By Brenda L. Yoder, LMHC
“I’m not doing well” I told my husband in the middle of a heavy speaking season two years ago. Probably like you, it takes a lot for me to say I’m not doing well. For me, not doing well means I’m physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. During that particular time, in addition to traveling and speaking, I had counseling clients in crisis, friends experiencing trauma, and we experienced the sudden death of several people close to us in a short amount of time. I was drained both professionally and personally.
Speaking up for my needs is a self-care tool I use for stress management. I’ve learned about self-care the hard way. Ten years ago, I tried to do it all as a high school teacher, youth leader, wife, and mom to four kids. Stretched thin, I often exploded at my husband and children. My stress level and lack of self-care was damaging our family. I needed a break. My first step in self-care was resigning from my teaching career so I could heal and be healthy.
Since then, I’ve become an advocate for self-care, life balance, and holistic health. Like teaching, the speaking, and writing professions have specific demands which require mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical care. Here are 5 truths I’ve learned about speaking, writing, and self-care.
- You give parts of yourself to others when you speak or write. Whether it’s your story, insight, burden, or passion, you give inner workings of your soul for public consumption. It’s a vulnerable act to pour out from inside. Self-care is the restorative act of pouring in what’s necessary for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual equilibrium.
- Writing and speaking can be isolating. As a writer or speaker, you may not have peers in your immediate community with whom you can talk to, ask questions of, or have comradery with as you would in other professions. Self-care means seeking community with other professionals who are like-minded, either online or in person, with whom you can collaborate and support each other in the work you do.
- Self-care is not selfish. Instead, it’s stewardship of the unique, earthly temple where the Holy Spirit resides to share the message God has given you. You can outsource a lot of things, but you can’t outsource your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
- Healthy boundaries are essential for longevity in ministry. Burnout happens when you can’t say “no,” when you lack awareness of your limits, or when emotions and insecurities drive unhealthy priorities. Healthy boundaries protect time, energy, relationships, and health which are necessary for a long term speaking and writing ministry.
- Only Jesus Christ can give rest to your soul. Self-care is humbling because it acknowledges you’re in need of something. It’s seen as a weakness. Yet, God calls us to let him take care of our needs. Jesus is the care provider for the soul, body, and spirit.
Psalm 23: 2 says God makes us lie down in green pastures. The verb makes reveals that God knows when we need to rest, but we wrestle against it. We must surrender our will to rest in the goodness God provides.
After we rest, God leads us beside still waters. There’s peace following Christ when our spirit is rested. It’s from this place that he restores our soul.
God is serious about meeting our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. As a writer or speaker communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ, you’re vulnerable to spiritual attack. The enemy will wear you down anyway he can.
But Jesus is there, waiting to meet your needs. Paul said, “And my God will meet your needs according to the glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). As you steward your calling, also steward your soul. Speak to Jesus and others about your needs. Philippians 4:6-7 promises that when we present our needs to God, his peace, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
It takes strength to speak up for your needs, and humility to receive God’s care. Self-care is the balance of both of these.