The Thing That Refreshes My Soul

Tonight, I felt a calling to write here, and though I didn’t have any topics in mind, I knew I’d find some by turning to my trusty friend—Google. That’s where I found the title of this post on a list of blog post idea (thank you, Do a New Thing!). I realized immediately this would be my post’s title because it’s so timely and relevant.

Stress and the need to refresh our soul

I think we are all chasing the idea of refreshing our soul. Many of us are caught in cycles of chasing our own dreams and goals, and sometimes we can even experience severe stress that can leave us unmotivated and “burned out.”

I know because I was there just weeks ago, and I am still dealing with the symptoms of severe stress, of the disappointment of trying for objectives that haven’t yet come to pass. Amid all this, I spent a great deal of time and money trying to release my soul, to refresh myself.

I went on weeklong resort vacation, spent countless hours watching funny videos and movies, took too many naps, bought fancy wine and cooked nice meals or went out to dinner with friends, etc. I did all of these things out of a need to refresh my soul, and I think that’s exactly the reason many others do these things.

Vacations are taken nearly compulsively by some, not because they are truly curious to see and explore a new place, but because they feel they need to get away from where they are.

And yes, does it work for them? For me it didn’t!

Entertainment And Escape Bring Temporary Relief

I found that escaping the issues that were making me feel worn down, that were testing my faith to exhaustion and that made me feel as though I couldn’t think one more thought or take one more step towards what I knew was right and knew I needed to keep working for, just wasn’t working.

I could refresh my soul for that hour while watching an episode of Grace and Frankie, or for  that eight-minute video of the Colbert Report, or the two-hour brunch with a friend, or even a week spent on the most mesmerizing Caribbean white sand beach. But it was just a distraction… I had to pick everything back up immediately following all of those activities; the crushing weight of my stresses would come back to me.

And the moment I realized this (it took a long time) was when, in my cab ride home from a stunning week in the Caribbean/Cuba, I felt the heaviness I’d abandoned just before leaving come back to find me. I found that all of my worries and bad thoughts had been just waiting for me to get back.

My initial thought was that I needed to book another vacation because at least those six days of not worrying, of not having to deal with the trouble, or being able to feel fresh within my soul, had been amazing—and worth it.

But then I realized that these activities, including vacations, were not truly decompressing activities. They were just sold as such! They were marketed with false promises.

Finding True Decompression To Refresh The Soul

I think the secret to feeling fresh is feeding our soul, resting, etc. So there is no one size fits all. For me, I wasn’t under any great amount of physical stress, so while being at the beach was nice for the physical restfulness, what I was really getting out of it was the promise of inner refreshment.

And yet, I only got that as a result of distraction from the things my soul was truly starving for. I had wound up so tightly because I truly just wasn’t feeding my soul the correct things…the things it needed and required in order to flourish and love and feel enthusiasm. I’d almost stopped feeling alive.

I had to “dig deep” and think about the things that had truly allowed me to feel alive rather than those purported or “sold” as being connecting activities. I found that volunteerism and positive/good times around relatives/extended family are the two things that had recharged me in the past.

For me, fundraising for a cause I believe in or volunteering to make runs or helping to prepare food for a food rescue organization are the activities that in the end had made me feel connected and full. Full of something that extended beyond the few hours I actually spent on the activity.

I think as soon as we decompress, we can let the light inside. So I believe that helping to provide for another person, helping to create something so, so intimate (food is! we all need it…) made me feel so useful. It helped to feel like I was a part of a community and a part that mattered.

Until I can align all of the rest of my life with objectives and activities that give me this true sense of fulfillment everyday, I need to incorporate activities that decompress and fill me genuinely rather than trying to get away.

So that is my answer! Volunteering in a way that makes me feel directly and immediately useful to others is what refreshes my soul.

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