The steady and aggravating beep of my alarm slowly brought me into consciousness. My eyes felt too heavy to open, and all I could muster was a groan of regret for staying up so late the night before.
After snoozing my alarm twice, I managed to pull myself out of bed 10 minutes before class. I threw on a pair of leggings and a hoodie I found on the floor, popped in a piece of gum, and ran out the door.
There ya have it, a play by play of most mornings of my college career. As the day went on, I found myself booked to the brim with school, homework, work, and (sometimes) a social life. When I had a spare second in my day, I would turn to social media or snacking because I was too exhausted to do anything else.
Not before long, I noticed a subtle decline in my mental health, my relationships, and my happiness. My relationship with God became cold and distant. I knew something needed to change, but I wasn't sure how.
Simply put- A healthier lifestyle didn't seem as fun as what I was living. There's something thrilling about staying up until 3 with your roommates and going to McDonald's, isn't there? Sure, I was dog tired most of my life and running on sugar and caffeine, but I was making it.
At the time, I was completely unaware of the way my lifestyle was contributing to a serious decline in my spiritual and relational life. The exhaustion of my body turned to an exhaustion in my spirit.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think physical burnout causes a bad spiritual life. It isn't. Our relationship with God is vastly complex and God is always working. Thats the beautiful thing about Him.
Yet, we can't forget that we were intentionally woven together as finite beings bound to physical needs. We are hard-pressed to reach the full potential of our relationships if we fail to acknowledge all parts of us.
Susie Larson, the author of the book, Fully Alive: Learning to Flourish- Mind, Body, and Spirit writes about the interdependence of our emotional, spiritual, and physical health. She says, "What happens in your soul, happens in your cells."
There is scientific proof that your mental and emotional health affects your physiology (see link below for more info). I've seen this happen the other way around, too. Your physical health can in turn effect your mental health. We are much more than rigid boxes of "social life" "spiritual life" and "psychological life". Our mind, body, and spirit are more interconnected that we might dare to acknowledge.
For many, the interconnection of mind and body might be deeper than unsustainable diet and sleep schedule. It might be a past trauma, abuse, or some other life-altering event. These experiences creep into all parts of our life, whether we realize it or not. And sweet friend, this is something worth digging into.
Whether it's a big thing or a small thing, our whole being will feel the weight of it. I know my experience has rang true with this, too.
My mental and spiritual health was crippled by my failure to take care of myself and my inability to process heavy experiences. Taking care of myself isn't a big deal because it makes me comfortable or happy. It's a big deal because it forwards my ability to love and serve the way Christ intended.
Maybe so far you feel me on a spiritual level here. You're also a type B, go with the flow, take-life-as-it-comes kinda gal. Routine and self care doesn't come very easy to you. And to that, I say me too sister.
Or, maybe you've never found yourself wandering through your days without a planner the way I have (and I commend you for that!) Routine comes easy, but maybe your struggle is in having your routine be more important than connection and building relationships. Either way, I think we can all agree that there is room for growth.
I am writing to document my journey and invite you to join me in holistic health. Friends, I am so far from perfect on this journey. I'm not coming from a place of I've-mastered-this-so-let-me-help-you, but rather from a place of inviting you to walk with me. Talk to ya soon!
Susie Larson's book, Fully Alive: Learning to Flourish- Mind, Body, and Spirit:
Harvard studies on the link between emotional and physical health: