Craft, Color, Doodle – Self-Care Week 8

Dooding

Happy Monday, Friends!

The sun is shining after more than a week of clouds and rain and it’s so beautiful!! Those days and days of dreariness called for lots of different self-care techniques to keep from biting someone’s head off or just climbing into bed and pulling the covers over my head. We all know it, some days are just harder than others but sunshine helps.

How are you doing? Are you tending your heart so you can reach out and encourage someone else?

Today let’s look at a fun way to take care of yourself: crafting/coloring/doodling. I’ve lumped these together because they share many benefits. However, there are also differences among them. If you know me, you know these 3 things are close to my heart.  I cannot tell a lie (in honor of George Washington, whose birthday we neglected this month)! I love to doodle. I love to color. And I love to craft!

Before we start, though, did you know that you are creative? Yep! Drawing a stick figure has nothing to do with creativity! Neither does drawing a straight line. Creativity is all about our DNA. As children of God, our DNA is His and He is the Great Creator. You might paint or draw, you might sing or play an instrument or dance. You might cook fantastic meals or figure out complex math problems. You might know how to put together a sound system or you might invent windshield wipers! There are innumerable ways to be creative. Stop saying you aren’t creative. You ARE creative. Claim it!

This is important: number 1, you do not have to “BE CREATIVE” to doodle/color/craft! All are learned skills (ALL skills are LEARNED skills, whatever they are). And, number 2, there’s very little “skill” involved in doodling or coloring or even crafting.

There are many benefits of crafting: lowers stress and helps you relax; gets your mind off problems, clears the mind of clutter; improves your mood and helps you deal with your emotions. Crafting can boost your brainpower by increasing dopamine, it can create new neurons, promote focus and concentration and combat depression. Crafting boosts confidence and increases empathy. It helps protect your brain from aging. Do you know playing games, reading books and crafting can reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30-50%!

Crafting may require a little “skill” (like how to use a glue stick or cut with scissors) and possibly some instruction. It is creative and produces a little extra beauty in your world without taxing your brain. Yes, it can be complex but it can also be very simple. Start simple. See how you like it!

Coloring adds many of the same benefits to your life as Crafting. It helps turn off racing thoughts and calms the mind. It’s a good way to begin a quiet time/meditation. It helps regulate breathing and bring tranquility. It enables you to express yourself and creates beauty in color. It feels “safe” to those who consider themselves “non-creative” (see above). You’ve already got a lovely picture, all you do is add your favorite colors!

Coloring requires a little effort in that you need a picture to color. (You can get free coloring pages from the internet, by the way.) And it requires colored pencils. I say colored pencils because using crayons can be frustrating when trying to stay within fine lines. And markers are also a little frustrating, being either too fat for the fine lines or too thin for the open spaces. Try different tools. See what works best for you.

I color when I’m stuck creatively. When I need to do something creative but am hitting roadblocks, I break out the coloring book and colored pencils. That enables me to relax and clears away to cobwebs.

While doodling doesn’t seem to have the same anxiety-reducing benefits as crafting and coloring, it does help retain information when engaged in while listening to a speaker. Doodling helps the brain stay awake and attentive. It can help relieve distress and allow the brain to “find” missing memories or help bring a problem into focus. It’s a quiet rebellion against electronic devices because it’s tactile and engages more senses than just hearing and seeing. Doodling helps innovate, solve problems and elevate cognitive performance. Twenty-six of 44 American presidents doodled (I didn’t find any information on whether or not President Trump doodles). It calms the brain’s amygdala- the part that controls flight or fight.

Even more simple than coloring, doodling requires no special tools. All you need is a writing implement and a scrap of paper. You don’t have to consider yourself “creative” to doodle but it can spur creative insight because it lights up different networks in the brain and helps with big picture thinking. Doodling can be little cartoon-like drawings. It can also simply be swirls and straight lines or flowers or stars, hearts or arrows. Any line on a piece of paper can be considered a doodle.

Do you doodle? I do. You should see some of the pages of notes I take! Sometimes I doodle on the doodled notes I make to myself.

You now have “permission” to doodle. Do you think you might try it next time you’re on hold on the phone, or find your dozing off during a lecture? Or maybe when you’re frustrated with a conversation that’s heading south. Try it!

