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Tips for Self-Care

Thoughts compiled by Cynthia Gill MA, LMFT.

There is a cost to caring for and reaching out to troubled people!

However, we need to be wise to care for ourselves so that we can stay healthy emotionally (just as we do physically, by washing our hands, etc. to prevent germs from harming us). Here are some suggestions to help ourselves to "decompress" when we have had a stressful time with a hurting person:

1) Exercise This is not optional! It dissipates the adrenaline & cortisol that is released when we are stressed. It also releases endorphins. Generally, 35 minutes 4 times a week is minimal. If we experience stressful thinking (like intrusive thoughts, re-playing of traumatic events in our mind) then exercise is key in helping ourselves get free from these.

2) Meditation We need to learn to quiet ourselves. Sitting in the presence of God, quieting our hearts for even a few minutes is vital. In the western cultures we are so busy that our minds do not learn this skill very readily. Yet, busyness without a break to quiet ourselves exacerbates anxiety. Finding a Scripture to meditate on often helps replace the stressful thoughts. Phil. 4:8

3) Journaling There is something about writing that helps crystallize our thinking. I find it especially helpful to express myself in a short paragraph, then ask God for an encouraging Scripture to help rejuvenate me. The Psalms are full of such things:\David vents in the beginning of them, and then they end with his focus on God. He also calls evil for what it is. We

can distance ourselves from the lies by

recognizing the huge battle for our minds,

and gaining a clearer view of who we are in Christ.

4) Healthy friends We know that bad company corrupts good character (I Cor 15:33) and the companion of fools suffer harm (Prov.13:20). A very important aspect of our work as those who care for hurting ones is to find some healthy, encouraging friends that we can connect with regularly.

5) Hobbies and activities that bring satisfaction When we work with our hands and do something productive that we can see the results, it is very encouraging to our soul. This can be something like scrap booking, gardening, or simply scrubbing the tub. One therapist said he loved to mow the lawn, because it is something that actually got done and he could see it, unlike his work that seems never done and difficult to see results in. If you play a musical instrument that is helpful because it engages both sides of the brain, and thus helps us to get refreshed, concentrating on something completely different.

6) Sleep and eat adequately. Your body needs to be at optimum functioning to give your best to these fragile people. Personal discipline is vital. Drink plenty of water, less sugar& caffeine. Fasting one day a week I believe is a normal part of Christian discipline, helping us to regulate our appetites and hear God more clearly. At least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep rejuvenates your mind and body.

7) Boundaries! Be aware of your limitations, say "no" and "enough" wisely so you do not get over­ extended. Remember, you are not the Savior. Matt. 11:28 Also take one day a week to not hurry.

8) Keep your relationship with Jesus alive. If you are using your quiet time to prepare Bible studies or devotionals for others, you are neglecting your own spiritual life. Spend time worshiping Him and loving Him. How can we give what we don't have?

A Poem for reflection:

He gives more grace when the burdens grow greater,

He sends more strength when the labors increase;

To added affliction He adds His mercies,

To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed 'ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,

Our Father's full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit,

His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He gives and gives and gives again.

- Annie Johnson Flint

For further assistance, please call 763-566-0088 and speak to our Client Services Coordinator or stop by the NewPath Mental Health Services office at 8401 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 340, Golden Valley, MN 55426 to find out about services you are interested in.


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