Mental Fitness by Steph Beth Nickel
I recently had the privilege of going on a writers’ retreat. Not only was it a good chance to get some words on paper (or, in my case, the computer screen) but also a good chance to learn some lessons about focus and mental fitness.
Last year at this time, the same group of ladies headed to a cottage to spend a three-day weekend working on various projects. It turned into a writing, reading, crafting, walking, napping retreat—whatever each of us needed it to be. Even so, between the five of us, we got over 100,000 words written. And it was glorious!
This year I came with a far longer To Be Written list. It soon became evident that I couldn’t get it all done from Thursday through Saturday evening. I had to prioritize my list.
This is one of the first steps to mental fitness, reasonable expectations listed in order of priority.
Come to Terms with Your Limits
We are free to say no when someone asks us to take on something we know we don’t have time to do well. We are free to evaluate our To Do list and give ourselves more realistic deadlines. We are also free to schedule in time for the essentials: sleep (we all need it), exercise (we all need this too), and downtime (you guessed it, a third necessity).
Because I have so many projects on the go, I sometimes flit from one to the next to the next. However, just because I hit a snag and don’t know what to write next doesn’t mean I should move on to another blog post or devotional.
For someone such as myself, who has what I’ve deemed Butterfly Syndrome, it is important to resist the temptation to flit to the next thing unless absolutely necessary.
Focus and Follow Through
There are a number of benefits to persevering. First, it’s important to train ourselves to reign in our wayward thoughts and focus on the task before us. Second, there is tremendous satisfaction when we get to the end of a piece that proved challenging. Of course there are other benefits, but these are the two that stood out to me.
As I was writing this post, it was 12:30 Saturday afternoon. Since I got up at 5:40, I would have thought I could have gotten more done by this point, but that’s alright. I believe it’s a sign of increasing mental fitness to accept our own limits and celebrate what we’ve achieved rather than beating ourselves up for what we haven’t.
More importantly, I believe how we schedule our time and evaluate our limitations reflects how much we trust God.
Has He given us all we need to accomplish all He intends?
Can we trust Him to grant us wisdom and direction?
Have we taken on responsibilities that He is calling others to take up?
Does He love us as we are even as He continues to transform us and make us more like His Son?
Is His opinion of us enough even when we don’t accomplish everything others think we should?
Let’s give ourselves a break. Let’s establish reasonable expectations, take on only what we can accomplish with a certain degree of excellence (not to be confused with perfection), and most importantly, trust God to guide our steps.
How do you keep fit mentally? I’d love to hear your suggestions.