I hope you’ll share your experiences with doodling if you do doodle (do dah, do dah, day). Or please, share your crafting and coloring experiences as well.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll find lots of ways to use this week’s self-care tool. Tuck it into your toolbox, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice!

Have a great week full of blessings!

 

More info:

“The Thinking Benefits of Doodling”, http://www.health.harvard.edu

 

 

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Take Small Bites- Self Care Week 7

radishesIt’s another Monday, so it’s time for another small tool for taking better care of yourself.

Just a small, quick reminder that we are responsible for taking care of ourselves. We need to step up and do what we need to do in order to be the person who is filled up and ready to help someone else! It goes without saying that spending time with God, meditating on His Word, is the foundation of each day. After that, it’s up to us to follow His leading by being rested and healthy.

So today, let’s add another small tool to our small changes.

When a new year begins, we all seem to automatically consider ways we want to be a better person and accomplish more. I’m willing to bet that in considering ways to be a better person, almost all of us consider our health. We want to eat better, shed unwanted weight, exercise more, get outside more.

We all know that biting off a huge change is likely going to be a failure. We just aren’t wired to be able to make really big changes quickly and make them stick. Sure, you might lose those 10 pounds in 2 weeks, but where’s your weight going to be in week 4? And yes, you might cut out all sugar – for a month. But what are you going to be doing the beginning of month 2?

Now there are definitely times when we absolutely MUST make big changes because of a major health issue. What I’m addressing here are the things we know we “should” do, the things we’d be better off doing. And, before we go any further, here’s my disclaimer: DO what your healthcare provider tells you to do! I’m just giving friendly advice that I’ve found to be helpful. I am not a healthcare professional of any kind. In fact, you can stop reading if you’re facing a major health issue. God bless you with healing, good health and restoration, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Here are a few things to consider when contemplating our health:

If I eat a cookie every day, a small change would be eating a cookie every-other day.

If I don’t eat veggies and decide I need to (YES!), a small change would be to add a baby carrot to my lunchtime meal.

If I’m feeling deprived by having no sweets, I’m more likely to stick to that change by allowing myself a square of dark chocolate once a week. It gives me something to look forward to, a reward that isn’t going to completely blow away all my hard work.

I’m still eating way too many cookies and not nearly enough vegetables BUT I’ve made a move in the right direction. And, I still get to have a small pleasure.

The all-knowing “They” say that it takes 3 weeks to make a lasting change. Recently, however, I’ve read it’s more like 3 months. I tend to believe the 3 months. But whatever, make a small change and repeat it over and over until you are eating the way you believe to be best for you! Remember the self-care tool to drink more water? I hope you’re still working on that. The same thing applies to that, remember?… add one glass a day, add lemon to it to make it more palatable, do what you need to to add more water!

Making a small change that is completely do-able helps us feel like we’re accomplishing something good and therefore helps us feel better about ourselves. I, for one, like knowing I’m heading in the right direction while not having to suffer too much. *wink*

I think I’ll eat TWO carrots with lunch!! (I already gave up my cookies)

What “small bite” are you going to take today?

Thank you for reading and journeying along with me as I try to make small changes that will reap big dividends over time.

God bless us in the journey!

One More Restful Snuggle

 

Are you tired of resting yet? (LOL!) Thanks for hanging in here with me.

A few more definitions of Rest and then I’ll bring it all together:

+ a place that provides shelter or lodging for travelers, as an inn.

+ a piece or thing for something to lean on or hold onto: a hand rest.

+ to be supported or based; lie, lean, or sit: The ladder rests firmly against the tree.

To rest in God is to LEAN on, be BASED in, and SUPPORTED by, God.

And check this out:

2 Corinthians 12:9:
9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may Rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!

God, Almighty Creator and Father, pitches a tent over you and then He comes into that tent and hangs out with you. WOW.

Jeremiah 6:16, NIV, says, “Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, ask the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, “We will not walk in it,” …”

Thank you, Father, for the gift of rest that you gave us in Jesus! Gracious and loving Father, incline our hearts toward you.  Help us to know your mother’s heart. We need to know Your unconditional, unfailing love for each and every one of us. We need to know Your total acceptance of each of us. We need to understand that You want wonderful things for us. Please lead us into this revelation as we learn to rest in you.

We are not those ancient Israelites. We are not turning our backs on Your invitation. We are asking for REST, an ancient, Godly way. When Jesus says to us in the New Testament, “Come. Rest.”, we are going to accept that gracious invitation! Amen.

