My hair was falling out.
Yes, me – the girl with thick black hair whose hairstylists always declared, “Wow! You have a LOT of hair!” — quietly freaked out every time I washed my hair. It had gotten so bad that I started stretching out days between washings because I was so discouraged watching hair swirl down the drain on the shower floor.
It started during the pandemic. At first, I wasn’t too worried. “Oh, well, it’ll grow back.”
“Things will be better by the summer,” I told myself. I held my breath, figuring by fall, my boys would return to school and life would return to normal. My anxiety climbed as I tried to juggle looming work deadlines with the gazillion hats I wore — from cheerleading mom to crisis counselor, referee, first-time homeschooling teacher, and short-order cook.
My priorities were my kids and my husband. Me? I’ll figure that out later.
But the longer the pandemic stretched out, my emotional reserves, once filled with optimism, started thinning — and so did my hair. The more stressed I became, the more hair I seemed to lose.
What I needed was hope. Optimism is imagining how circumstances will get better, but hope is seeing God’s love and care in the midst of bad circumstances. Hope is a refuge in uncertainty when optimism runs dry.
Friend, are you also feeling weary, in the middle of a hard season you thought was temporary, only to discover you’re stretched so thin – you’re burned out, losing your joy and hope?
We often don’t know we’re stressed until our body sends us signals. Our hair starts falling out. Fibromyalgia worsens. We might get migraines, eye twitching, or insomnia. These are common symptoms of burnout that women I work with as a soul care coach share. Scientific studies back this up – women suffer from burnout more than men!
We’re so busy taking care of everyone else, we forget about our well-being. And that’s not good because God cares about you. How you feel matters to God. You are His beloved daughter.
How can we keep pouring out if we don’t make space for God to replenish our emotional reserves?
It breaks God’s heart seeing His little girl – YOU – running ragged. There’s a story of a little girl in the Bible who everyone thought was dead as she lay on her bed without breath. Everyone had lost hope that life could be different — and I can relate to that.
But when Jesus came to where the young girl was, He took her hand . . . and His gentle, loving touch brought her back to life! Guess what was the first thing Jesus said? Give her something to eat (Mark 5:43).
Notice: Jesus didn’t tell the girl to serve the crowd gathered outside. Jesus didn’t tell her to go do her chores. Instead, Jesus lovingly focused on her well-being.
It’s important to God that we nourish our bodies with rest and take time to feel His loving touch — which can revive us with hope.
How do you respond to stress? Do you feel uncomfortable taking time out to do something that brings you peace or joy? Or do you try to fill up by doing something productive for “the crowd” or doing chores instead of nurturing your well-being?
To encourage you, I’d like to share three changes that helped me rest when I was burned out. God wanted me to believe I was worthy of care and take action in the midst of my hard, messy now.
First, I needed to eat better. Because I was trying to squeeze in a bottomless checklist of to-do’s, I was skipping lunch, and eating odds-and-ends. Eat lunch, Bonnie! You need protein.
Second, I needed to face my fear and let go of expectations. I had to let go of responsibilities that were no longer healthy for me. Despite worst-case scenarios playing in my head, I asked God for courage and asked friends to support me in creating boundaries.
Third, I began praying Breath Prayers to nurture hope whenever I felt overwhelmed. It’s a simple way to pray using Scripture to release tension in your body and re-oxygenate your soul with God’s peace as you breathe in God’s love and breathe out your worries.
Hand 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.”
Inhale: I cast all my anxiety on You.
Exhale: Because You care for me.
With each breath you take, name each worry and give it to God in prayer.
To hope again is to believe God will help us. Hope gives us permission to do things differently and to believe God will be faithful. His love fuels your hope, and hope is the oxygen your soul breathes.
Since I’ve made changes to my schedule, nutrition, and my expectations, my hair stopped falling out as much. Over time, my hair health began to be replenished.
God can renew your hope. Jesus tenderly folds your hand in His, loving you unconditionally.
Thank You, Jesus, for being my anchor and my hope. Help me rest in You. Amen.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
How can you take better care of yourself? Which of the three changes from today’s devotional do you need to take to heart?
Do you ever feel so worried, you can’t turn off those worrisome thoughts? In her new practical guidebook to lower stress, Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less & Restore Chaos to Calm, Soul Care expert and author Bonnie Gray shares 21 stressors and 21 solutions to help you find your spark of joy!
