Why is it that the more we have on our calendars, the longer our to-do list is, the busier we are, the prouder we get? I meet far too many Christians who seem to wear their busyness as a badge of honor, or their ticket to Heaven. Honestly, it’s foolishness. And we are teaching our children to do the same via a multitude of extra-curricular activities that has their social calendars over-booked! Can all of this go, go, go be good for us? What does God say about it? Let’s take a look and see.
What is Soul Health?
When I talk about “wholistic” health, I mean our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health collectively. The Christian definition of “soul” is our mind, our emotions and our will. I simply break the word “soul” down a little bit further into mental health and our emotional health.
By mental health or our “soul health” I mean things like time-management, budget, career, goal-setting and our purpose in life. When I make suggestions to those seeking my professional help about changes they need to make to improve their physical health, quite often I hear “I don’t have enough time.” Right away a flag goes up for me that the root cause of their physical health problems just might lie in the soul/mental part of their health – time-management in particular.
Why Budgeting Our Time is Good for a Healthy Soul
Our health (wholistically), and keeping it in proper balance, should be top priority in our lives, how else can we expect to do everything else we are called to do, to live optimally? One of the things we need to do, to bring things back into proper balance – and it’s all about balance – is to slow down long enough to plan a budget for our time.
There are only 24 hours in any given day for all of us to spend, that’s it. Many years ago, I worked for a trade association and they had someone come in and assess the time of all of their employees. We had to keep a daily calendar for a whole week and make note of how we spent our time clear down to 15-minute intervals. This in itself might seem like a “time waster” but truly it was quite insightful. I recall that even the assignment itself caused me to be more mindful of how I was spending my time, after all I had to report this to my supervisor, and ultimately it went on up the chain of command to the one who signed my pay check! In a way, I was holding myself accountable of my time.
Even as I write this, I feel like this project instilled in me a sense of not only being mindful of how I spend my time, but valuing it as well. After all, it is ultimately God who has blessed each of us with the gift of time. And truthfully? The bottom line is, we really are the ones who sign our own paychecks whether we are working for someone else, self-employed, running a household, or even born with a silver spoon in our mouth – it’s really how we manage our time and all the other resources that God blesses each of us with as to whether we will live in abundance or not.
Perhaps valuing time is where I have developed the pet peeve of when others take the liberties with my time, and waste it too. Like someone who is perpetually late. I think it is a tremendous disrespect of another person when someone is consistently late, and in a lot of cases, not even apologize for it. I’m a firm believer in starting meetings on time and ending on time.
Be honest with yourself, do you take liberties with other people’s time? I think this happens when one doesn’t value their own time first.
Too often I have heard “well, let’s give them a few more minutes to get here before we start” (referring to the person who is consistently late). No! That’s really a form of enabling someone with other people’s precious resource – time – and disrespecting everyone else who was there on time, and needs to leave on time. Time is something we can never redeem – treasure it, value it and above all, respect others time.
How to Assess Your Time:
I encourage you to take a week, and take the time to implement this exercise. Start by:
- Track your time for an entire week, in 15-minute intervals and see how you spend it.
- Assess the areas that were time wasters for you, or areas that really didn’t contribute to your top priorities in life.
- Once you have determined the time-wasters, create a plan to eliminate them, or at the very least minimize them tremendously.
Time is a gift, and when managed properly, and to the fullest, it provides abundantly to a healthy soul. Our time here on this earth is short. We have a unique purpose assigned to us by God. We don’t have room for chronic time-wasters.
What Does God Say About Rest for Our Souls?
I have worked all of my life, at least starting from around the age of 10 years old. My first paid “job” (other than washing the dishes, dusting the baseboards, and folding pillowcases for an allowance from mom and dad!) I was babysitting my cousins, and some of my parent’s friend’s children. Looking back, I can’t imagine people leaving me with their children at 10 years old, but they did!
Over the following years, I mopped floors, waitressed, worked in a five and dime retail store, a discount department store, a sewing factory (I hated that job, don’t even think about asking me to sew on a button now!). In my 20’s and 30’s I worked various bookkeeping jobs, as an administrative assistant, and multiple self-employed jobs – selling real estate, a chiropractic practice.
