What Practicing Discipline Taught Me About Self Care

If you’ve been following the blog you may know that I’ve endeavored to practice daily discipline in some key areas of my life for the month of July.  Well, being disciplined in reading the bible, attending church, walking the dog, blogging and exercising has taught me a thing or two about self care.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never really paid much mind to the concept of self care and burnout. A lot of people talk about it, but it has never resonated with me. I’m single. I have no children. I have all the time in the world to take care of myself and I do (believe me).

But the past two weeks of taking up the notch on discipline has given me new perspective. There are some days where I literary have no time to sit down and breathe. It’s work, then church, then walk the dog, then read the bible. It’s just go, go, go. Usually I have a lot of time to kick back and unwind at the end of the day.  Not now.

I can see how someone with kids and a spouse would have a challenge keeping it all together without burning out. And then add to it all the things we’re taught, things I convey such as, “Don’t let your feelings dictate your actions. Let your goals dictate your actions.” Yet, sometimes we do need to let how we feel determine what we do next. And we should be able to do that without feeling guilty.

Or how about, “I’ll sleep when I die.” I went to Stay Ready by Eric Thomas & Associates. One of the speakers was the founder of Sleep is 4 Suckers. He said he wore a Sleep is 4 Suckers shirt to a retail store and a woman working there said she didn’t agree with it. His attitude was, “Of course she didn’t. She was working in retail.” But I agree with her. Sleep is not for suckers. Sleep is for me! But we’re taught not to rest. It’s so ingrained in us that we think taking a break is detrimental to our futures. We’re afraid of just unplugging and unwinding. We’re afraid of sleeping.

There are some nights I don’t want to do all that I’ve set out to do. For the most part I’ve been pretty disciplined (minus my eating…yikes!) But I don’t want to be. I want to end the night early and have some me time. I don’t want to read the bible. I don’t want to walk the dog or exercise.  But if I haven’t read the bible I have to read it, because if I already made time to walk the dog I have time to study the word. Put God first. And if I haven’t exercised I can’t slack on that. My eating is hit or miss so I better be 100% on point with at least exercising.

It’s the guilt trip.

If I as someone who has no responsibility to anyone except for me (and my dog and I just give her a chew toy to keep her busy) risks burnout I can only imagine what someone who has much more at stake has to deal with.

So what I’ve learned and what I want to tell you is:

** Sometimes it’s okay and dare I say even necessary to choose your feelings over your goals. Sometimes choosing your feelings better enable you to accomplish your goals. Don’t be afraid to skip a workout or ditch the walk around the neighborhood with the dog simply because “You don’t feel like it.” You don’t need a better answer than that. The key obviously is moderation. You can’t never feel like it, but if you’re on your A game most of the time taking a break is okay. In fact, it’s critical.

** We’ve got to stop guilting ourselves. Nobody’s perfect. You deserve grace. I deserve grace. But as long as we put so much pressure and guilt on ourselves to get it right every time we are bound to burn ourselves out.

** It’s okay to sleep. Go to bed!

I’ve learned that self care is about being disciplined in giving you what you need. It’s choosing you over all else because you are the you that goes with you everywhere. And if you are burnt out, defeated, lethargic, depressed, unhappy, uninspired, clutter-minded, out of focus and in general a mess you will make a mess of your life and the very things and people you’re committed to giving your best.

It’s cliche, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. Being disciplined, although very important in creating your best life, empties your cup. Chasing dreams and goals empties your cup. Church obligations can empty your cup. Family, friends, and spouses empty your cup.

Self care fills it back up again. Stretch yourself to achieve your goals. Stretch yourself to be disciplined. But know that your cup will run low. Fill your cup high and fill it often.

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