Have these definitions helped you? Have they given you a deeper desire to spend more time with Father God, snuggling into His Rest? I, for one, want more Rest. I want more of God.

What are your thoughts? Thank you for sharing! Blessings to you!

 

 

 

 

Snuggling into Rest

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As promised, more thoughts about Rest. Let’s snuggle a little deeper.

Rest is a field unplowed and unplanted. It’s a flower you cannot see, under the ground waiting for spring sunshine to call it forth. It’s a bear, barely breathing in its den.

A bush with beautiful berries or a bush with dead leaves are both at Rest. It’s just that one is pleasant to see and one looks dead. Each is Resting in its own way. Both will sprout leaves in the spring because they are alive. You can’t help but bloom again once you’ve rested. When we are resting in God’s presence, trusting Him and His promises, we can’t help but bloom either. We are not dead. We are simply resting in Him, waiting in His presence until it’s time to bloom again.

God commands us to Rest in Exodus 20 and He spends several sentences explaining it.

God invites us to Rest in Jeremiah 6 and Matthew 11.

And everywhere you look, you see that Rest is a gift.

What is Rest?

There are many pages of definitions for the word Rest. Here are a few of them:

-the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep, to lie down, especially to sleep. a good night’s rest.

relief or freedom, esp. from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs

-to be at peace or ease; be tranquil, mental or spiritual calm

-the repose of death: eternal rest.

 –cessation or absence of motion: to bring a machine to rest.

 -In Music: a. an interval of silence between tones. b. a mark or sign indicating it.

I love this: Rest notes in music produce… nothing, only silence. But rest notes are very important to the tempo and rhythm of any piece of music. Rest notes are like zeroes, which are just place keepers, they are “nothing” but at the same time they are essential. We need to see our Rest as essential to the rhythm and tempo of our lives, as place markers to the entire sum/product of our lives. Think about that!! “Nothing” is extremely important!

I think I’ll stop here. I can see I need to do one more post regarding rest this week.  I’m preaching to myself here, friends! I hope you’re finding some encouragement, too. I know I am. Thanks so much for joining me in re-visiting all these Rest definitions.

Please join the conversation:

What does Rest mean to you? Which definition is your favorite? I still love the way  the musical definition applies to our lives.

I pray the Lord will put a deep desire in our hearts to snuggle deep into His Rest, which is simply snuggling deep into Him. Blessings, ya’all!

 

 

Rest awhile (Self-care, Week 6)

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This is a hard one. We all dream about being able to rest. It sounds so luxurious.  But so many of us think we just don’t have time to rest. “Oh yeah,” we think,” someday I’ll finish this project… the kids will grow up… I’ll get my degree… I’ll retire…”. The list is endless. And someday never comes.

But rest is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.

We are created to rest. We NEED to rest. My friend, if God Himself rested after creating the world, who are WE to think we don’t need, or can’t, rest?

If we aren’t resting, we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Without rest, our bodies wear out faster and are more open to sickness. Without rest, our minds become overwhelmed and we become less able to reason and think clearly. Without rest, our souls can’t find peace, we can no longer hear the whispers of love and guidance from our Heavenly Father.

First we have to agree we need rest. Do you? Of course, you do, and you know it!

“But, But, But!!!” I can hear the screams. I was one of those screaming people. OK, full disclosure: I still struggle with it. But it’s worth the effort to work on it!

Please, just stop a few minutes, take a deep breath and consider…

In order to make a change, we need to be intentional, to set a plan. And it needs to be in small, do-able steps. So the first thing necessary to adding rest to our lives is to plan a small amount of time to set aside. Then, guard it like your life depends on it, ’cause it does!

Nobody is asking you to take an entire day, as in a Sabbath. Not yet. Just once a week, plan 30 minutes with no electronics, no disturbances. Lock the bathroom door and take a bubble bath. Lay down when the kids take a nap or do homework. Read the Psalms. Take some deep breaths and relax. Unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding to death, it can wait. REALLY. It CAN wait for 30 minutes. At first, it may seem like you’re gritting your teeth, watching the minutes tick past. That’s fine. Don’t give up.

Think thirty minutes feels like too much? How about 10 minutes for starters? Do what you can!

