Caretaking Practice for July: Sanctuary

Last month, you may have taken some time to appreciate, care for, and share your home. This month, let’s have a spin on the same idea.

A few years ago, my church decided to run through The Common Rule. You can read about it on the official site, but it entails some daily and weekly practices to center you spiritually as well as emotionally, physically, and mentally. One practice here was turning off your phone for one hour per day.

At the time, I was working for the church, which meant my weekends were booked. Throughout the week, other people were working and so were regularly contacting me with questions or problems to be solved. I was essentially working every day of the week. I was run down and rapidly burning out. So this idea of turning off my phone for an hour every day offered both dread and relief, for the same reason: no one would be able to get ahold of me. It ended up being something truly beneficial, and I still turn off my phone from time to time and enjoy the peace that comes with knowing no one can intrude on my alone time for a little while.

Maybe you are living through a similarly hectic season in your life. It might be work, parenting, caring for a sick family member, or dealing with crisis or transition. Especially for you, but not only for you, this month’s practice is sanctuary.

Some ideas:

  • Take a cue from The Common Rule and turn off your phone for an hour a day. Use that time to do something you want to do, uninterrupted.
  • Have an afternoon tea or coffee practice. Around the same time every day, stop anything you are doing and take a little fika break. You can sit with a book or a TV show or a sudoku puzzle, or take it on a walk.
  • For many of us, some outdoor time is exactly the kind of sanctuary we need. If you work at an office, hospital, or any kind of fluorescent-lighted, air conditioned building, take a break from that environment. Go outside and listen to the birds, watch clouds drift by, and pay close attention to the plants and the creatures crawling everywhere, unconcerned with spreadsheets or irate supervisors. An afternoon walk outside has helped me not-quit a couple of jobs.
  • Working from home? You can easily fall into the trap of letting work spill over into your entire day. Set aside a strict time for a sanctuary practice. (And don’t spend it on social media!)
  • Take half an hour to stretch, breathe, or even do yoga.
  • Water your plants. Play with your pet. If you are reinvigorated by caring for something or someone, find sanctuary that way.
  • Sanctuary time is a good time to pray or meditate. Activities that remind you you are more than your labor are essential. Activities that remind you most of what you’re doing now won’t matter much in a year, also good.
  • Play. Brene Brown’s been recommending it for years based on her research.

The bottom line: Set aside some time each day as your sanctuary time. Let it be refreshing, invigorating, and restorative.

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