Welcome to the second installment of our Spring Clean series!
This article series is designed to focus on ways to refresh our spirits, bodies, emotions and homes. These areas often work together in our lives as a whole and all are worth examining as we press reset and form new healthy habits. This week, we’ll be looking at ways to renew ourselves physically.
For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12
Part 2: A Physical Spring Clean
It is no secret to any of us that God created our bodies as temples. Taking care of our temples with exercise and a healthy diet can reduce stress and anxiety, help with depression, create better sleep, improve our cardiovascular health, clear our minds, release feel-good endorphins, sharpen our minds, and give us more energy. So why is it still so hard for many of us to get into the habit of treating our bodies right? It’s possible that we’ve gotten too comfortable with excuses as to why we can’t do something – and so we lose sight of what we could be gaining if we did.
LifePointer member Lacey Ausfresser has experience with this. “I had been in the habit of telling my husband no when he suggested we go camping … because I was too mentally and physically worn out from taking care of the kids [and] just didn’t want the extra work.”
As a working mother to two young girls, Lacey’s mentality was understandable. However, over time, Lacey noticed the improvement in her husband’s mood when he came home from solo camping trips. “The outdoors refreshes him and is where he thrives… [I realized] he wanted me to join him so that he could share the best version of himself with me.”
Lacey started saying yes to camping trips, some of which they took alone without their girls. They were able to hike together, a physical activity that they both enjoy, as well as just spend time together as a couple. Even when they brought their daughters, the memories they made as a family outweighed the work involved.
Ultimately, Lacey admits that while “Some trips harder than others … I am so glad I started to say yes. We were able to connect again … and I was just a better person for letting go of my preconceived hardships and living in the reality of what the moment had for us.” She describes last summer camping together as “the most fun we have had in years. Probably our best year together yet.”
How can we can stop making excuses and take better care of ourselves? Here are some easy suggestions that will not only help our bodies, but also our minds and relationships.
Water As Needed
Here’s a fun Bible fact. Water is mentioned a total of 722 times in the Bible, more often than faith, hope, prayer, and worship. Water symbolizes life, hence Jesus referring to Himself as “Living water.” There is good cause for this symbolism – a body without water cannot survive longer than 72 hours.
While the exact amount of water each person should drink daily varies on age, size, and lifestyle, recent studies have shown that up to 75% of Americans are not drinking nearly as much as we should. HydroCoach and WaterMinder are two popular apps that can be used to figure out your exact consumption amount as well as provide reminders and motivation to keep drinking.
Drinking enough water has health benefits running the span of reduced risk of cancer to better skin, but it also has mood and energy boosting powers as well. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is mild dehydration, and since being dehydrated also throws off the delicate dopamine and serotonin balances in the brain, one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve your mood is by drinking a glass (or two!) of water.
Hit the Ground Walking
The benefits of a daily walk are well known. Just 30 minutes of walking a day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance.
But instead of making these your goals for walking, try assigning your own personal benefits to your walk. Use it as a time to pray or worship. Treat walking time as a nightly date with your spouse to encourage connection. I have a friend who painted encouraging messages on a few rocks each day before her afternoon walk. She would hide the new rocks on her walk and see which of the previous days’ rocks had been found.
If getting in your steps isn’t enough reason for you to get moving, create a reason that makes walking an important part of your day.
Harvest Connections Using Fresh Food
While social media claims to be a way to keep us connected, it can also serve to inform us on what our friends are doing without personally having to reach out to them.
Bring back the art of a personal connection by initiating a recipe exchange. Create a list of seasonal ingredients (The Seasonal Food Guide is a great resource) and email it out to friends and family who enjoy cooking. Ask them to send back their favorite recipes using these ingredients. As an added benefit, new recipes are a great way to use fresh and local products as well as getting out of the carry out rut.
If you feel comfortable, invite those same friends over to help you enjoy the fruits of your labor. Breaking bread with loved ones helps us to ‘receive our food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46).
Restore Peaceful Sleep
The importance of sleep has been understood for centuries. Even biblically, God often spoke to His followers in their dreams (1 Kings 3:5-9, Matthew 1:19-21). Sleep not only has benefits to our physical and mental health, but it can also be used by God as a restorative time, as well as a time to leave our daily worries behind. As He tells us in Psalm 3:5 “I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.”
To maximize restorative sleep, try increasing bright light exposure during the day. Not only will the extra Vitamin D help with anxiety and depression, which are common contributors to poor sleep, but natural sunlight contributes to a healthy circadian rhythm. Schedule your daily walks for a time when the sun is still shining, or take your laptop out onto the patio on a sunny day when you are working from home.
Likewise, reducing blue light exposure before your sleeping hours can also encourage restorative sleep. Blue light, the kind emitted by electronics in large amounts, tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime, making it harder for your body to prepare to rest. If screen time before bed is unavoidable, consider investing in a pair of glasses that block blue light or downloading an app such as f.lux to control your amount of blue light exposure through your electronic devices. If you tend to read before bed, consider the switch from e-reading to a good old-fashioned book – yes, they still make those! In fact, the LifePoint Welcome Desk offers free NIV version paperback bibles to keep – you only need to stop by and ask for one.
You may also want to optimize your sleep space. Make sure your bedroom environment minimizes external noise and light. A clean and de-cluttered space to rest can improve sleep by decreasing stress and increasing comfort levels.
For suggestions on how to best de-clutter, join us for Part 3 of the Spring Clean series as we tackle spring cleaning at home.
Welcome to the fourth and final installment of our Spring Clean series! This article series is designed to focus on ways to refresh our spirits, bodies, emotions and homes. These areas often work together in our lives as a whole and all are worth examining as we...
Welcome to the third installment of our Spring Clean series! This article series is designed to focus on ways to refresh our spirits, bodies, emotions and homes. These areas often work together in our lives as a whole and all are worth examining as we press reset and...
Welcome to the Spring Clean series! This article series is designed to help us renew ourselves after a long winter (and even longer year.) Over the next four weeks, this series will focus on ways to refresh our spirits, bodies, emotions and homes. These areas often...