Don’t forget to pause and nourish yourself a bit along the way. When you’re born to help others sometimes you forget to help yourself. ~ Paula Heller Garland
What kind of nourishment do you need most for the pace and challenges of your unique life? David, the wild-hearted Shepherd-Warrior-King, wrote psalms full of prayers for superhuman energy bursts.
For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall. – Psalm 18:29
We all need bursts of that Davidic energy at times, like Red Bull for the soul. But mostly I need steady nourishment in the nonstop caring for a little one, especially during football and baseball season when my husband’s coaching job keeps him gone late hours. Most days my prayers are less like David’s and more like Paul’s encouragement to the Galatians:
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9
What I need are regular sips of green smoothies for the soul.
Recently mom emailed me a study showing that men typically get stressed about just one thing, mostly their jobs. The cure is equally simple: the TV remote. (Color us “not shocked.”) Women, on the other hand, tend to get stressed about a whole universe of issues and recover in a much wider variety of ways.
Mom and I did a little informal survey of the “daily stuff” that stressed out our women friends. Putting the issues in related piles, we came up with the following catchall list of everyday stuff that bogs us down, holds us back, and steps on our last frayed nerve.
Top Ten Everyday Stressors of Women
- Stress of Chaotic Surroundings: The nonstop influx of clutter, drudgery of housekeeping, and general feeling of being overwhelmed and disorganized; or living in surroundings that don’t really reflect our personalities or inspire us.
- Stress of Schedules: Too much to do, too many needs to meet, difficulty accepting limitations, inability to say no or ask for help without guilt. Not enough time for solitude, treating yourself, being creative. The difficulties of finding work you love and then balancing it with the rest of your life, or family. Not to mention, the challenge of doing all this within a budget.
- Stress of Negative Body Image: The inability to love our bodies as they really are or to cope with “mom bodies” after babies and the angst of aging. In other words, the stress of not being Angelina Jolie.
- Stress of Negative Self-Talk: Thought patterns that wear us out, make us anxious, or send us into a downward spiral of unending despair and crankiness.
- Stress of Food Issues: From trying to eat healthy while craving a Big Mac, to the chore of feeding a hungry family — Every. Single. Day.
- Stress of Fitness: Guilt about not exercising enough, guilt about the time it takes to get fit (time away from loved ones or responsibilities), getting discouraged with slow results. In short, not being able to run a mile and instantly, permanently, lose twenty pounds without ever having to repeat the ordeal again.
- Stress of Friendship: How to find friends you really like and admire who also think you are equally endearing. How to handle toxic or draining relationships without getting kidnapped by negativity.
- Stress of Marriage: Making time for each other and finding ways to replenish our love tanks. How to stay in touch with our sensuous side — even if we are covered in baby spit-up and peanut-butter handprints.
- Stress of Raising Children: Whether your child is two or twenty-five, being a parent can keep you scurrying and worrying. We want to enjoy our kids — really we do. And most of us feel we could do that. Definitely. If we only had to parent our children when we were well rested and feeling up to it. All we need is a bevy of downstairs servants at our beck and call to nanny our children, cook our meals, dress and undress us in the latest fashions, tuck us in bed at night, and serve us a lovely homemade breakfast on a tray. (I just realized that this job description could fit either “The entire serving staff of Downton Abbey,” or “What Every Mom Does for Their Kids Every Day.” No wonder we’re tired.)
- Stress of Feeling like a Spiritual Slacker: Struggling with a nagging vague feeling that we’re never doing enough for God, not paying him the right kind of attention, or practicing spiritual disciplines with enough… uh… discipline. In other words, we struggle with the feeling that God is like our first-grade piano teacher who knows we haven’t practiced “Hot Cross Buns” even once all week, though we’re doing our best to dance and slide our fingers across the keyboard in ways that look really impressive.
Reading over this list, Mom and I felt two emotions at once: recognition and hope. Recognition as we both raise our hands in empathy with each of the common stressors above. And hope because we know one of the greatest ways to make a real change or learn a new way of being is to research, experiment, write about it, and then do it!
After looking at this list, we figured we could either bond into the deep end of insanity together as our lives spiraled out of control, or we could find a way to make our lives work for us and our families in ways that were more nourishing. To get from here to there, we looked at the list above and reframed the stressors in more positive ways. The result formed the outline of this book, which also became our list of goals for our own lives in the coming months.
As coauthors of a previous book that shares our mutual love for food and cooking, we resonated with the word nourish as a metaphor for living in more delectable, healthy, and life-giving ways. We wanted to give women permission to pause and ask themselves, “How can I better nourish my life? What would it look like to feel nourished at the end of each day? To be well fed in body, mind, emotions, and soul, no matter how impossibly busy or stressed out our outer worlds may be?”
Excerpted with permission from Nourished: A Search For Health, Happiness, And A Full Night’s Sleep by Becky Johnson & Rachel Randolph
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Do you relate to the Top Ten Stressors for Women? How many of those did you check off? I answered yes more than no. What other stressors are you battling? Let’s take Becky and Rachel’s advice today and pause and ask, “How can I better nourish my life?” Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full