We are always rushing. Rushing to get kids to school on time, rushing to get chores around the house, rushing to pick the kids up, rushing to the doctor, cross-country practice, faith formation, Mass — it seems like we can’t even catch our breath!
Even though we try our best to limit the activities to things that we really value as a family, it seems like we can’t help always being on the run. And inevitably, when you start to feel overwhelmed and like you can’t take much more, you get this advice from well-intentioned friends, family members, and self-help books:
You’ve got to remember to take care of yourself.
Ah yes, “self-care” — the age-old wisdom handed out to parents, teachers, therapists, nurses, and practically everyone out there right now. But when you respond with a question like “What actually is self-care?” the response you get is something along the lines of, “It’s whatever you like to do that helps you feel rested and happy!”
Now maybe you’re better than me at coming up with exactly what that looks like, but I’m often left wondering what I’m actually supposed to do!
What do I enjoy doing? What does leave me feeling relaxed? I stand there scratching my head trying to figure it out, and before I know it, my phone is buzzing to remind me it’s time to pick the kids up again!
So, in an effort to help people like me, I’m here to give you a list of three ideas (and three ways to Catholic them up a bit) so you don’t have to do the hard work yourself:
1. Take a walk (Catholic it up by praying the Rosary)
I know, I know — exercise. But hear me out: taking a walk isn’t only about getting your body moving, it’s about putting yourself into the present moment. Many of our feelings of anxiety and depression are tied to the fact that we aren’t living in the present moment. We’re stuck reliving and re-experiencing past trauma, we’re anxious-ridden about something that’s coming up in our near future, or we’re losing our cool over an inconvenience that’s actually minor but feels major because we’re so engrossed in it.
Taking a walk, looking around at nature and everything going on around us, forces our minds out of that anxious loop and into experiencing nothing more than what’s happening in the now.
Try making it a color walk: walking around and trying to identify each color of the rainbow, in order, as it occurs in nature. Focusing your mind on a task like this, as simple as it seems, keeps the racing thoughts of fear, anxiety, and depression at arm’s length and gives you a moment of peace.
2. Read a book (Catholic it up by making it something about the faith)
Put the phone down and read a book! There’s just something so peaceful about being able to curl up with a nice novel and a cup of coffee, especially with Fall weather finally upon us. I realize it can be hard to find the time, with kids practically crawling all over you every waking hour of the day, but consider waking up early (like, early early), making that fresh cup of coffee or tea, and sitting down to read before anyone jumps up out of bed demanding cereal.
Engaging your mind in a good book not only helps you grow, but also brings about a peace that all these glowing screens rip away without us even realizing.
3. Donate your old stuff (Catholic it up by giving it to a Catholic organization)
Get rid of something! Sometimes, that feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious can be caused by just having too much clutter around the house. Take a weekend to go through a room and get rid of some things, and I don’t mean things that are broken or worn out, but really take an inventory and pass along some things that you no longer need, but are still in good condition for the next person to use!
There are few things that bring about a sense of calm and peace like emptying your home of all the clutter and helping someone in need at the same time!
So, the next time you feel like your cup is starting to spin over, take some time to engage in a little self-care, and feel free to grab something off of this brief list so you don’t have to worry about trying to be creative at at time when you probably can’t be!
Copyright 2019 Tommy Tighe