Bookending the day

Your alarm goes off. You groan and bury your face in your pillow. Is it morning already?

Your fatigued body slumps into bed, and you can barely work up the energy to pull up the covers. Meanwhile, your brain is on overdrive, trying to process everything that happened during the day and all the tasks that await you tomorrow.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Real rest can be hard to come by, making for a slow start to the day. Real exertion of every variety – part of the deal in ministry – is hard on the body, mind, and spirit, making for a fitful entrée to much-needed sleep. It’s a vicious cycle.

Starting and ending the day with intentionality can help you frame your day more positively (thus giving you energy) and end your day with gratitude (thus sending you off to quicker and more satisfying rest). These bookends don’t have to be lengthy or cumbersome. They just have to work for you. Here are some suggestions.

Starting the day

  • Breathe deeply for 30 seconds before getting out of bed
  • Do a 5-minute interval workout
  • Decide on a focus word for your day that you can repeat to yourself as needed
  • Smile at yourself in the mirror
  • Speak aloud a sentence prayer as you cross the threshold of your home or office
  • Refuse to look at your phone until you get to work
  • Read a short devotional at your desk before you turn on your computer

Ending the day

  • Utilize the examen
  • Pray in color or doodle or write in a journal
  • Identify a way you helped someone or grew as a person or pastor that day, then name and give thanks for a way someone helped you
  • Mindfully stretch out your weary body and remember that you are wonderfully made
  • Tell someone you love them, whether in person or by technology
  • Create a short ritual of letting go of undone tasks or unmet expectations for the day
  • Meditate for a couple of minutes or do a body scan once you’ve gotten in bed

You cannot control all the events of your day. Bookending your day with intentionality can help you control your responses and their effects on you, however, thereby enabling you to release what is not yours to worry about and guarding your body, heart, and mind from an unhealthy level of exhaustion.

What would you add to these lists, and what might you try to frame your day in a new way?

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash.

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