Welcome to Self-Care Saturdays, a series of bonus blog posts that will be released on the last Saturday of each month. In a world where we are constantly faced with demands on our time and energy, it can feel impossible to slow down enough to pay attention to our own needs and take steps to care for them. These articles are meant to get you thinking about one small step you can take today to practice kindness and care for yourself.
Simplicity has become an increasingly popular concept in our culture. In a time when technology is advancing faster than we can keep up, multitasking is the norm, and we’re constantly accessible through our phones and emails, we can feel overwhelmed by complexity in our lives. De-cluttering and minimalism are trends made popular by Marie Kondo and other organization gurus. We find ourselves reminiscing about “the good old days” where life was just a little bit slower and a whole lot simpler.
This summer I read a childhood favorite book series of mine: Little House on the Prairie. As I read, I thought about pioneers and felt a longing in my heart to live in the simplicity of that generation. When I'm overwhelmed by stress and complexity in my life, it is easy to forget how technological advances have made our lives simpler and more automated. I find a need to balance using technology to create more simplicity in my life without letting it rule over me.
It can feel near impossible to create simplicity in your life. You may be in a season where simplicity is unrealistic because of the demands of family or career. Often, as we grow older and gain more responsibilities, simplicity seems like a pipe dream. We need to begin to create simplicity by eliminating the extras that add unnecessary overwhelm to our lives so that that we can focus on the areas that bring us life and that fit alongside our values.
How can you create more simplicity in your life?
Stop for a moment and notice your breath. When was the last time you physically felt the breath in your body as you inhale and exhale? This process is unconscious: we can go for days without actually noticing our breath. Slow down today and remind yourself to breathe. Practice mindfulness exercises or meditation throughout your day. Use a meditation app like Headspace to do a daily meditation or to meditate at various points throughout the day.
Take a Sabbath each week.
I’m a recovering perfectionist. I have a tendency to overfill my schedule to the point of overwhelm and sometimes even burnout. When I see this happening in my life, I know that I need to prioritize a day off for myself. A Sabbath is my go-to way both to recharge myself and to spend time reconnecting in my relationship with God. Spend one day a week intentionally doing things that refresh you and help you to go back into your work recharged.
Allow yourself to feel bored.
With the easy accessibility of iPhones and media, we are constantly within reach of being entertained. Because of this, we have become intolerant of boredom. When we feel bored, we can always find a way to keep our minds occupied and our thoughts entertained. When you notice yourself becoming bored, allow yourself to sit in that emotion instead of immediately seeking a way to be entertained. If you’re standing in line, choose not to check your phone. If you’re waiting for an appointment, choose to sit and wait rather than finding a way to distract yourself.
Get rid of clutter and unnecessary items in your home.
It can be easy to accumulate massive amounts of material things over the years. Sometimes we don’t even know how we got it, but our home is suddenly full of "stuff". Often we don’t need or even really want some of these items, but the effort it takes to get rid of them can feel like too much. Spend a day going through your closet or drawers and clear out anything you don’t love. As Marie Kondo suggests in her book, save the items that bring you joy and trash or donate all the remaining items.
Say “no” more often.
Simplicity in our schedules is near impossible when we have overcommitted ourselves. It can be easy to say yes to everything we are asked, especially if we’re people pleasers. In her book The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst talks about learning to say no more often so that we can give our best yes to the commitments that align with our values, bring us life, and fit within our gifting. Save your yes for those moments, and begin to practice the tough work of saying no.
Multitasking wears on our brain as we’re trying to focus our limited attention on several different items at once. Our brains become overloaded by this multiple focus, so we tend to do each task to a lesser quality than we would otherwise. Choose to focus on one task at a time and spend your energy in that one direction of focus before moving on to the next.
How will you choose to press into simplicity this week?
Have you been struggling with feelings of overwhelm or burnout? Do you feel like self-care is a lofty goal that is outside of your reach? At Restored Hope, we’d love to help you find space in your life to live more mindfully and experience care. Our Novi and Ann Arbor counseling offices offer therapy to help you experience freedom from the anxiety and depression that can accompany these seasons of busyness. Give us a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here to hear more about how we can help.