Let’s face it, even if you’re health conscious or trying to move more in that direction, there are just. those. days. You know, the days when no matter how amazing your intentions are, you can’t seem to make the healthy choices you know you want to be making. Sometimes it’s a lack of willpower, sometimes there are most pressing priorities, other times it’s a day filled with a million distractions. Maybe you’re just tired, sick, or emotionally spent (or pregnant! haha :). Your reasons could be different than mine, but I’m sure you’ve got them.
On days like this, we have a few choices…you/we can:
1. Beat yourself into submission… in which case you might make what appears to be the healthy self-care choice, but because you had to 100% guilt yourself into doing it, your soul remains empty, unnourished, and little to no true self-care was actually accomplished.
2. Give up. This option is equally dangerous, because typically what follows (at least in my experience) is a litany of negative self-talk that leads me to despair that I will ever reach the goals that I have for that particular area of self-care.
3. Push through. This is different than beating yourself up, this is tapping into a deeper part of your soul, leaning into the power of God, your ‘inner why’, or mentally sorting through the thoughts or emotions that could be convincing you that you can’t make the right choice, when really you can! Totally different than a guilt motivation, this is a chance to envision a successful choice, and finding the strength and inspiration to overcome in the midst of difficulty.
4. Give in. This might sound counter-productive, and perhaps initially it is. However, I’ve found that there are usually reasons why my soul needs a break from the health routine. What does it mean to give in? It is very different from giving up. Giving in means that you listen to what is really going on inside of yourself, instead of plowing past the inner nudges that might serve as important soul-care indicators. (ie. you had a rough day, a drive-through salad is the best you can do, and taking a few minutes while you wait in the line to process what is going on…)
Giving in also means asking for help. Is there someone who you can team up with to meet that health / self-care goal? This could mean: calling a friend to exercise with, making chores fun by teaming up with family / roommates, or spending ten minutes in meditation and prayer, without fretting that that’s all the time you have. This last option is ultimately about admitting that we can’t do it all, and that we were never intended to get it all right, all the time. We might get some things right, all of the time, or all things some of the time, but all things all of the time? It’s not going to happen, unless your soul dies in the process (or you’re just not human)… This last option is also a good pre-cursor to following through with #3 – listening in to your thoughts and emotions, before you decide if it’s a time to push on or let down.
If you are a follower of Christ, the real bottom line is that all our efforts are completely worthless, unless we are abiding in Him. Without Him we can do what? Some things? Most things? No, apart from Him we can do nothing. And friends, that includes your best intentions of being healthy, eating better, exercising, caring for your relationships, etc. Because on the days when you’re spent and really could just use a bowl of chocolate ice cream? That could be exactly the self-care that you need, just sitting with Jesus and that lovely bowl of ice cream.