This guidebook will refresh weary hearts to flourish in four areas of wellness – emotional, physical, spiritual, and social. With breath prayers based on Scripture and science, Breathe will help you break free from worry, stress, and anxiety. Order by April 13th and receive a free 4-video wellness Bible Study from Bonnie when you sign up here!
Order your copy of Breathe today . . . and leave a comment below for a chance to WIN one of 5 copies*!
Then join Becky Keife for a conversation with Bonnie this weekend on the (in)courage podcast. Don’t miss it!
Listen to today’s article below or wherever you stream podcasts.
Dana Miller says
I’m at the point of hair falling out,
I’m a small business owner who’s business is failing due to the economy. Burning my self out to the point of insomnia and definitely not eating healthy. I continue my self led Bible study hour each and everyday I do believe Jesus will take me out of these things, I’ve got to leave them for him to take of in his time.
Very good solution to ‘Trust in God & leave All the consequences to him’/quote by Charles Stanley (many times)
It’s so easy to go on our way, pushing our own decisions, without considering the outcomes or askingi God for guidance.
In the long run, we make things, harder. Relief, we have a Savior and a guidebook:. God & Bible:. Joy
Sarah Simmering says
This reading is very valuable for me right now. Very interested in the book!
I have always ignored stress until there were physical symptoms! I try so hard but nothing ever seems to be enough. Thank you for sharing this today. I am praying that I can stop carrying the burdens and learn to breathe.
Linda Lyle says
I put too many expectations on myself for what I can do in a day. I have been trying to make more doable goals and scheduling down time into my day. The hardest part is not feeling guilty about sitting still with my cats for a little while a couple of times a day.
I am going through a trial by fire, but I know that God is allowing it for a purpose…. Also, we had to put our little westie down a year ago so I have no little fur babies to sit with. Please don’t feel guilty sitting with your cats. Just enjoy them.
Gina Marie Smith says
As women we tend to worry about everyone else before ourselves. God wants us to take care of ourselves to without feeling guilty. We are his daughters and he loves us. We need to love ourselves to.
Olivia Adair says
It’s so true! Our body does send us signals and holding on to hope is so critical. I’ve been going through a similar difficult season.
This is so good. I love the “breath prayer” idea! I’m going to try it.
I feel I have just accepted stress as a normal part of my life, when God never intended that for me. Thank you for this devotional and the reminder that we weren’t created to “do it all”. I pray that I can give up control of every little thing and trust God with ALL things.
As a single momma, my plate is full! I know I need to prioritize myself more, but, sometimes, skipping lunch means I have more money to feed my daughter.
you are a positive encouragement in y daily struggles. thank you.
Karen W says
Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful Bible verse and this great way to pray.
Sharon A says
Thanks for this opportunity. I know how important breathing and oxygen are; I watched my husband die of respiratory failure. I do try to practice breathing exercises but I love the idea of combining it with Bible verses. God bless you.
Gosh, Have I been there. My hair, too, began falling out from all the stress I was under. It has been a life long struggle. I have been able to better manage it these days, but it still gets the better of me. I love the idea of breath prayers. Thank you for sharing this.
Just so refreshing. I needed this.
I really like the part when you lead us through the guided breathing exercises
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Finding God’s hope on the midst of turmoil, and seemingly endless strife… A very long and difficult season. Thank you for your encouragement.
Lynsey Mandela says
I have been in more than 6 months of exhaustion and stress having a new baby who is colicky, a busy 5 year old and moving into a fixer upper.
I also live with severe chronic pain. I don’t take care of myself and sometimes thinking it’s selfish or wrong.
Three things I must do. Go to bed earlier, do my therapy exercises and stretches and get back to the doctor.
These devotiond from the boom are so timely, practical, and incredibly helps and nourishing to my soul.
I need it!
I loved this– great scriptures and great reminders! Thank you for this!
Shirley Ferguson says
This has been so encouraging. I would love to win the book for more encouragement. Thank you for sharing what you have learned.
Melody Smith says
Love this devotional and so needed it after being up half the night due to worry! Thank you!
I really love the idea of the breath prayers! As a mom of two young girls, my time to care for myself is also often short. I try to do a little meditation in the morning before they get up to center myself for the day. These breath prayers would be great to incorporate to reduce my anxiety and foster a sense of peace.
Sharon Jacobs says
Yes! I Peter 5:7. This book sounds really helpful. I have a friend who really suffers w/ anxiety issues.
