Twenty Strategies for Busy Christian Women, Part 2

by Dr. Mom®

11. Tackle the thing you dread the most. Do the “worst first.” Worrying about “the dreaded task” saps your emotional energy. Stop the habit of “starting to plan to get ready to prepare to begin” and just do it. The longer you procrastinate, the better job you feel compelled to do in order to make up for the project being late. “She who has made a beginning is already half way there.”

12. Don’t allow guilt to push you into overload.   Recognize that women’s pervasive guilt–that so often motivates us to assume disproportionate family responsibility–largely is based on our need for control. If I interpret a negative event as “my fault,” I can take comfort in the false notion that, if I had only done something different, I could have ensured a better outcome. Many women prefer feeling guilty, which fuels our perception of control, over feeling anxious about our inability to always protect our loved ones from harm or to make everyone happy.

13. Avoid trying to make an abrupt transition from one set of skills, pressures, mindset, and demands as you walk through the door of your home after work and assume daunting family responsibilities.   Instead, determine what you need in order to be able to shift gears gently upon your return home:  perhaps playing an audio book in the car, stopping for coffee/tea with a friend, requesting 20 minutes of alone time after arriving home before you are available to others, preparing a healthy snack, or playing your favorite music. 

14. Recognize that your thoughts, feelings, opinions, wants, and needs are legitimate and valid.   Don’t expect your loved ones or colleagues to notice what you need or want or to take care of you. And don’t be a martyr!  Instead, recognize that self-care is not selfish. Self love and self-care are the foundation for love of others and all social responsibility. We are good and grateful stewards when we value ourselves enough to care for ourselves physically, emotionally, nutritionally, financially, relationally, and spiritually. Share your feelings, express your opinions, and don’t hesitate to ask for what you need and want.   

15. Schedule down time on your day planner.   Don’t wait for a space to open in your calendar to play golf or tennis, go to lunch with a friend, read a good book, or take a “free day.” Instead, block out time for a manicure, massage, movie, or date night. Since “work fills the time available,” everything essential will get done in the remaining time. Workaholics actually are less efficient than those who take necessary breaks and leave work on time.

16. Make a habit of taking regular Sabbath time, in order to deliberately turn from productive activity and quietly celebrate the fundamental goodness of life. Plan and practice intentional, consecrated periods of relaxation and reflection to let your mind rest and your body heal from the violence of busyness. (Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God!”)  If you can’t take a traditional Jewish Sabbath, practice taking a Sabbath nap, savoring a Sabbath meal, enjoying a Sabbath walk, or soaking in a Sabbath bubble bath. 

17. Downscale and simplify your life.   Donate some of your material possessions, resign some of your commitments, move closer to work or to a smaller home, cut back on structured children’s activities, simplify your wardrobe or hairstyle, watch less television, scale down your holiday traditions, work part-time instead of full-time, take a leave of absence, get more sleep, and fix simpler meals.  

18. Identify some specific spiritual practices that serve to renew your energy and enthusiasm for joyful service.   Do you experience an authentic encounter with God by attending a worship service, hearing a dynamic sermon, singing in the choir, partaking of the Sacrament of Communion, reading Scripture, listening to Gospel music, participating in a Bible Study, teaching children’s Sunday School, going on a mission trip, or reading a book by a Christian author? Use all these Means of Grace to nourish your soul and keep you grounded to the Source of Life.

19. Adopt a humor perspective.   Laughter diffuses tension, lights up your face, relaxes you muscles, restores your perspective, shrinks your problems, buoys your spirits, aids healing, and helps the immune system. Learn to find the humor in everyday life, to laugh at the absurdity of your circumstances, and to see the world from a child’s perspective. 

20. Choose life-giving coping mechanisms—healthy practices that improve your emotional awareness, strengthen your relationships with others, enhance your self-esteem and make you feel more connected to others. Examples of life-giving coping mechanisms include talking with a therapist or with friends, reading, exercising, experiencing nature, cooking healthy foods, deep breathing, pampering (such as a manicure or bubble bath), using symbols of your faith (devotions, meditation, prayer, hymns), volunteering, getting adequate sleep, or enjoying hobbies, music, movies, or pets. Stop using life-depleting coping mechanisms, or destructive practices that numb or suppress difficult feelings. Life-depleting coping strategies includes angry outbursts (anger masks fear, anxiety, and vulnerable feelings), drugs and alcohol, workaholism, isolation and withdrawal, compulsions like shopping, gambling, television viewing, computer games, or eating disorders. These maladaptive coping methods are based on deceit and shame, harm our relationships by preventing emotional intimacy, and lower our self-esteem.
 Copyright ©  2011  Marianne Neifert, MD, MTS     May be duplicated if authorship is cited.