Self-Care in a War Zone

Leah HousemanGuest post by Leah Houseman

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to a beautiful author friend from Israel. We met through an online Author forum and course and have been corresponding regularly after we discovered a heart-felt connection. I’m honored to host Lea as a part of her Virtual Book Tour around the world. Even though she usually writes fiction, Lea’s written a most welcome and appropriate post for us about “Self-Care”. Enjoy meeting Leah – and do take a look at her excellent best-selling book!

5:00 AM.

The blaring sound of the Code Red alert shatters the silence of night and awakens us to yet another day of war. After three weeks the sirens begin to take on a strange kind of normalcy. We’re in a war zone after all.

The neighbor calls and asks, “Are you OK?” The answer is mechanically repeated over and over again: “I’m OK”. No one says, “I’m fine.” We are coping; we are surviving.

But we are not thriving.

Yet thrive we must, even in the worst of times, say the Sages, those brilliant minds whose words we love to read – when the sun is shining and all is right with our world.

But now? Do those lofty principles work now? By the way, what are those principles anyway? It’s hard to remember with sirens blaring in my ear.

I close my eyes and breath deeply. I whisper the simplest of prayers. “God, I ask You for wisdom in the midst of chaos.” He hears me.

It suddenly occurs to me that all those principles I’ve purposed to live by don’t disappear in a war zone; they just need to be adjusted.

What are those principles?

1) Set boundaries. Local television channels are following developments around the clock. It can be overwhelming, even debilitating. I remind myself that there are stress channels and there are peace channels and besides that, my television has an OFF switch as well as an ON switch. I set a boundary: one newscast in the morning and another one in the evening. The rest of the day the TV is off because what we listen to has an enormous impact on how we behave. I’m not indifferent to what’s happening. I simply realize that if I don’t take care of myself and carry on with life, I’ll be no good to myself or to anyone around me who may need my support.

2) Be proactive, not reactive. Sadness, pain, heartache and fear dominate the atmosphere. The psychologists are more than busy attending to bereaved parents, frightened children, worried spouses. It’s so very easy to get swallowed up in the agony of it all. But that is to assume the reactive stance. To be proactive, I choose to write, to encourage, to listen and to pray. It’s effortless to write those words; it’s something else entirely to keep on choosing to live by them. I think of my grandmother, a wise and lovely woman. She used to say to me, “Be part of the answer; not part of the problem.”

3) Listen to your body. Emotional fatigue is debilitating. Times of acute stress demand attention to one’s physical well-being. Pay attention to your emotions and don’t be afraid of them: learn from them. Be aware of habits of thought and habits of behavior: change those that are not serving you well. Be aware of your effect on the world, and the world’s effect on you. Be aware of the present, of what is real right now, and look for the richness that is available to you even in the midst of difficulty. Healthy eating, sufficient rest and stress-relievers such as meditation and prayer are not a luxury but a necessity. The body alerts us to those needs if we’re paying attention. Stress is inevitable; break-downs are not. Taking care of one’s personal needs is more important than many realize in highly stressful situations.

4) Daily renewal. Sometimes it’s as simple as sitting down in a quiet spot for 10 minutes with a cup of herbal tea or a mug of steaming coffee, looking out at the sunrise. Or perhaps you enjoy the tranquility of your special corner of the home with a good book. For me personally, starting each day with quiet meditation and prayer is essential for going through the rest of the day in serenity. What’s your daily renewal practice? We either have one or we live from stress to stress, coping rather than thriving..

5) Choose joy. It may sound very strange to talk about joy in this context yet the strengthening power of inner joy is legendary. On the worst of days, there is always some reason to be joyful – if we’ll look for it. Granting yourself permission to find joy in the little things and to feel good about it is an essential component of healthy self-care. Part of choosing joy may include continuing to do those things you normally do, like meeting with friends regularly. You may have to meet in one another’s home rather than at the coffee shop, but keeping as close to one’s regular lifestyle is very therapeutic in times like these.

Yes, we’ve been living in a literal war zone.

But what about the mental war zone in our minds, regardless of where we are geographically. Would not these same principles apply?

I think they do.

I dream of no more war; no more pain. Yet even as I do, I understand that it is the very pressures and stresses we live through that gift us with opportunities to realize our great potential. Life is a journey of learning. To face every situation we encounter by asking “What can I learn from this?” is in fact the wisdom that makes saints of sinners and heroes of cowards. It is also the best of old-fashioned common sense.

