Our body is the last line of defense when it comes to stress. We’re so good at pushing through, we go into survival mode. But, at night, the burdens we carry during the day keep us lying awake.

We hide our hearts. But, we were made to share our hearts.

Notice how Jesus lovingly notices the stress you are carrying:

“Come to me those who are weary and heavy-burdened…and you will find rest.” Matthew 11:28

How you feel matters to God. You matter to God.

We all need God’s loving touch. I needed God’s touch to break from worry and anxiety on my journey to heal from emotional trauma and panic attacks. As I researched, I was overjoyed to learn many ways to restore God’s peace and joy!

To encourage you in your wellness, I’d like to share three powerful soul care practices: listening, touch, and the breath prayer, from my new book, “Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm”. As I learned to refill my emotional reserves, I also helped my loved ones to flourish emotionally as a mom and in my marriage.

The night before my 12-year-old son returned to in-person classes after a year of distance learning due to pandemic restrictions, he slept soundly as usual. But the night after Caleb’s first day of school, he came into my bedroom to tell me he couldn’t fall asleep. Gently I asked him, “What’s bothering you?”

He sighed. “I don’t know.” I walked him back and sat on the edge of his bed, listening as he told me about his day. He had enjoyed seeing his classmates face-to-face again, and the day went smoothly.

But he told me that despite this positive experience, Caleb still felt stressed—he just didn’t understand why.

Doesn’t this situation ring true for all of us who find it hard to fall asleep, lying in our beds watching the minutes, then whole hours, tick by? We try to do what sleep articles recommend. We set up a sleep routine, create a calm environment, and use high thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. Yet to no avail.

It’s the troubling case of insomnia.

Not knowing why we can’t fall asleep is one of the hardest things to suffer through, isn’t it? It plunges us into fear, making matters worse, kicking anxiety into high gear. The hyper, intense focus that helped Caleb get through the day of many overwhelming changes of his “new normal” activated his body’s stress response, flooding the hormones cortisol and adrenaline into his system. This stress response happens to us too when we navigate change.

During the day, we’re doing our best to get things done and take care of our chores, responsibilities, and people we love. We tell ourselves that even though the day was stressful, we pushed through, right? Or we may have met an important deadline, achieved a goal, or gotten through a tough conversation. We may even be coming off a day full of excitement, fresh from the flurry of social activity or something wonderful. Yet we find ourselves struggling to get the sleep our exhausted bodies need so much.

God doesn’t want us to carry all those feelings inside on our own. God created us with a need to share our lives with others. Your body needs to relax, and one way to help your body relax is by talking about your day and letting all those experiences you went through out of your mind and heart. What happened to you and how God got you through it isn’t meant to be locked away in your heart, but rather known and shared.

I guided Caleb toward sharing more about his day. “So tell me. What was your first class? Walk me through it, like you’re telling a story. Like a movie.” Along the way, I gently prompted him to share what he saw, ate, heard, and felt, activating many of his five senses. As Caleb shared, I felt his hands relax and warm as I held them in mine. Our conversation ebbed, and I asked him to lie on his tummy and relax as I softly soothed his back. His breathing became even, and after a while I kissed my son goodnight.

If you’re struggling with sleep, insomnia can feel like a matter of life and death. You need the restoration of sleep to help your body replenish your emotional and mental well-being so you can come alive and meet the demands of the day.

It breaks God’s heart to see his little girl – you – running ragged. There’s a story of a little girl in the Bible who everyone thought was dead as she laid on her bed without breath. Kinda the way we feel, when we’re crushed by busyness and overwhelm, don’t you think?

But when Jesus came to sit next to her bed, he gently held her hand, his loving touch brought her back to life.

We all need God’s loving touch. And God gives his loving touch to others through our hands, ears, and heart.

One powerful technique to relax for sleep is to breathe in God’s love and breathe out our worries to Him using this soul care tip: Intentionally write down God’s promises from Scripture. Then use Scripture to pray a “breath prayer,” a simple way to pray using the natural rhythm of your breathing and God’s Word. Breath prayers will oxygenate your soul with God’s peace and restore calm.

Hand over your problems over to Jesus as you pray this breath prayer from 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV).

Inhale: I cast all my anxiety on You.
Exhale: Because You care for me.

With each breath you take, name each worry to give it to God in prayer.

Jesus draws near to you. He understands your fears. He is right next to you, and he will help you. He sees you in your sleeplessness, and his touch will heal and restore you. Jesus reaches for your hand, just as he sat beside the little girl on her bed, holding her hand.

You are worth loving. You are God’s beloved.

Required permissions line:
Excerpted with permission from Breathe by Bonnie Gray published by Harvest House Publishers,
Eugene, Oregon, 97408. Copyright 2023, Bonnie Gray.  www.harvesthousepublishers.com