In my 50’s and 60’s I managed a health food store – and most recently as the fundraiser for a non-profit. At times over these past 50+ years I worked two, three, and for a brief period, even four jobs at one time. Even going to chiropractic school full-time at almost 40 years old was certainly work.
All of this adds up to busy! All of my life. Until the end of last year, when I unexpectedly lost my job. It was at this point I decided to officially “financially” retire. I know the word “retirement” is not in the Bible, which is why I emphasize the word “financially.” To me this meant no longer relying on an employer for my source of income. Of course, God is truly my ultimate source of income, but you know what I mean.
As exciting as this may sound, as a single woman, I found myself at a loss of what to do with all of the time God had so abundantly blessed me with – and to be honest, I’m still struggling with this. “Rest” is not something I have been very familiar with. So, I thought the best thing to do first, was to see what God was trying to tell me what to do with this new season in life.
This is one of the things God said to me:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’” (Jeremiah 6:16 NLT)
If you were to read further in this chapter it does not fare well for the Israelites who said “No.” Sounds to me like they wanted to do things their way, not God’s. In some ways, I was fighting God on the gift of rest He was trying to bless me with. It’s like I was saying “no” like the Israelites did.
How about a more encouraging look:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
Learn from Me He says. This sounded more inviting to me! And, Who knows better than God what our souls, and our bodies need? Remember, our physical health is connected to our spiritual health, is connected to our mental/emotional health. Now this doesn’t mean that He isn’t giving me new assignments in this new season of life, but He is calling me to rest in the midst of it.
How to Get Rest for Your Soul
For starters, make sleep an absolute priority on your calendar – do not budge on this precious time. Block it off — now. If you have trouble falling asleep, or falling asleep easy enough but wake in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, look for some natural sleep aids to help you. There are a lot of wonderful herbs that are calming and not addictive that you can take. My favorite is ashwagandha, but others like holy basil and lemon balm work well too. If you are already taking prescription medications for sleep or mood disorder(s), consult with your doctor or a pharmacist first. As a side note, the prescription sleep medicines might be knocking you out but they are not putting you in the deep sleep where the body does its best healing and repairing. Same goes for alcohol as a sleep aid. I strongly suggest asking your doctor to work with you in coming off of those meds. It’s scary to me that some people have been on sleep meds and even anti-depressants for sleep for 20 years or more.
How Do I Prioritize Rest for My Soul?
The top physical health priority as it pertains to your time, that is a must have and you cannot, and should not budge on, is time for rest – in particular, sleep. Block that off on your calendar first and work around that from there. May I make a very strong suggestion here? Every single one of us should be blocking off a minimum of 7 hours for sleep. I can just hear the groans, and see the eyes rolling, and those prideful feathers being ruffled right now! But I cannot express to you how extremely important this is to you, your physical health, your children’s health, your spiritual health and even your soul health. And speaking of children, they need 9 hours of sleep minimum.
What Happens if I Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
Lack of proper, sufficient, deep sleep is an extreme stress to the adrenal glands. When the adrenal glands are taxed a whole lot of other functions of the body get taxed as well, it’s a cause and effect. Some symptoms and health conditions that can occur as a result of lack of sleep are:
- Lack of energy (imagine that!)
- Brain fog
- Blood sugar imbalances including diabetes
- Weight gain/inability to lose weight
- Hormone imbalances
- Low libido
- High blood pressure
- Auto-Immune Diseases
- Lowered immunity which opens the doors to a host of even more problems
- And the list goes on and on!
In addition to sleeping a minimum of 7 hours a night (8 is actually better), we need to be asleep at the right time. We should aim to be asleep by 10:00 at night. Our bodies do their most healing and repairing between 10 p.m. and midnight. The main reason we need our proper sleep, is so the body can do all of the functions it needs to do to keep us healthy, and a lot of these things the body only does when we are asleep. If we are not sleeping properly, and at the right time, our bodies lose out and then a decline in our health is inevitable.
Other Time Priorities for a Healthy Spirit, Soul, & Body:
Spiritual time with our Heavenly Father
This should be top, top priority. I would highly encourage you to start each day with quiet time with God. Ask Him for direction for your day. (See my book “Are You Being Deceived About True Wellness” to learn more tips on how to hear God’s Voice). Find a quiet place – a prayer chair, prayer closet, bedroom – anywhere you can be alone with God, even if it is just for 15 minutes each day. Start setting this discipline. You will be surprised at how quickly this time frame can expand – allow it! God is the redeemer of all things, including our time. If you are giving Him your time, He will make sure there is room in your 24 hours for all the other things He finds as priority for you!
