This season of life as a mom of three has put a lot of things (that I love dearly) on hold for me. One of those is writing. My passion for writing has not waned one bit - but my time has. This struggle, I have to admit, has caused me grief in many ways. Writing has always been therapeutic and a way for me to process the ups and downs of life. In the past, writing on current topics has allowed me to stay engaged with the culture and not feel so lost in the mundane of motherhood. I almost feel guilty calling motherhood “mundane,” because I think it is extraordinary and such a gift to be a mom. But anything practical and routine in our lives can easily be taken advantage of and that’s when the “mundane” begins to set in.
Lately, I have felt myself struggling emotionally and mentally. I recognized that I wasn’t processing and dealing with things in a healthy way. Instead of taking my thoughts captive and crying out to the Lord… I’ve been taking my thoughts and spilling them out to others, mainly my husband. I have the hardest time holding on to any negative emotion. If I experience something painful, it immediately comes out. Instead of a gluten intolerance, I guess you could say, I have a pain intolerance. And to be honest, I’m not sure I would have recognized this about myself so obviously until I learned my Enneagram number. I’m a type 7 - which is characteristically a type that avoids pain/negative emotions.
On the flip-side, in an effort to avoid negativity, I will wear myself out by chasing pleasure. And eventually be left disappointed, because nothing truly satisfies. It’s a vicious cycle - this pain-avoidant, pleasure-seeking life. Chasing pleasure leads to the pain of being disappointed and pain leads to more pleasure-seeking.
I don’t believe any personality test is an excuse to continue living in unhealthy ways; rather they are tools to help pinpoint blind spots for specific areas of growth. Mental health is such a stigma, especially amongst the Christian community. For some reason, there is a false belief that admitting that we can be mentally or emotionally unhealthy downplays the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Yet, not many would ever downplay the role of the Holy Spirit when we are physically unhealthy. The brain is an organ, just like our stomachs. And just as we take supplements to help with digestion, often we need supplements to help us mentally as well.
Now, I can tell you, I am definitely more of a naturalist when it comes to medicating myself. I will do almost anything to avoid taking a pill. Oils, counseling, writing/journaling, music therapy, meditation/prayer, etc. They may be more costly and time-consuming - but these have been my therapies of choice for battling stress and anxiety for the past ten years. Everyone is different and should be evaluated and treated based on what their bodies need.
The important thing is that we don’t ignore our bodies. Especially, as believers. We are vessels of the Holy Spirit and need to be healthy in order to carry out what the Lord has planned for us. When we’re not healthy, we are limited in what we can do.
I also don’t want to ignore the obvious - sometimes we are facing spiritual attack from the enemy. I can testify, that this has often been the case for Josh and I in ministry. Things will be going well, we will see God moving… and something will hit one or both of us out of nowhere. It can seem coincidental, until the pattern happens repeatedly. Our brains control every aspect of our human body - so of course, it will be the number one thing attacked. Just as someone in battle shields their hearts from danger - we must shield our minds.
One of the more difficult things about being a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom is balancing self-care without neglecting my children. As the old saying goes, “You can’t take care of someone else, until you take care of yourself.” But the truth is - taking care of someone else leaves little time to take care of yourself. I’ve had to be intentional about finding ways to make self-care a priority.
I’ve seen a complete correlation between lack of exercise and increased anxiety - so I joined a gym. I’ve seen the benefits of using and diffusing natural oils - so I signed up as a Doterra member and recently switched to Young Living (they BOTH work!) Listening to podcasts, audio books and music throughout the day help a ton - so I joined Spotify. And lastly, finding time to do something that I love, every day, just for fun - today, I blogged.
These are small prices to pay for a healthy mind.
Many times, stay-at-home parenting can be isolating and lonely so there is a huge temptation to turn to social media/texting to quench that need for social interaction. Yet, catch me at the wrong moment and, it can stir up all sorts of unnecessary comparison, insecurity and discontent which only deepens the isolation and loneliness. Setting limits and boundaries on social media usage and making the time for more face-to-face, adult interaction (through bible studies, playdates, etc.)… has been crucial for healing.
But perhaps the most important way to practice self-care while also taking care of my children is choosing to study Scripture together. It helps to set our minds and hearts in the right direction for the day. We purchased The Jesus Storybook Bible last Christmas and it has been a great resource to start our mornings! When I focus my heart on the beautiful opportunity I have been given to train up theirs… there is no better reward or healing.