At a recent family gathering, as the grandchildren zoomed through the room, our two-year-old granddaughter stopped in mid-run and announced, “I’m wide-open” before resuming her full-tilt forward motion. Not long after, she was clutching a blanket and staring, fighting the exhaustion that was steadily overtaking her.
Often, we know we are over-extending ourselves, but do nothing to slow the full-out pace. We take on volunteer roles, add major projects to our to-do list, purchase items we don’t need, and push beyond exhaustion to cross things off our bucket list. But reflection, rest, and renewal are crucial for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, so consider the following ways to dial back wide-open:
Often, we know we are over-extending ourselves, but do nothing to slow the full-out pace.
Sometimes, we make planning and implementation harder than they have to be. It’s possible to have a happy and successful family gathering, party, or weekend getaway without turning it into a major production. While our culture screams for more entertainment and greater levels of “wow,” be the one who spontaneously invites friends and family for an impromptu gathering with minimal props and little-to-no planning.
In a slightly different realm, decide it’s okay to make-do with furnishings, decor, and clothing you already own instead of buying into the hype of click and purchase with the promise of rewards. No matter how great the rewards, you’re still racking up debt with wide-open spending and accumulating lots of things you really don’t need.
Leave White Space on Your Calendar
During a really busy week, we tried to sandwich in an appointment on a day with multiple meetings. It seemed doable when initially scheduled, but when the day arrived, we both realized the futility of trying to keep the appointment, so we rescheduled. In years past, we probably would have tried to make it work, but we’ve learned the stress and pressure aren’t worth an overloaded schedule.
Realize that just because meetings, appointments, and social activities fit on your calendar doesn’t mean they will geehaw in reality. And it’s important to leave yourself some wiggle room for days when you’re tired or want the flexibility to do something fun.
Include “No” in Your Vocabulary
The best way to ensure white space on the calendar is to add an under-utilized word to your vocabulary—NO. Often, we say “yes” when our bodies and brains are begging no. I’m not sure why unless it’s because we’re afraid we will offend or miss out on something. But “no” is an important word in combating the wide-open mentality and you shouldn’t feel guilty for just saying “no.”
Make Sleep a Priority
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over a third of American adults don’t consistently get enough sleep. The reasons vary, but often the causes include over-stimulation from caffeine consumption, excessive screen time, or just not allowing ourselves get in bed at a reasonable time. But too little sleep has an impact on energy levels, cognitive function, and patience. By making sleep more of a priority, you give yourself a gift that has a positive impact on many areas of your life.
Many of us spend lots of money feeding our physical bodies, but fall short in the spiritual nourishment department. But spiritual health is an important part of overall health and suffers when not nourished. Spending time in nature and expressing thanks to Creator God for its beauty and your blessings is a good place to start, but go beyond that to scripture reading, quiet reflection, and prayer.
Jesus modeled drawing apart from the noise and confusion of the world and making time for rest. Slowing down, listening, and thinking about spiritual things is a vital part of spiritual renewal. Value and nourish yourself spiritually.
“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? Jeremiah 2:25a MSG
Slowing down, listening, and thinking about spiritual things is a vital part of spiritual renewal.