If you are still working, you obviously need to make that a priority on your “time budget.” But here is where the wheels can come off the rails. Boundaries. You truly need to maintain boundaries with how many hours a week you are working. Boundaries either with your employer, or with yourself if you are self-employed. This is not being selfish, this is maintaining a healthy soul, and a healthy body – for both you and your family – and even your employer. There is nothing wrong with going above and beyond – on occasion, but if you are consistently putting in 50, 60, 70 and even 80 hours a week at work, in what is supposed to be a 40-hour work week, your employer either thinks you are superman, or superwoman and will give you more work; or they are taking advantage of you. If you don’t respect yourself and your own time, why should they? I have always been a big proponent of keeping work boundaries and balance.
The family unit is very important to God. Unfortunately, our country is declining in placing importance on this. There are too many single-parent households these days. This is all the more reason a priority should be placed on family time. And as I mentioned earlier, there also needs to be great attention placed on teaching our children balance with their time as well. Parents rushing kids off to their multiple commitments is not family time, it’s busy time. I encourage you to slow down, as a family, and spend some leisure time together.
For starters, commit to sitting down, and eating at least 3 meals a week (more is better!) together, as a family. Make that a priority on your children’s calendar as well as your own. Spend time outdoors as a family, enjoying God’s creation, away from the T.V., computer and cell phone, breathing in fresh air, and getting a little exercise – as a family. Family time needs to be a priority on your time calendar. And one last idea regarding family time – work up a time calendar for each of your children as well. Work this with them, so they can learn at an early age the importance of time and balance.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this priority as well. I have a blog coming out shortly on the importance of “putting on your own oxygen mask on first.” If you are not healthy and balanced, there goes the rest of your family and loved ones you are currently tasked with caring for. Or, if like me, you don’t have children, or elderly parents to care for, then your priority is the assignment God has called you to – your purpose. How can any one of us fulfill our purpose in life if we don’t take care of ourselves – wholistic soul care. That’s what “Are You Being Deceived About True Wellness”, is about, how to maintain balance with your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, and the importance of doing so.
Start your day with some quiet, reflective, prayerful, contemplative time. Write down your thoughts and feelings – there is no better counselor than the Holy Spirit! Talk with Him, He’s listening. Take care of your physical health – exercise, healthy eating etc. Pamper yourself a little – even if it’s just some alone time, away from all of the hustle and bustle. I can’t emphasize enough the healing and balance that takes place when out in nature. Make room in your financial and time budget for a little frivolous self-love. Maybe it’s a manicure once a month, or if your physical health allows, indulge in some decadent chocolate. Or love yourself with a little something to spruce up your hair, face or wardrobe. These things too are self-care. Even spending time with a good friend whom you don’t see near enough these days – or if distance is a barrier, then a phone call – allowing lots of time to catch up! All of these, and many more are ways to support your self-care, and lend to the overall goal of soul health.
This might sound like you are having to make time for a chore – and who needs another one of those added to the day, right? But this truly is an area where a lot of people fall short in regards to making it a priority in their life, but is certain to be detrimental to their physical health, as well as ultimately their soul health if they don’t. And to compound the time, but also compounding the importance, is to include time for grocery shopping and actually sitting down and eating that delicious, healthy meal you prepared with love, and your own hands – or hey, perhaps help from your family (!) — as priorities as well.
You may find that you have other priorities that are not mentioned here, your calendar will be unique for you. Just be sure it is a priority, something that doesn’t throw you out of balance over other vital parts of your wholistic health and life. Our time management is just one component of a healthy soul! We will discuss more moving forward, and how to keep it all in balance.
In Closing, a Healthy Soul = a Healthy Body = a Healthy Spirit
Our soul is our mind, emotions and will. Wholistic health includes our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, of which our soul is a part. Time management is an important component to soul health. It’s all connected and inter-related. If one area is out of balance, so go the other areas. Our health, as well as how we spend our time is important to God.
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 & 24 NLT)
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