Kids don’t have the monopoly of going back to school this fall. Adults can join in, too! Busy moms and dads will understand the chaos of the first week of school when kids form positive habits that help them settle in to the routines of the new school year.
We can take a page out of their notebooks and use the back-to-school excitement to school ourselves. This week for Self-Care Sunday, we’ll look at how to form positive spiritual self-care habits.
How Long Does it Take to Form a Habit?
The first lesson we need to learn might surprise you. For years, people told us that it only takes three weeks to form a new habit (or break an old one). New research shows that some simple habits may only take 21 days to incorporate into our lives.
Waking up at a certain time, drinking 64 ounces of water a day, or forgoing dessert after dinner come easily. Other habits might take up to 254 days to turn into second nature. It all depends on the complexity of the habit and our attitude towards it.
We have an upgraded level of service available to us when it comes to forming positive spiritual self-care habits: prayer. Forming new habits will take time, but we won’t have to struggle alone. In James 1:5, we learn that if any of us seeks wisdom, we only have to ask God and he will give it to us. Start your spiritual self-care by praying for wisdom as you explore ways to deepen your relationship with God.
Why Form Positive Spiritual Self-Care Habits?
When Pedro and I first married, we lived in a mild climate and decided to buy a scooter instead of a second car. One busy day, I skipped lunch and rode straight from work to the library in town. After returning a stack of books and finding new ones, I put my helmet on and settled into the seat of the scooter. My hands felt shaky as I started the scooter and put it in gear.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, a car entered and I grabbed the brakes and tumbled over into the soft grass next to the sidewalk. I sat there dazed for a minute, trying to figure out what had just happened. I righted the scooter, restarted it, and drove home like I was driving Miss Daisy.
My first experience with the effects of low blood-sugar left me with a few bruises and a small scratch on the scooter. Failing to nourish my body results in me losing my ability to handle seemingly simple physical tasks.
Since that time, I have had a few other brushes with bad low blood-sugar—usually when I don’t eat a balanced diet AND don’t exercise. I make it a point to never skip a meal unless it’s medically necessary.
The spiritual aspects of our nature can suffer when we fail to feed ourselves, too. I’ve gotten caught up in life and failed to spend quality time with God each day. And then I end up with a case of heavenly hangry—akin to spiritual low-blood sugar.
Tips for Forming Spiritual Health Habits
The Bible gives some great advice in the fourth chapter of James (verses 7-8):
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.
1. Submit—recognize that you have spiritual needs and ask God to help you learn to care for yourself.
2. Resist—the devil will try to dissuade you and give you a million reasons why you don’t need to develop a spiritual self-care plan today. Ignore him.
3. Come near—God promises that if we come near to him, he will come near to us. Sign up to receive a daily Bible verse from YouVersion or BibleGateway. Make a point to read this text the first thing you do each morning.
4. Ask for wisdom—God promises to give us wisdom—especially when we read and study the Bible.
5. Conversations—talk to God like you would talk to a real person sitting next to you. If it feels more comfortable, write him a note or a letter in a journal. You don’t need to get on your knees or be in a special place to talk to God.
6. Apply—talk to God about how you should apply the Bible text or verse you read to your life.
7. Schedule—above all, make sure you schedule time for God. You don’t have to spend an hour in prayer a day, or get up at three in order to spend two hours in Bible study. But you DO need to schedule time to spend with God each and every day. Make it a habit.We have time for what we make time for. #selfcare #habits Click To Tweet
Forming Habits Requires Scheduling
If we schedule the big four elements of self-care into our lives, we’ll find it easier to fit everything else in. Make time daily to nurture your mental health, your academic or artistic self, your physical self, and your spiritual self.
We have time for what we make time for. I fall prey to the mindset that I have to put others first and completely ignore my own basic needs. It doesn’t work well. It’s like trying to fit all the stuff into my life in the wrong order. I major in the minors and put out little fires first—things like checking Facebook, tweeting, and posting on Instagram.
I realize I have wasted times, so I rush around trying to take care of everyone else and all the little details for work. At the end of the day, I collapse in exhaustion. I look back and realize I haven’t done a single thing to keep ME healthy.
If, on the other hand, I start my day by spending time with God, exercising, and journaling, my day goes better. I read every day during my lunch break to keep my mind active. I go birding on the weekends and spend time photographing nature. When I do these things, I have the energy and resources to tackle all of the stuff.
Of course, we’ll all have seasons where we more or less time to spend on self-care. But we still need to schedule the time. Set alarms on your phone, block off time on your calendar, and guard those appointments. Start small, but start today!
When we spend time on self-care, the results will benefit the other important areas of our lives—family, work, and friendships.
What is your biggest barrier to forming positive spiritual self-care habits?
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I LOVE this, Anita! You hit this one out of the park, girlfriend! Great practical ideas and wise insights about habits and priorities. I’m sharing this one for sure!
Yes! Habits are formed by inserting them into your schedule. It signifies the importance we attach to making these habits a priority. I learned that from running, but use it for other, more significant areas of my life too. Love this post!!
It’s great to meet a fellow runner, Laurie! Thanks for stopping by!
Great post, it may take some a little while longer for new habits to establish but itvwipl be eell on its way by consistent effort after 3 weeks…great suggestions!
* it will be well on its way…
Forming good habits like this is so important. It’s much healthier for us and enables us to care for others better too.
[…] (Sharing with Inspire Me Monday) […]
I’ve had low blood sugar issues, too, so I love that comparison when we’re low on spiritual nourishment. Great tips!
biggest deterrent is when I’m on a roll and then my “schedule” is interuppted by say, a weekend, or an unexpected guest or family need. then all of a sudden my roll comes to a stop. pinned and tweeted!
Thanks for sharing these tips, Anita. I have spent a lot of time today doing some needed scheduling. It can feel like a waste of time in the moment, but I know that down the road it will make a lot of difference! It’s not always easy to develop healthy habits, but one by one with the Lord’s help we can do this.
Anita, scheduling is where I fall short. Thank you for reminding me (again) to schedule self care. It’s just as important as anything else (if not more important). I’m going to be pondering your words this week. Thank you! And, I love how you apply James 7-8 in this post! Much love, friend!
So much THIS: “The spiritual aspects of our nature can suffer when we fail to feed ourselves, too. I’ve gotten caught up in life and failed to spend quality time with God each day. And then I end up with a case of heavenly hangry—akin to spiritual low-blood sugar.” I usually am really good about stopping and eating, but if I get really into a project, writing a sermon, etc, sometimes I forget to stop! This is such a helpful post. Self care is so important. One of the lessons from seminary life that I am so incredibly happy to have been taught. So helpful. Blessed to be your neighbor over at Tell His Story this week.
These were such great thoughts. I love how you combine such practical thoughts with a solid Scriptural basis. The Lord is so interested in our daily moments! He is the best help there is. Blessings to you, especially as a new school year is beginning!
Okay, Seriously? I knew it took longer than the three weeks they said it does!!!!!!!! I love the last point about scheduling. That’s an important step.
This is a needed nudge, Anita. In more ways than one.
Thanks for going there …
Self-care does require scheduling. I also have fallen prey to the busy syndrome where everyone else is taken care of, but I have forgotten about myself. Referring to James 4 to aide us as we look to deepen spiritual care is a great place to start. Happy long weekend, friend!
Beautifully said, Anita. Scheduling time for self-care is definitely something that everyone should do.