Saturday, May 4, 2013

What Keeps You Sane...

Running a 10K race in Atlanta on July 4, 2012
During our training at MTI, we talked a lot about staying healthy while on the mission field. Not just physically healthy, but emotionally, spiritually and mentally healthy. It was reiterated many times to us that it's important to discover the things that you need to stay healthy, the activities that best rejuvenate you and help keep you sane.

When Nate and I were raising support, we tried to regularly make time for things that we enjoyed and that were restful. We needed these things to help carry us through a stressful time of constant transition. It was really helpful for me to discover these things for myself before we got to Austria, so that when life has gotten stressful here, I know how to refocus and how to care for my mind and body in the most effective ways. For me, those things are running/exercising, organizing/getting small tasks done (removing from my space so I can relax), cooking with Nate, and being alone (I'm an introvert!).

Our first month back in Austria this spring was stressful. It wasn't necessarily that we had deadlines to meet or a very full schedule all the time (we were mostly making our own schedule), but I felt an underlying level of stress for several weeks. And now looking back, I can very clearly see why. I wasn't able to spend much time doing any of the things in that list above that help me relax and keep me sane. Our apartment was unfurnished, chaotic and full of clutter, with boxes and furniture assembly happening everywhere. I couldn't fix this and that meant I couldn't really relax in our home. I got sick with Bronchitis for 3 weeks and wasn't allowed to exercise. We couldn't do much cooking, because all we had to work with were 1 small pot and 1 pan. Although from the outside, my life may not have appeared stressful, I realize now that without those things, I struggled to release my stress in a constructive way.

This last week has been wonderfully rejuvenating for me. I have returned to running, we've been cooking with all of our beloved kitchen utensils, our home is organized again, and I've been able to rest and relax. My time with the Lord has improved and become more regular now that my stress level has gone down. Once again, the importance of these activities in my life, the things that "keep me sane", has been re-confirmed. 

I may need to re-learn this lesson over and over again, as we enter new phases of life, but I'm thankful that MTI and support raising prepared me for this. They armed me with the self-knowledge to stay healthy on the mission field.