Sara Smith says
I had a major health event in the fall of 2022. I have been on the road to recovery. Physically, I am almost back to where I was! Emotionally and spiritually, it has been really challenging. Eating healthy has been my challenge lately – I’ve gone to food for comfort. Thank you for your words today.
Gwyneth Kramer says
Thank you Bonnie for sharing your story and encouraging us to hope and take time to rest and give our worries to God.
Peggy Whitworth says
The little pieces shared found in this book are really good. Seems our world is suffering from anxiety, stress, and busyness. This will be a way to truly focus on what’s important and take time to Breathe in God’s word. I would love to be able to have a copy and share with others.
Sherry Chatham says
I would love to read & share your book Breathe! Please enter me in your drawing. Because of my severe heart problem that has disabled me (cardiomyopathy with heart muscle damage & failure I have been unable to work so my finances prohibit me from purchasing it. But if I have it I will share it with others going through stress as I am. My health issues have given me multiple opportunities to share Christ & His Love with others as He walks with me through the difficult days! Nehe.8:10 “the joy of the Lord is my strength!” AMEN! Love & prayers, Sherry Chatham a grateful reader!
Beautiful just beautiful
Congrats on your new book “Breathe”! I find that pausing throughout my day and taking a moment to do a breath prayer is helpful in calming down my anxiety. Thank you for encouraging us, Bonnie. Xo Karen H.
I so need this devotion. Had ankle surgery and it is so hard for me to just sit around and recover.
Love the idea of the breath prayer, listened to your podcast episode and it really spoke to me. Thank you for your advice❤️
sue nelson says
This article was the hope and breath of fresh air I need thank you
I needed to hear this message this morning! I need to take better care of myself, and that often gets lost in the midst of other worries. Thank you!
AMEN! Please keep me (AmaTHa) and my Mama Linda in your prayers.
I so look forward to this book. It is much needed, as I am in a season of stress, anxiety, and endless responsibilities. I need to do as you said and let go of certain responsibilities and the expectations that I hold. Thankful for your words!
Bonnie Fuhrman says
Powerful … breathe in I cast my cares on You Lord … You care for me …
Thank you, Bonnie gray .
I will breathe in Truth
Tammy Bogardus says
Bonnie, thank you for this devotional today. What a wonderful way to start my busy day. I definitely struggle with guilt when needing a break. Blessings to you today!
Thank you for this devotional. I am amazed at how God made us and that using breath prayers can help us in so many ways.
My priorities don’t match my actions. I should trust the priorities I’ve prayed over and lean into them instead of getting distracted by the things I “think” I should be doing.
The idea that “I should be..” often rules over His priorities for me, and that ends up interfering with the plans God has prepared for me. I don’t live in the fullness of His desires for me when I keep my eyes fixated on what the world desires me to be.
I hope to change little by little by bringing consciousness into my day, asking myself “does this task or thought make God happy? Would He want me to focus on this?”
I love your devotionals on Breathe! I need to learn daily to breathe in God’s Word and breathe out His truth!! Thank you for this opportunity to win one of your books.
Thank you, Bonnie!
Judy Utman says
I have been practicing the one minute (or three minute) pause now for a couple of years, but perhaps not as often I need to when life gets crazy. Over committing to good things can be as detrimental as one or two bad things, because the result is depletion of your reserves and acting out of your own strength instead of the Lord’s. He never meant us to go it alone and actually He knows that if we do, we are going to caught up the enemy’s tactics for our individual triggers and weak points. I find that I have to be intentional about taking that break because life just moves you along into a frenzy if I do not. Other people’s crazy encroaches on my life all the time!
