How to Care for Yourself When the Storms of Life Hit by Mallory Redmond

How to Care for Yourself When the Storms of Life Hit by Mallory Redmond

Storms can produce a great deal of chaos, often blowing in unexpectedly and wreaking havoc on the peacefulness and order we’d been experiencing. They’re intrusive, violent, and beyond our control.

When I was little, my siblings and I knew the best hiding spot during an infamous Midwestern thunderstorm. We’d crawl into the small guest bathroom with blankets, flashlights, and books, armed with all we’d need to stay in there for the long haul. We knew it was more important to take care of ourselves than to continue whatever we had been doing, whether it’d been productive or not.

As we get older, we find that the storms of life are not purely weather-related. We soon discover that no one is exempt from experiencing a season of hardship that invades our sense of order and challenges our peace. These difficult experiences can feel intrusive, violent, and far beyond our control. And yet, unlike the priority my siblings and I set of taking care of ourselves during a thunderstorm, so many of us continue to push through the storms of life without making any changes in our behavior for the good of our self or our family.

Self-care can be difficult to practice but, in doing so, the storms lose a little bit of their power. Here are ten ways we can take care of ourselves when the storms of life hit:

1. Reach out.

We can choose to face the storms alone, but it’s much more manageable when we call on the support of our community. If it’s storming at your home but sunny at mine, I might have no idea what you’re going through! When circumstances get dark, pull someone (or more!) in to weather it with you. They can offer perspective, provide practical needs, empathize, advise, and pray for you.

2. Clear your plate.

When our circumstances grow to be big, troubling, and overwhelming, it might be time to take some things off of our plate. What extracurriculars are you involved in that you can step away from for a time? Going through difficult seasons can zap us of our energy and demand more spaciousness in our schedule. Maybe we need to make more time for our spouse, our children, or for ourselves and God. Now is the time to review what is requiring your attention and decide whether or not to move away from some commitments for a while.

3. Do something you love.

What brings you life? What reenergizes you and enhances your sense of joy? Do more of that! Maybe it’s a hobby that has fallen by the wayside, or a spiritual practice that brings you a sense of rest and peace. Make time for your knitting, singing, reading, cooking, or outdoor walks. When life feels heavy or difficult, we need more of the activities that awaken our soul. When we make time for that which brings us joy, our day is naturally going to be more joy-filled. This is a necessary part of self-care.

4. Eat well.

Oftentimes, our internal health mirrors our external circumstances. Stress and grief can take a physical toll on our bodies. Now, in the midst of the storm, it is more important than ever to be mindful of what we’re putting into our body. Choose foods that have nutritional value and will give your body the energy it needs to weather the storm. If we eat highly processed foods void of nutrition, we’ll have an even harder time physically coping during seasons of emotional turmoil.

5. Process continuously.

In the midst of a storm, chaos can so easily ensue. Storms can be emotional and confusing; it’s important to continue processing what is unfolding in your life. A counselor, pastor, or trusted friend could all be great candidates to act as a sounding board. Oftentimes, their advice or response is less important than you simply being able to process out loud all that is happening. This practice will continue to be helpful as the storm rages on.

6. Keep the light close.

Just as my siblings and I would grab a flashlight before a summertime thunderstorm, we need to keep the light close during life’s storms—literally and figuratively. Open the curtains and let the light into your home, even when circumstances feel dark. And, let the One who first said, “Let there be Light” inundate every room in your home. Allow God’s presence to lighten your surroundings.

7. Remember the end of the story.

It’s hard to remember that the storm will pass when you’re in the eye of it. Not only is it important to know that this, too, shall pass, but remember that the end of this entire story is one of life and wholeness! The glory that awaits us at the end of our time on earth cannot even be fathomed. Although we’ll endure a great deal of trials and pain to get there, we know, by faith, it will definitely be worth the wait!

8. Guard your home.

Just as we board up our windows before a threatening storm hits, we need to guard our home during seasons of hardship. Communicate with those in your home often, and pray together and for one another. Don’t allow bitterness to build or disagreements to go undiscussed. We can be particularly vulnerable in the storms; maintaining respect, transparency, and a spirit of faith in the home will add a wall of protection.

9. Share your resources.

We can easily (and understandably!) become a little self-focused in the midst of practicing all of this self-care. Chances are, however, that if a storm is raging in your life, there’s one wreaking havoc in someone else’s you know, as well. It is good and honorable to take care of yourself, but it could also bring you life to step out and offer aid to someone else who is in a dark place. It will help to take the focus off of your hardship, even if only for a short time, and allow you to be a source of encouragement to someone who is also wading through a painful season.

10. Look for the good.

When everything feels terrible, it’s all the more important to call out what is good (there is something, I promise!). Make it a regular practice to name what is good, even if it is “only” that you woke up this morning. When we name what is good, we take away a little bit of power from what is awful. What else is good!?

The storms will come, and then they will come again, but they don’t have to barrel us over each time. A little self-care can go a long way in weathering the inevitable storms of life. It might not be as adventurous as crawling into the guest bathroom with all the makings of a great fort, but it is practices like these that will help see us through hardships in a healthy and hopeful way.

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