It’s so easy to get caught up in the trap of busyness and to think that the more activities we can cram into our schedule, the better we are doing. Our fear of missing out can get the best of us sometimes, and we start to feel like we need to participate in every church activity, have tons of friendships, work long hours, and hardly take a moment for ourselves.
This year, some mental health issues stopped me in my tracks and forced me to slow down and evaluate the quality of what I was allowing to enter my life.
I learned how to rest (not just physically, but mentally) and I learned how to prioritize the activities and relationships that matter and ditch ones that are taking up my time without adding value to my life.
Our friendships, our church activities, our jobs, our hobbies, and our time for rest all need to be in order so that we can live full and healthy lives. Here are a few tips for bringing balance to these important areas of your life.
Think Quality vs Quantity in Friendships
I used to think that I needed lots of friendships in order to be relationally fulfilled. I had a lot of friends, but truthfully I was the most lonely that I had ever been. This year, my struggle with mental health issues led to the loss of a significant number of friends. At first I was upset about this, but I now find myself the most relationally fulfilled that I’ve been in years – and only one new person has come into my life since this loss.
I realized that having the right people in your life is much more important than having lots of people.
The friendships I had before were shallow, and these friends didn’t stick around when things in my life got tough. Today, I have only a few close friendships, but they are high-quality, precious relationships with people whom I know will be there for me no matter what.
Having lots of friendships can drain us rather than energize us. Instead of being all things to all people, focus on praying for and supporting your closest friendships and your family. Maintain fewer but higher quality relationships and make an effort to really be there for those people.
Only Get Involved in Church Activities That Are Important to You
It’s easy to feel pressure to get involved in everything at church, from volunteer work, to events, to worship team, to Bible study. As great as church is, it can become something that drains us of our time and energy if we let it. Ask yourself this: are you participating in something because you genuinely feel called to do it, or because you feel guilty if you stop? God doesn’t motivate us using guilt – I believe he does want us to enjoy our ministry and be energized to do it.
Instead of volunteering for everything, decide on one (or a few) things that are really important to you and focus on giving your best effort to those activities. Also, consider the fact that your form of ministry could be an activity that doesn’t involve church, and that’s okay. (Please give examples.) I have attended churches that really emphasized volunteering at church as being absolutely necessary, but I don’t believe that it’s meant for everyone.
Make Time for Hobbies
When our lives get busy, our hobbies can fall to the wayside, but it’s crucial to make time for the things you love to do. Hobbies are good for both spiritual and mental health. For me, I’m in my element when I’m decorating my home. When my mental health was struggling, my creative outlet of decorating was an important coping mechanism for me. I began to realize just how much creativity can bring healing and balance into your life.
Your hobby could be anything from a sport that you play, to painting, to writing. God gave you the thing you’re passionate about for a purpose, so make time for it!
When you do the things you love to do, you are bringing glory to God.
Make Time for Rest and Reflection
Over the past few years, I’ve truly learned the importance of rest – and by rest, I don’t just mean sleeping! Rest is about more than catching some zzz’s at night – it’s important that we give ourselves time to unwind by leisurely reading, watching tv, taking a relaxing walk, and most importantly, spending time in reflection. Reflection is something that you can do while taking a walk, lying in bed at night, or sitting on the couch after you’ve just turned off your favorite show. Reflection can even be expressed through journaling.
What is reflection and why is it so important? Reflection is when you spend some time thinking about the things in your life and why they matter to you. Think about the activities you do and what value they are adding to your life. Think about yourself and what steps you could be taking for self-improvement. Think about your friends and family and why you love them so much. Reflection is important because it often leads us into the practice of gratitude. Being grateful for the things in our lives will improve our outlook, our mental and spiritual health, and even perhaps our physical health. Don’t take the things in your life for granted – thank God often for each and every one of them.