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If there’s one message God really hit home for me last year, it’s the importance of rest and self-care.

The first quarter of 2017, Gary’s and my schedule were packed with overseas conferences, speaking engagements, and nonstop travel.

The one thing we forgot to schedule was REST, and at the end of that quarter, both of us were jet-lagged and exhausted. I realized we were on a fast track to burnout. Many friends in ministry had urged us to take a sabbatical, but for some reason or another, every year we cancelled, downsized, or scheduled over it.

The sad thing was we thought we were doing the right thing!

It can feel like giving, giving, giving is the best thing you can do for the people around you, but unless you’re also taking the time to receive, you can actually end up hurting yourself and them more in the long run!

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint; pace yourself accordingly.” —Andy Burfoot

Gary and I finally took a month-long sabbatical in June, and that time of rest and listening to God was one of the greatest choices we’ve ever made. That month break enabled us to help people in a much greater way than we ever could have before when we were trudging along exhausted.

God’s plan for you is to give from a place of wholeness, not from burnout. So here are five ways you can start practicing self-care in your life and jump-start your dreams again!

1. Verbalize your needs.

When a person struggles to practice self-care, one of the first things they put on the back burner is communicating their needs to the people around them.

You have to be the one to draw boundaries on your life and time—nobody can do it for you!

This may be as simple as asking your husband to keep the kids for an hour while you take a bath, or it could mean having a more in-depth conversation about the changes you need to be at your best.
Your needs are important, and unless you communicate them clearly, you can’t expect anyone to anticipate what they are or realize they’re going unmet.**

Sometimes we have to have those hard conversations in order to stay obedient to God’s will for our lives.

2. Create a positive environment.

Spending your time in a negative or cluttered environment can spur feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated. Managing your stress and morale is one of the biggest components of taking care of your needs! Before you start your workday, prepare for productivity. Get organized, grab a glass of water, or even light a candle. If you’re going to be home all day, why not try making your bed first thing in the morning?

U.S. Navy Seal, Admiral William H. McRaven gave this advice to a graduating class:

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”

There are so many ways you can set the environment for a great day! It can help to grab a pen and paper and mentally unload everything you need to do throughout your day. This can range from small tasks, like buying milk, to big tasks and deadlines.

Try it out! Create a productive, positive environment at the beginning of your morning and watch it send a ripple effect through the rest of your day.

3. Get a good night’s sleep.

Too often we undervalue the role sleep plays in our emotional and mental health.

E. Joseph Cossman said, “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”

It’s true! When we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, we tend to make bad decisions. The best way we can keep ourselves energized and emotionally ready for the day is to ensure we are getting seven to eight hours of good sleep.

Improve your sleep by exercising during the day, avoiding electronics before bed, and going to bed early enough to get all of the sleep you need before it’s time to get up and go again.

4. Clean out toxic relationships.

Practicing self-love may also mean drawing the line on toxic relationships in your life that are taking your time, your joy, and your resources. That’s okay! I love this advice from author Cheryl Richardson:

“If you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others . . . living with the reality that some people just won’t like you. It may not be easy, but it’s essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desires, values, and needs.”

Of course, our goal is not to upset or disappoint anyone, but we have to come to terms with the fact that we can’t make everyone happy all of the time. God never asked us to!

Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

If we try to perform for the approval of toxic friends, it will ultimately pull us away from God’s will for our lives!

5. Take a break when you need it.

If you need a break, don’t feel guilty about taking it! You can only put your needs on hold for so long before it starts to affect your emotional, mental, and even physical well-being. If today you feel overworked, stressed, or depressed, put some downtime on your calendar to spend time with God.

**Even Jesus, who was perfect, took the time to get away and talk to God. So why would we be any different? **

I know it can feel like giving a priority to your needs is selfish, but remember, life is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to stop and ensure you’re practicing the kind of self-care that is going to keep you on your God-given assignment for years to come. And when the people in your life ask you for the same favor, then you will be in a place of wholeness to show them the same support!

It’s time to break free, be the best you can be, and live the life God wants for you! Click HERE to request your copy of Love Encounter 2017 on DVD and learn powerful principles and tools from speakers like Drenda Keesee, Terri Savelle Foy, and Bev Mortlock that will re-ignite your passion and jump-start your dreams!

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