Sit! Read this now, and don’t get up until you feel refreshed!”

Filling our cups is up to us. But we need to be careful.

We are absolutely better wives, mothers, employees, friends, and homemakers when we take time to refresh and uplift our spirits. But, while rest isn’t something we should suffer without, it’s also not something we’re entitled to.

Because when we fill our cups to the detriment of our homes or our families, we’ve lost perspective and have put ourselves on a stolen pedestal.

Do you see how either extreme can be damaging? When we’re running on empty, we’re often shorter tempered, tired, and worn down. But when we only concern ourselves with “me time” to the point of regularly neglecting everything else, we can easily slide into selfish attitudes that demand more and more time off.

Let’s seek the balance. And when we swing too much to one extreme or the other, let’s repent.

Now is the time to turn the TV off, set our phones down, and spend 15 – 30 minutes doing something that renews the spirit. This isn’t time to photograph our Instagram-worthy resting activity or to share updates on Facebook. This is time to be alone, refreshing, without feeling a need to justify or explain our rest.

How to Prepare for Rest:

When we’re in the daily grind of life, sometimes we get so busy doing things for others that we start to lose ourselves. We forget to rest. We don’t think we have enough time.

But everyone can find 15 minutes in their day.

Filling our own cup needs to be on the priority list, but it doesn’t have to be an elaborate time-consuming affair. It can be simple. Obtainable.

I encourage you to prepare yourself in advance for rest, so that it’s more likely to actually happen. You can do this by making a list of simple things that refresh you. Keep your list somewhere you won’t lose it, like your bathroom mirror or taped to the inside of your closet door.

I’m showing you my list to give you some ideas. Use this as a springboard when you’re thinking about simple ways you can fill your own cup.

9 Ways I Fill My Cup in 15 Minutes or Less:

  • Read a chapter in a good book (See the books I’ve read so far in 2016 here)
  • Ride my bike
  • Play the piano
  • Bake muffins or a cake (See my favorite chocolate cake recipe here)
  • Write (hand-written note to a loved one, rough draft of blog article, or journal entry)
  • Sip a cup of tea
  • Watch the sunset
  • Sit on the porch and listen to nature
  • Lay in a dark, quiet room to think, pray, or nap

Tips for Your Own 15 Minutes:

1) Don’t worry about relaxing perfectly.

For a long time, I wouldn’t play the piano at all because my skill level had dropped so much since high school. I was discouraged because I felt like I needed to play the hardest songs I’d ever learned in order for it to count.

But, really, I just needed to play.

Not to be great. Not to impress anybody. But because my soul is filled when my fingers glide across the keys. So I pulled out easier pieces and felt the tension release from my body as I created music.

It doesn’t matter that we no longer do something at our greatest potential. What matters is that we’re doing something we love, just because we love it.

2) Think about what you loved as a child.

If you don’t know what will refresh you, think about what you enjoyed doing as a kid – did you love reading? Maybe digging in dirt or taking walks was your thing. Maybe you loved playing an instrument or singing. Whatever it was, write it on your list and try it out!

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3) Be realistic about what you can do in 15 minutes.

Scrapbooking or crafting may refresh you, but can you really pull out the supplies, make progress, and put everything back away in just 15 minutes? Me either!

Let’s save those projects for when we can carve out an hour or more, and focus on the 15-minute items for now so we’re not left with a huge energy-draining mess when our time is up.

4) Set up a Relaxation Basket

Did knitting or crocheting land on your list? Or hand-lettering? Gather all of the supplies you need to do that activity and place them in a pretty basket. So the next time you have 15 minutes, you can spend all of that time actually working on the activity instead of setting up or cleaning up!

5) Don’t touch that phone! (And pay attention to how you feel after you relax.)

How many times have we had a few minutes to spare while dinner simmers or we’re waiting in the car-pool line? And then used those minutes to scroll through Facebook or Instagram, browse the Internet, or play games on our phones?

But let’s start paying attention to how we feel after – are we really charged up and feeling awesome after we spend 15 minutes looking at everyone else’s highlight reel on Facebook? Or are we more refreshed if we take that time to write a letter to an elderly relative or read the next chapter in a book, instead?

Really paying attention to how we feel after – not just during – an activity will give us a lot of insight to the items that should, and should not, be on our 15-minute list.

Related Articles

Friend, I have enjoyed this series so much – writing it and preparing photos has filled my own cup, and I hope you’ve been blessed by it as well! If you’ve missed the other three articles in this series, definitely check them out by clicking the links below:

Part 1 (Introduction): Fill Your Cup: Resting When the To-Do List Isn’t Complete
Part 2 (For the Homeschool Moms): 5 Books that Will Help You Slow Down, Savor Your Kids, and Rediscover Your Love of Homeschooling
Part 3 (For Every Woman): 8 Books that Will Help You Break Free from a Too-Busy Schedule
Part 4 (Today’s Article): How to Care for Yourself Without Being Selfish

And don’t forget to check out my favorite recipe for an 8-ingredient, incredibly moist chocolate cake that tastes amazing, won’t mess up your kitchen, and will turn you away from box mixes forever!

Share in the comments: What revives your spirit? How can you find time in your day to nurture your soul?


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  1. […] Reading: How to care for yourself without being selfish and 8 books that will help you break free from a too-busy […]

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