I’ve had doctors telling me since my late teens, “You need to figure out how to manage your stress or else it could kill you someday.” I pretty much just rolled my eyes and ignored them. Now in my 40s, I’m experiencing physical illness from uncontrolled stress. I’m regretting not listening to the doctors earlier and being pro-active about this. I’ll definitely need to order a copy of this book!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Stress can come to all of us. Stress does come to all of us if we let it. My hair a few years ago began to fall out because of thyroid gland problem. Due to stress of feeling because my sister’s are working and got their kids and husband to see too. I got it into my head. I the only one to do my Dad’s as he is elderly and needs the help. Not getting himself dressed is the only thing he can do for himself. Doing his house and washing and walking his dog that he not able to do. I took it on myself to do most of it. As I was doing nothing else. My Dad does not see the mess for a man his age makes. You even as he needs his fire cleaned out every day as he lights it most days. Every day needs the floors hoovered and washed. His bed made every day. Every so often the bedsheets change and washes put on for him and hung out when finished for him. I got into my head I have to go at one time twice a day to my Dad’s as the dog needs walked twice just to see is my Dad ok. But it got the better of me. As I was not taking enough time for me. Even though I have no kids and not taking enough time to rest for myself. Nor enough time for my Husband and our own house. Then my hair began to fall out. With the stress of not spending enough time resting and worrying about my Dad. When one day I felt Jesus clearly speak to me. When I went to Doctor they told me I had a thyroid gland problem. Say Dawn I when was on earth. Took time out to rest and pray be about my Father business. You are going to have to do the same. Or your going to be no good to your Dad to help him. No good in your own home to your husband. So I had to listen to Jesus slow down and take time out for myself and spend time resting in the Lord and praying. Then a funny thing happened when I was going to tell my Dad I will still be going to him every day bar Sunday and only once a day. Not twice a day anymore. My Dad dog began to slow down and not want walked twice a day anymore. So it gave me the perfect timing to tell my Dad. There no point me coming twice a day to do your house and walk your dog. As the dog does not like being walked twice a day. As not fit. So I come do all in the mornings for you bar Sundays and walk the dog. Not come back in the afternoon. As no point coming in the afternoon when the dog does not want walking and not able only in the morning. I might as well do all then. My Dad was in agreement with me. Since then it has worked well. Dad’s dog is happier. My sister’s go at night to visit my Dad and if anything he needs done then. They do for him. So me listing to Jesus has helped my health and stress levels. Sometimes we must listen and do as Jesus says for our own healths good. Loved today’s reading. Keeping you all in prayer incourage. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Tracy I. says
Internalizing stress has caused physical issues for most of my life. With God’s help I’ve made progress, but I still struggle. I keep finding myself trying to heft way more than I can carry. Thanks for the reminder to breathe. I’m going to try to pray scripture while breathing like you suggested.
Julie Rainwater says
Thank you so much for your encouragement!!!
Jenn K says
Thank you for sharing!
Breath prayers are such a good idea! Thank you! (and also, everyone, get your health checkups every once in a while – sometimes things – hair loss or fatigue – are from a physical problem that can be medically fixed!… and sometimes it’s just us stressing.)
Heather Edwards says
I love the idea of breath prayers throughout the day. Thank you for the article on stress.
Cathy Fontenot says
I thought I’d already left a comment but I read through all of them and don’t see mine. What an encouraging book it must be. I would love to win a copy to encourage my soul. ♥️
Sarah Fink says
Great post! Thanks for the reminder to embrace self care!!
Ashley N Caldwell says
God has put me in a season of rest, and I couldn’t thank Him more for it. I have to remind myself by trusting and hoping in God and His plans for me that I will get back to a season of balance in serving others and taking care of myself but in THIS season of rest I really found inspiration in the breathe prayers and exercise. I pray this book blesses every person who reads it.
Wow what a wonderful book and I would love to read it
Dee McCollum says
I received this message while waiting at a specialist office to see if my eyesight in one eye is lost for good or can be regained.
This is my prayer.
Inhale: I cast all my anxiety on You.
Exhale: Because You care for me.
Mimi Barre says
Thank you for caring for me when I don’t even care for Myself. Thank you for reminding me that I am WORTH caring for and that Jesus wants me to care for myself. I can hear him say, “Mimi, Mimi, You are so concerned about things” as he did to Martha. I must choose to sit at his feet.
Janice Colston says
I really like the breath prayers to help me to remember not to worry, but to tell God about my stresses and worries.
This book sounds so good! Such a need, I get stressed out I have 3 kids.
Bonnie Kruse says
Excellent helps to focus on. Thank you!
Linda Hicks says
Stress can drain the mind, body, and spirit. Thanks for the encouraging words and enriching ideas to gain hope.
Thanks for the encouraging words and enriching ideas to gain hope.
Lately burnout has been way more common than not in my life. On the way to church on Palm Sunday, I thought of the image of trying to pour from an empty cup…and that day, I was like, “Lord, I don’t even think I have a cup anymore…I have NOTHING.” I have tried to be more aware and responsive to times I find myself needing replenishing, but I sure had missed it that time. It took a lot of complete withdrawal, rest, and quiet time to recover.
Thanks for this vital reminder with helpful, practical ways to refresh and care well for ourselves – as the Lord wants us to.
