It is wonderful to give to others, but it is equally important to care for your own needs. Just as flight attendants on airplanes always instruct us to put on our own air masks before helping others with theirs, you must recognize the importance of caring for yourself before you can help anyone else. Unless you set boundaries for yourself, you will become exhausted, stressed, and burned out. The Bible shows Jesus setting boundaries and focusing on his own spiritual health before helping others. Follow this example and learn how to take more time for yourself in everyday life.
Model Jesus’ Peace-Filled Life
We often forget that Jesus was human – flesh and bone, just like us. He had to sleep, eat, and take care of Himself just like we do. Jesus had a human body that was limited to earthly nourishments and limitations. Did Jesus fight against these limitations, pushing Himself to accomplish tasks day and night? No. On the contrary, Jesus accepted His bodily limitations without stress. He prioritized personal needs sometimes above those of others. He did so without feeling guilty because He knew it was necessary to be the most help to other people in the long run.
Jesus often separates Himself from others, even His disciples, to be alone with God, His father. Jesus lived on a relaxed personal schedule that kept Him energized, invigorated, and free from being burned out. Beyond that, it allowed Jesus to stay connected to God and full of His grace. Therefore, Jesus had the resources and mental capacity to help others with patience and compassion instead of irritability.
Jesus did not live on the defensive, constantly explaining why He had to extricate himself from society every so often. He invested in His relationship with God uncompromisingly and took breaks whenever necessary. Mark 8:36 reads, “What good is it to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?” No matter how hard you’re working, always take time to be with yourself and to be with God. Prioritize your own spiritual help before you worry about the state of others.
Focus on Your Reactions to Life
You can’t do everything, all the time. Even though you may want to, everyone has a limit to what they can do. Often, setting boundaries comes down to being able to separate yourself from the situation at hand. Separating yourself from what life throws at you can help your mental health, and keep you from feeling emotionally and mentally exhausted. The key is to shift your focus off the circumstances, and, instead, look at how you respond to them.
The phrase, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it,” states an important truth – you have the power to control your own life purely through your reactions. Even when something unexpected happens, you can get through it with a positive reaction. Don’t dwell on your current circumstances. This won’t change anything. Instead, focus on what lies ahead. God will empower you to change your life if you let Him. Look to God for guidance in times of trouble, and ask Him to change the way you respond to what’s happening around you.
Cast Your Cares on the Lord
1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our cares upon the Lord, for He cares for us. The firm belief that God will take care of your troubles will bring you peace and calm your spirit. Too often, we forget that God will take care of us and worry ourselves for no reason. Instead of getting worked up about something in your life, set an emotional boundary for yourself. Remind yourself that God has it under control, and that there is no need for you to get so emotionally or mentally wound up. Give your worries to God, and He will take care of them for you.
When you are feeling overwhelmed by your circumstances, take a moment to be with God alone. Go somewhere quiet, in solitude. Take a walk outside or simply retreat to your bedroom and close the door. Take a few minutes to pray to the Lord and ask Him to take the burden from your shoulders.
A great phrase to use in these moments of turmoil and unrest comes from Luke 22:42: “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Stating this simple mantra will remind you that you are not the one in control – God is. This is a good thing. It takes the pressure off you and places it on the one who knows best.