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  • Bryan Hardwick

Filling Our Emotional Reserves


How often have you been asked the question, “Are you staying busy?” If you’re like me, I imagine you’ve been asked that question a lot. As if “staying busy” is the ultimate objective in life. However, this is the world we live in, a world that demands us to add more detail to our lives. We live for events we can post on Facebook and keep ourselves busy as a badge of honor and significance. And I have to admit, I fall prey to cultural demands just as much as anyone else. However lately, I have been asking myself, how much is enough, knowing that we can only handle so many details in life before we exceed our threshold and find ourselves on overload.

To understand overload, we must first understand our own limits. Physical limits are measurable. We only have so many hours in the day. Humans are not infinite. We are limited by time and space. So, we need to understand our own limitations and be at peace with them. God created us to live within certain limits for our own well-being. Therefore, when the requirements upon us exceed that which we are able to bear, it often results in disorganization, frustration and anger.

In the past, margin was a normal part of people’s lives. By default, rather than by choice, people lived slower, more deliberate lives. They had time to help a neighbor and attend social events. But in today’s world, there is so much to do, so much to see, and if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves exhausted and burned out. In fact, in our technological, fast-paced world, overload happens naturally, but creating margin takes work.

So today, I find myself thinking of ways to create a little more margin in my life. And if we find our emotional energy is gone, how do we get it back? Here are ten options that I have seen work in my life and in the lives of others:

1. Cultivate social supports. Some people fill us, others drain us. Therefore, we need to intentionally develop relationships with people who understand us and care about us. These life-giving relationships allow us to drop our guard, to laugh, to be refreshed. For my wife, Jennifer, and I, we purposely have a monthly date night with another couple who we met in a young married group 25 years ago. Over the years we have supported each other, as well as prayed and laughed together. They have truly been a great support to us.

2. Get a pet. Pets are capable of bonding, are loyal, and often affectionate-just the kind of things that increase our emotional reserves. Our dog Loxi forces Jennifer and me to get out of the house and enjoy a morning or afternoon walk where we can catch up from the day or pray together.

3. Exercise. Research continues to show that there are plenty of compelling reasons to start exercising. Countless studies show that many types of exercise, from walking to cycling, make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain—serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine—that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress.

4. Serve others. A University of Michigan study found that those who performed regular volunteer work showed dramatically increased life expectancy, as well as experienced more joy.

5. Rest. “Be still and know that I am God!” (Ps. 46:10) Have you tried this one recently? If not, try to set aside time regularly for quiet and rest, even if it’s just a few minutes per day.

6. Laugh. Proverbs 17:22 states, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Laughter is good for the soul as it triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. And these endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. This is what I love about my church; they are so committed to restoring the joy of the Lord within the hearts of our people, because as we know the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

7. Cry. Allow yourself to release the grief, the pain or sorrow. Tears can release the tension and heal the soul. And if you need a good cry, I recommend watching This Is Us!

8. Create appropriate boundaries. We need to be able to say “no” at times, or other people’s demands will overwhelm us. It’s sometimes the hardest word to say, but saying “no” to some things, allows us to say “yes” to the right things.

9. Give thanks. A lot of negative things go away in our life when we are thankful. Studies have repeatedly shown that gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being

10. Worship. In Psalm 100, David declares, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God!” Make sure you’re taking regular time to be with Jesus and worship Him. It puts life into great perspective.

The list could go on! I would love to hear from you. What have you found to be helpful in creating margin and refueling in your life? Whatever it is, make sure you take time to create margin in your life, so that you don’t grow weary in doing what is good!

Connect with me!

I would love to hear from you about how God is working in your life. You can email me at bryan.hardwick@baysideonline.com.

Until next time...

Bryan Hardwick

Groups Pastor at Bayside Adventure

P.S. Want more of Life Is Relationships? Click here for past issues!

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