Women are interesting creatures. We will pour out and pour out to others, we will give our hearts and our lives and our energy to a cause, to a problem, to our marriages, to our children, and we will do all of this sometimes to the detriment of ourselves.
Yes, we are to lay our lives down. Yes, we are to serve. Yes, we are to fight injustice. Yes, we are to strive to be godly wives and good mothers. Yes to all that.
And yet, if we are not taking care of ourselves, we will have nothing to give.
During the peak of my marital chaos, I was battling sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, eye-twitches (turns out those are caused by stress), chronic migraines and heart palpitations. In other words, my marriage and the way I was handling it were taking an actual physical toll on my body. I was deteriorating. And then during my separation and divorce, I gained some weight, I still struggled with sleeplessness but also with exhaustion and sleeping too much during the day at times, and headaches.
Being in a difficult marriage takes a physical toll. Going through a divorce takes a physical toll. You must take care of yourself physically.
All of these tips are common sense, but you just might need permission to focus a little bit extra attention on yourself and it perhaps never occurred to you how interwoven your emotions and circumstances and health all really are. Your body is a gift. It’s your one and only. If you are not doing well physically, every other area of your life will suffer.
- Get rest. You need to get enough sleep every single night. And it’s okay to take naps. Living in crisis mode is physically and emotionally exhausting.
- Get exercise. Even a little bit. Take a walk around the block if that’s all you have time or energy for. Do some yoga. Walk your dog. Take your kids to the park. Get outside and take some deep breaths.
- Eat well. I start every day with a ridiculously gross healthy smoothie with kale and spinach and banana and blueberries and wheatgrass and flaxseed and what-have-you. I’ve even added one in the afternoon. You don’t have to go nuts, but at least try to eat less crap than what you’re currently eating. Start there.
- Drink water. Water flushes toxins out of your body and helps stave off headaches, hunger and irritability. Even if all you do is start your day by drinking down one glass of water, that’ll be a huge boost to your system.
- Get a check-up. If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while for a well-care check-up, do it. Get your blood work done. Let your doctor know what’s going on in your life. Ask for ways to stay as healthy as possible.
- Take multi-vitamins. You should run this by your doctor, but I take Vitamin B (energy), Vitamin D (mood), and Fish Oil (for the brain). I can’t swallow big pills (freakishly-small esophagus over here) so I take adult gummies (because I’m ten).
- Do not rule out anti-depressants. I took an anti-depressant for about eighteen months and it helped me. I didn’t feel like I was in la-la land or anything…..I still felt every emotion…..but I felt a bit steadier and perhaps a bit more able to handle my reality. They’re not for everyone. But look past the stigma and talk to your doctor to see if they might help you for a season.
- Stay connected. People with friends live longer. Do not isolate during this hard time in your life.
- Get in counseling or get a coach. If you are trying to figure out your marriage problems or deal with your divorce grief solely in your own head, you will be attempting to untangle those knots forever. Find someone who can walk you through the process.
- Do something fun. Life is hard and serious. And, I don’t know about you, but I sometimes maybe have the tendency to overthink things (whatever). Get out and enjoy life from time to time. Stop in the middle of your chaos and messy circumstances to dance in your kitchen, to read a book just for pure enjoyment, to go to the movies, to buy yourself something pretty.
Jesus can and will walk you through your current difficult situation. But he has also given you a sound mind and the responsibility to take care of the body he’s blessed you with. Take some steps today to take better care of yourself.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. –I Corinthians 6:19-20–
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here, or “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here. Or, we could work together one-on-one.
This is so very true! When I was in my abusive marriage, I had a heart attack at age 32!!! My daughter was only 18 months old. I was not overweight, no high blood pressure, no high cholesterol. The emergency heart cath showed no blockage. The doctors had and still have no explanation as to why I had a heart attack at such a young age. It was so scary…and it blows my mind what stress can do.
Amy, that is so scary! So glad you made it through. -Elisabeth
I live every day asking myself – what am I doing for me? And is this decision in my best interest? I schedule time for walks, pedicures, manicures, even ‘stitch and bitch’ knitting group time. If we don’t take care of ourselves no one else will. We must learn to throw out the guilt when we take me time to survive!!!
Laura, yes, taking care of ourselves is integral when in survival mode. -Elisabeth
This post is on target for me. Just yesterday I was realizing the toll that stress has been taking on my body. I live in crisis mode much of the time. A lot of the stress is from caregiving. My son has autism and can become violent when he is having any kind of physical pain. He has a lot of health issues. My marriage is not good and that is draining too. I have become aware that I HAVE TO take care of me. I am putting time and effort and money into this. It’s not an extravagance to be good to yourself. I am not sure what my path will be for the future but I know Jesus is with me. I am taking one day at a time and learning not to stress over the days ahead. Thanks for this post. I love your book Unraveling!! So good, I’ve read it more than once.
Amy, I’m so sorry for all you’re carrying but so proud of you that you’re taking some good steps to take care of you.
This is so good! Thank you. 🤍