When words fail: 10 ways to refresh your spirit, mind, & body

creative outlet finding hope refresh Jan 15, 2020

We are six weeks into 2018, and can I say, “HALLELUJAH!”??? I mean, I can’t say 2017 was all bad. After all, 2017 brought us this:

family hike

girl time

my favorite baker


And this:

joey's big pitch!

soccer superstar

And especially this:

tubing with my sweet boy

look at that air!


Oh! And the release of my first book…!


That was a highlight for sure.


So I can’t claim it was worthless by any stretch of the imagination. Still, 2017 will not go down as one of my favorite years. The fall in particular hit us with trial after trial, with every member of my household being hit from one direction or another. I feel like I spent the majority of those months belly-crawling through the mud, trying to avoid another blow.

During that time, as you may have noticed, my writing stopped. In fact, this morning I dusted off my blogging calendar and laughed (and cried) at what I found: August was full of plans, ideas, and posts; September was blank. In one month, my plans ceased and my goals flew out the window. Every ounce of time and energy was devoted to my family and to just keeping my head above water.

Somewhere around mid-December, we seemed to find more level ground. We started to get our bearings again, breathe a little deeper. And then, of course, the holiday madness hit and kept us running.

And then, finally, JANUARY. A new year. The holidays are over. Life is settling down. It’s time to start getting my life back. Right? Finally, I could dig up a few hours here and there to sit in front of my laptop. The time had come to rejoin the world! I grabbed a cup of tea, opened up my computer… and stared at a blank screen. Try as I might, the words wouldn’t come.

For the first time I can remember, my words failed me.

Have you ever been in that spot? You have fought a battle, you have emerged, and you have found some physical rest. But the emotional wounds are taking a little longer to heal, and in the meantime, your creative outlets shut down. All of your emotional energy is still devoted to recovery, leaving nothing for growth or expression.

At first I was angry. How can this happen? I have been aching to write, and now this? This is my outlet, my way to process, AND my ministry! Now what?

I tried muscling through. I forced myself to sit and write something, anythingI don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. This is dumb. It’s not working… you get the idea.

Then I tried Netflix. Sure, it filled the time, but I didn’t feel any better when I was done. If anything, I felt worse. I hadn’t processed or expressed anything—I’d only dulled it for a while.

So now what? What do you do when words fail? When you can’t simply push through? When you need a way to process, to get your creative juices flowing, to refresh your spirit?

First, give yourself some grace. I had to convince myself that it was OK to set writing aside for a little while longer. I wasn’t a failure. And I didn’t have to declare that chapter of my life to be over. I just needed to cut myself a break.

Then try something new. Maybe it’s time to put a hold on your “go to” creative outlet, but you still need to process, to move, to express. Maybe your spirit needs something different to get you over that hump. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

  1. Go for a walk. Fresh air works wonders! Not to mention the good it will do to get your whole body moving and absorb some Vitamin D.
  2. Read a good book.
  3. Journal.
  4. Do yoga. Or hit the gym. Or pull up one of the millions of workout videos on YouTube. Just get your blood flowing and your body moving. Break a sweat.
  5. Play an instrument. I’ve been playing the piano for the first time in years, and it feels so good!
  6. Learn an instrument.
  7. Color. We live in a marvelous world, full of coloring books just for grownups! Personally, I’m just as happy with a kids’ one. But whatever, man.You do you.
  8. Or paint. Or draw. You get the idea.
  9. Learn something new. YouTube is full of fun tutorials!
  10. Have a dance party. This is my favorite playlist for getting myself moving–and driving my kids crazy!
  11. Volunteer. Spend some time serving at a children’s center, homeless shelter, anywhere you can focus on others.
  12. Cook a fancy meal or dessert. Then eat it. Because food is the best love language.

Yes, I know the title says 10. I thought I’d give you two more as a bonus. You’re welcome.

In the next few weeks, I’ll tell you more about how God used this time in my life to find new ways to process and express my emotions. But I can tell you that I am feeling more and more awake every day. I missed writing, but I am so thankful for the ways He filled my heart with new ways to think and feel and pray.

In the meantime, I’m always looking for new ways to nourish my soul and wake up my creativity. What would you add to this list?

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