Your caption really hit home with me and how did you even know that I was feeling stressed out or burned out I’m taking care of too many people and I’m not taking care of myself and I don’t have any me time for me and I like your approach on how to get better and how to make changes to better my life
Kerryn T says
Just the title alone makes me want to curl up on the couch and soak it in 🙂
In Need Of Better Self Care says
I have been struggling with self care. It was very timely and fitting to read that Jesus encouraged the girl to eat because I have been skipping entire days without eating because of being so busy! I keep doing many all-nighters going all night without sleep repeatedly trying to catch up with housework, etc.
It definitely caught up to me a couple days ago when I felt lightheaded/dizzy, had heart arrhythmia, had painful cramping in both calves and toes, and kept nodding off asleep during a movie in the movie theater that I really wanted to see, etc.!
I have been malnutritioned, dehydrated, sleep deprived, out of shape, isolated, discouraged, overwhelmed, anxious, etc. for too long!
I did some self care and bought myself some Liquid IV electrolyte powder, some bottled water, a candle with a gentle/calm/soothing scent and some toilet paper and pantiliner feminine hygienic pads (even though I felt they were too expensive for me to afford which was very difficult for me to surrender to do for myself)!
I really hope that I win or could obtain your book for free and /or any of your other books or resources. I feel that I could really use it!
My friend could really use it as well because she works so many hours that she only got 12 hours of sleep in one week! She is constantly getting physically ill, etc.
I would love to be able to give her a copy of your book as well (not that she would ever have time to read it! LOL) but maybe if it was in audio form for free she could maybe listen to it while she’s driving in her car to and from work or when she’s feeding her cats and cleaning their litter boxes, etc. listening a little at a time!
Maybe she could listen to it when she’s flying on a plane as she often does for work. Maybe she could squeeze it in then! 🙂 Hopefully…! 🙂
Anyways, thank you again for writing this book, for your ministry to reach out to help others and also for doing this book giveaway. Be encouraged. 🙂
I have been very stressed out with work. Earlier this year I actually was googling symptoms of a heart attack in women and found that shockingly, your blood pressure may not even elevate during a heart attack. I was hoping my iwatch would inform me if I needed to take my tension and shortness of breath more seriously than I was. This book is definitely something I am interested in reading. Thank you for the opportunity to enter a chance to win it.
Sharon Sweatt says
Just ordered the book, My stress level is too high!
This post was so timely for me – I would love to read this book! Thank you!
I really like the thought of saying one thing as we breathe in and another as we exhale. It not only focuses our mind on God, but also our breath. Many of us who are stressed, don’t breathe.
What a necessary and often overlooked reminder to just breathe. This story is familiar and inspiring to pause and pursue the rest offered in Jesus. Breath prayers are an imperative part of my daily life. Thank you Bonnie (as I currently sit doing my long hair with new techniques to combat the stress thinning it experienced)!
Dawn Amanda says
I used to push through and put off caring for myself a LOT. Then I had a heart attack almost 10 years ago. It was a widow maker and I would have died had I not known what it was and took aspirin and told them what was going on in no uncertain terms. They hooked me up and said, “Yep, you are having a heart attack!” I am still here and I may not be as active as I once was and can’t do all I used to do, but I have learned to take better care of myself. I still have to sometimes force myself to stop and just take a few deep breaths and refocus. I try to take better care of myself. I can’t fill others from an empty cup. The breath prayers are an interesting technique that I am going to have to try. I am actually mellowing a little bit and lowered my stress a great deal, but I still have a long way to go!
The brokeness in our family is beyond fixing. This black cloud of my husbands past sin has followed us for over 40 years. The sin has been forgiven but the consequences continue. I love him but being an innocent victim has left me hopeless that this mountain is too big for God to heal. I wish I could disappear
Beth Williams says
This is a much needed book. Women tend to be nurturers and fixers. We feel we must do everything to keep the family & house running. Take care of ourselves-ha! Who has time? Throw in the pandemic & it’s added responsibilities & the stress levels go up. What we don’t realize is that all that stress is causing health issues that can kill us. Lysa Terkeurst said it best in her book “The Best Yes”: “Saying yes to everyone & everything won’t make you wonder woman. It will make you a worn out woman with nothing left to give.” We need to be proactive & get assistance with some of our chores. For me I recently started working full-time again. I simply asked my hubby to help out some. Do a load of laundry, run dishwasher, etc. He is doing this & it helps me have time for myself to relax & calm down from work.