The Bible says we “labor to enter Rest”. In our busy, do-everything-right-now world, it is surely laborious to carve out time for rest. As we continue the practice, though, we will get better. Did you fall off the bike when you first tried riding it? Yep. It takes practice. Did you play Bach the first time you sat at the piano? Nope. It takes practice.

No one is going to help you do this. Oh, they might SAY they agree you need to rest, but are they going to stand guard while you are sequestered in your prayer closet? Maybe. Maybe not. Don’t let that stop you. YOU are going to have to go to bat for YOU!

And when (I didn’t say “If”) you forget or allow yourself to be sucked into the drama, don’t despair. Call for a Re-Do and try again. Pray! Ask God to help. He is the one who invites us to rest in the first place. Practice until that 30 minutes feels natural. Then add to it.

Rest is an invitation. Rest is a command. Rest is a gift.

There are so many things I planned to say about rest. However, when I sat down to polish this up today, an entirely different path presented itself. Perhaps I’ll write more about Rest later this week. It is definitely the word for these days. In fact, Pastor Dave* spoke on it yesterday. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I opened my planner and realized Rest is the Self-Care Tool for this week!

Now it’s YOUR turn! What small thing are you going to do this week that is a step toward more Rest in your life? How are you going to use your new Rest tool? Please share! I’m sure you have a your own personal interpretation on the subject. Maybe you already take a true Sabbath. Do you? Please tell me/us how you got there. My goal is to take a whole day, a Sabbath-unto-the-Lord- kind of day.

Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for more about Rest a little later this week!

God bless you with Rest!

* Pastor Dave is our pastor: David Newell, River of Life Church, 5508 Munford Road, Raleigh, NC 27612,  riverofliferaleigh.com

 

 

 

Smile ~ Self-care week 5

smiley face

How are you doing? Do you feel like you’re taking a little better care of yourself?

Specifically, did you shed any “shoulds” this past week?

Before we start Smiling, here are a few more comments about “shoulds”.

It’s really hard for us women to overcome all the “shoulds” people put on us. For one thing, we don’t want to disappoint those we love. Another thing is that those who love us are probably (hopefully) not aware that they’re “shoulding” us. We need to recognize that, I think. Talk to them about it.

One of my biggest “shoulds” is, “I should do this with joy”. Well, I may not be able to do a thing with joy but I can shed the “should” of it by admitting I don’t really want to do it at all. I’ll do it the best I am able at the moment. Still not the best attitude, true. But at least I am not hanging myself on a “should” hook. I am being honest and owning it. I’ll work on the attitude as I go.

Let’s move on…

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SMILE.

How in the world does giving a smile help me take better care of myself?

I’m glad you asked, as I smile at you. 🙂

Smiling at someone lifts their spirit. You might not notice a change in them. They might be a complete stranger, in fact. But your smile can encourage someone. Think about it. When someone smiles at you randomly, doesn’t it touch your heart. A smile touches our hearts and connects us, however briefly.

A sympathetic smile, given to a mom struggling with a pouting toddler, lets her know you understand, she’s not alone. A smile and an eye-roll to someone having a hard time convincing the cashier or receptionist of a need, lets that person know you can sympathize. Again, they are not alone.

It truly costs us nothing to share a smile and some empathy. One the other hand, it goes along way toward making someone else’s life just a little brighter. And you know what? When we give that small, no-cost smile to someone in need, we somehow feel better too! It’s kind of surprising to find yourself continuing to smile, even after the other person has passed. It’s just a nice feeling.

I read somewhere that if you smile at yourself in the mirror, you feel better. And, surprisingly, it’s true! Try it. Instead of scowling at yourself in the morning, Smile. When you do scowl at yourself and start to say something negative, stop and smile! It works!

When you smile at yourself, your self smiles back at you and you both give and get a smile! So easy.

Before you say it will only work when you’re not mad, let me assure you. I have done it while angry and… ta da!… it really did help change my mood. OK. I’ll admit it was more of grimace at first but I did get a smile out of me in the end.

I hope this makes you feel happier. It has lifted my spirit just writing it! How great is that? And, I’m… SMILING. 🙂

Have you smiled at yourself in the mirror? Do you do it regularly? How does it make you feel? Feel free to go back to shedding “shoulds”, too. Did you see any difference in the way you felt?

Please share! I love to hear what you think!

God bless you!!