Do you ever find that you are always making others a priority over yourself? I have recently been listening to the amazing new podcast series called Thriving Beyond Belief, hosted by Cheryl Scruggs [she is SUCH a sweet woman]. In listening to Cheryl’s amazing podcast series, I have heard her ask each guest thus far what ‘thriving’ means to them. In hearing this question over and over [and also the amazing answers of each woman interviewed] it has brought me to think about what thriving actually means to me.
Thriving to me means functioning in all areas of life fully and wholly, prioritizing my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health in all that I do and seeking consistently to bring Jesus into the fabrics of every detail of my life to maintain that consistency.
My answer for thriving touches many areas, but one specific aspect of life it involves is the area of HEALTH and WELLNESS. In reflecting on my most recent blog post, about my health journey [read more here!], I have found that in sharing my struggle with finding overall balance, I have had to find significant ways to make myself a priority despite my normal tendencies, or the influences of culture and society.
In many ways, thriving, and finding balance within health and wellness means that I actually have to consider all aspects of health in my life before I give to others in every capacity. In one interview, Cheryl speaks to Kat Harris of The Refined Woman, a lovely woman who I admire greatly and had the pleasure of meeting while in NYC. As Kat answers the question of thriving, she touches on something specific that really stood out to me. In the bible it states to “love your neighbor as yourself” [Mark 12:31]. Thinking about this verse in the bible really made me think on a deeper level about how much we actually focus on the second half of this verse: taking care of ourselves. If after all we are not whole and healthy, we will be like a dry well and have nothing but scraps to give out to our neighbors. Which brings me to, how then will we be able to TRULY love our neighbors as ourself, if we don’t show ourselves love and care?!
In this particular season of life, thriving looks very specific for me. It means structuring my days thoughtfully ways and scheduling my weeks very strategically to be sure I incorporate enough time for rest and rejuvenation. I’ve listed below some of the key ways that I seek to thrive wholly, and fully for the benefit of my overall health and wellness.
1.Planned “ME” nights.
Often I look at the week ahead and ensure that I have at least one to two days of no evening plans. ZERO. While I may be tempted by last minute invites or activities, I have to actively schedule my own personal “busy nights”: meaning to everyone else I am busy, but to myself I am resting and seeking peace. Oh how I just live for these nights!
I find the structure of my days can sometimes end up all over the place if I don’t try to have some sort of game plan. Lately, I’ve been writing out a daily schedule for myself that includes 30 minutes of coffee and quiet time in the morning followed by a 1 hour worship walk or journal time. This sometimes means getting up as early as sunrise to ensure I have enough time for my wellness routine. I also schedule in 5-10 minute mental breaks throughout the day where I practice breathing, meditation and prayer. In the evenings, I am extremely strict about my bedtime and make sure I am in bed before midnight (well, most of the time). Having some sort structure to my days helps me to stay focused and prioritize my health routine.
3.SLEEP… and plenty of it!
Oh my goodness sleep is a huge huge factor in being able to thrive! I think I’ll have to eventually do an entire post on sleep, but for now I’ll just say that SLEEP is essential. BUT alas not just any sleep. We need enough sleep and we need amazing, quality sleep. Like I said before, the phrase “sleep when you’re dead”, just KILLS me each and every time I hear it. We absolutely must make sleep a priority, this is not a joke! To this point, the amount of sleep we need is very specific to each of us individually. I have found my sweet spot these days is 7.5 hours for true rejuvenation. Some people need 8, some 7, some 6.5. We MUST listen to our bodies and see sleep as a truly precious part of our days. It’s not something we should fit in, it is truly something we need to prioritize.
4.Journaling and Reading
Believe it or not, this is a newer one for me. I didn’t start truly journaling until about a year ago, and I just more recently got very into reading books (not just listening to podcasts or audible books). I find there is something so calming for my spirit when I can actually write down my thoughts and feelings, or even my prayers. My favorite combination is reading AND journaling. AKA taking notes on what I am reading to ensure I am really absorbing it, and also so I can easily go back to reference it at any point in time. Journaling and reading provides a unique and restful escape from the rest of my normal day.
5.Choosing Healthy, Balanced Meals
This one is quite complex I realize, because it can be SUCH a challenge. I have spent a lot of time figuring out what foods make me feel the best. My biggest advice in this category would be to not listen to all advice from any ONE specific diet. Our bodies are each so intricately different and thus affected by different foods. We have to figure out what is best for US and our bodies specifically. You are unique, and just as YOU are unique your diet should be crafted just for you. For me, the bulletproof diet has worked wonders so I have focused on a combination of this lifestyle plus some other nuanced preferences.
6.Limiting Social Media
Oooof this one is hard… especially for me when both of my jobs are in social media!! But alas, anything we put too much a focus on can become an idol. If your first instinct upon waking is to check your social media, you may want to rethink your current habits. If you end up staying awake for an extra hour than your bedtime because you get sucked into a warp of insta-stories and liking beautiful photos… you MAY want to consider shutting your phone off 1-2 hours before bedtime. I say all of these habits because I have fell victim to them many many manyyyy times. I will be so honest with you, it can be a daily struggle! However,social media isn’t going anywhere. The posts will still be there tomorrow. I urge you to think to yourself, w is more important: an extra hour of sleep or making sure you watch every detail of your friends daily adventures?
OH, also! Something I rarely do yet HIGHLY suggest is taking a social media fast 1 day a week. One FULL day without social media of any kind. This kind of mental rest forced you to be stimulated by something other than the filler of social media… like, say maybe your bible or inspirational reading!
7. Creating Room for Flexibility!
This can be easier said than done in a culture that tells us that filling our days to the brim is normal and needed. Moving to LA has made me really realize that I cannot have days that looks like coffee, then work, then quick coffee with a friend, then squeezing in a quick workout, then cocktail hour, then dinner, then a last minute event, then bed (super PAST my bedtime I might add)… we need to have space in our weeks for being flexible. Being flexible means that if you have a specifically hard or stressful day you do can actually take the night off and do something for yourself to rejuvenate. Being flexible means when a friend is seriously in need you can actually take time to run to their support and encourage them. Being flexible means allowing God to have more SPACE in your everyday. I get it you guys, I am a type A personality and having flexibly does not come easily to us type A’ers. But I have worked on diligently embracing flexibility in my overall nature and schedule as a priority… and boy has it made a difference!
All that being said, what does thriving and being healthy mean to you? How do you seek to thrive and find balance daily? How can you do a better job to seek thriving as a means to benefit your overall health and wellness?
Photos by Anna Sandul