Meet Leah Houseman

Leah's BookSophia Bar-Lev, who also writes as LR Houseman, is the best-selling author of Pasta, Poppy Fields and Pearls, and will soon publish its sequel, Pizza and Promises. She is a former teacher and spent many years traveling internationally as an inspirational speaker and Bible teacher at conferences and conventions. Her popular mini-book, How to Study Torah When You’re Not a Torah Scholar, has been used by many women’s’ bible study groups to enliven their discussions and deepen their understanding of scripture.

To receive your free gift, “7 Traits of Highly Effective Moms”, visit her website at www.sophiabarlev.com

(Note: If you don’t have a Kindle, and want to read this fabulous book – don’t despair! Download the FREE Kindle App for most devices here.)

Liesel Teversham
Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.

She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.

Click here to read about the book.

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22 Comments

  1. Gudrun

    A lovely portrayal of holding on to your core values under very challenging circumstances. It reminds me of Victor Frankle’s words: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
    ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      Thank you for your very kind words. I so admire Victor Frankl – such an inspiration.

      Reply
  2. Ann Goodfellow

    Very instructive and helpful. We may not be facing the stress that you are in Israel, but we all face it in some form or other each day. I’m going to share this with friends – to help them too. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Pam Fitros

    Oh….Leah! Thank you so much for sharing this. May God bless and keep you and yours safe in this chaos, and may He impart wisdom and restraint to each and every person carrying a gun, tossing a bomb, or ordering young soldiers to stand up and die for something that should be worked through without bloodshed and destruction. May living your faith be an oasis of peace and renewal for you.

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      So appreciate your comments, Pam. And thank you for your prayers. They mean so much to us here.
      I hope your birthday was lovely.

      Reply
  4. Peggy McAloon

    Thank you for a beautiful perspective on an untenable situation. From the depths of despair we as humans have often found the greatest inspiration. For those of us who have never experienced the terror and anguish, you have provided a guide to help if that should ever happen. Be safe! I cherish your friendship.

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      The feeling is mutual, Peggy. Isn’t it amazing what wonderful friendships we can develop so many miles apart. I thank God. Be blessed, my friend.

      Reply
  5. PaTrisha-Anne Todd

    You caught my attention Leah with your words especially during this difficult time, thank you for producing this article.

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      Thank you, PaTrisha. Hard times all over a hurting world these days. May we all be lights in the dark places. God bless!

      Reply
  6. Mari Barnes

    Leah, thanks for the beautiful and inspiring post. We sometimes make mental war zones where none exist. I certainly appreciate the wake-up call. Prayers and highest hopes for the best possible outcome. Stay strong, Lovely Lady!

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      Thanks, Mari. How true – not every war zone is a physical battlefield. Keep up the good work!

      Reply
  7. Linda

    ThAnk you for sharing. I appreciate your take on joy on a difficult place. These self-care skills are so important and will serve people who are in emotional wars zones as well.

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      Thank you for your comment. Blessings to you right where you are today.

      Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      Thank you, Linda. Blessings abound to you today.

      Reply
  8. Sara F Hathaway

    Leah, Wow! That’s about all I can say. I am going to come back and take notes on this! To find such serenity and positive light in a world so bent on anger and destruction is truly commendable. I really enjoyed your concise description of the feelings, I find hard to describe, that we must draw on to keep ourselves well balanced. Well done!

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      Thank you, Sara. You’re doing a wonderful service to people today who need the information you convey so beautifully in novel form. Much success!

      Reply
  9. Helema Kalivoda

    Within the hardest challenges, the biggest opportunities for growth and self-realization hide. Thank you for your eloquent reminder of that, Leah.

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      You’re welcome, Helena. Life is full of opportunities to grow; ours to choose whether to become bitter or better. May we all choose the latter!

      Reply
  10. James Hart

    Wonderful 5 steps for living through disasterous times of war. I’ve been a soldier and saw the horror of war on civilians faces. God Bless you and all those around you going through these terrible times. May all those with a right mind prepare themselves for surviving even harder times. I believe they are coming. Store up your food and water, learn to survive like our ancestors did, be frugal, beware of people making strange and un-natural remarks. Take emergency preparedness classes.

    Reply
    • Leah Houseman

      Thanks, James. I’m afraid you’re right – with what’s happening in Nigeria and Iraq and other places these days, we may well be in for harder times ahead. Now is the time to prepare ourselves to be lights in the dark places. Someone needs to do so – might as well be us! God bless you

      Reply

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