You’ve been there. All you want is a little relief from your stress filled life that seems to be the norm lately.
The kids are screaming. Dinner just burned. The dishwasher is foaming at the mouth. And the husband just called to say that he hit a raccoon and demolished the front end of his car.
Just another day in the life…
I’ve been told that I work well under pressure. Maybe that’s what the world sees, but internally, when the pressure gets too heavy, I often feel like I’m losing my grip on sanity.
Like you, I’ve had those feelings of having the last straw burned right there before my eyes.
… of watching the last marble roll off the table, out the door, and into the sewage drain.
… of having that very last nerve jumped on, twisted, and diced into a thousand tiny pieces.
And somehow we have lived to tell the story.
Through the stress and moments of chaos, I generally maintain my sense of humor and ability to keep my head on.
“What’s your secret?” I’ve been asked.
First and foremost, what I have is no secret. But I’ll gladly share my “non-secrets” with you today.
The number one thing that keeps me going through those moments of chaos is the fact that I know I Know I KNOW that God has me here for a purpose – like it or not. Whether He is growing me, teaching me, shaping me, or doing something that has absolutely nothing to do with me, He is in charge and knows what He is doing.
I believe the words “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
So in those moments, I have faith that no matter what this moment may feel like right now, I am loved and perfectly-cared for by the Maker of the universe.
I am constantly aware of my own thoughts and the energy that they carry. With that, I have realized what external things send my mind spiraling into those dark recesses that none of us like to visit.
For example, I absolutely cannot spend time with negative people. Can’t do it.
When I find myself in the presence of someone else who is full of criticism and negativity, I realize I get s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d to the max! Seriously. Stressed and ticked. (We could go into why, but that’ll take a whole book – and neither one of us has time for that right now.)
Recognizing this trigger is key for my ability to control my stress levels. Knowing your own triggers and preparing yourself for the times you will encounter those can help you avoid the more stressful moments.
Let’s face it. Life is life and we can’t spend it in a bubble. What fun would that be, anyway? Those triggers we were just talking about are going to cross our paths. So are a myriad of other things that pile up and send us over the edge. Stress is going to happen to even the most resilient of us.
The question is most certainly not “Will I endure stressful times?” but “How will I endure stressful times?”
You have to find a way to relax, refresh, and recharge. For some, that’s a good book, a long drive, or an evening out with some girlfriends. For me, my inner-introvert craves a nice dark, quiet space while my inner (and outer) fat-girl likes to cook up a new delish dish. Since cooking in the dark probably isn’t the wisest choice (and might cause a different kind of stress), I choose to keep these two activities separate.
But maybe that could be the next reality show… A&E, I’ll be waiting for your call.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about stress was to ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years? Wow. Seriously?
So many times I have absolutely freaked out about something that wouldn’t matter in 5 minutes, let alone 5 years. So in short, ask yourself, is this stress for a minute, a moment, or a millennium? Then allow yourself the freedom to apply the correct amount of pressure where needed.
Choosing an appropriate career = Long-Term Big Deal.
Getting your child to put his shirt on = Not a long-term big deal.
Resist the urge to call up your girlfriends or your momma and vent all of your frustrations out to them. The old adage of “Just get it out” isn’t always helpful. Here’s why.
Chances are, you’re not going to call someone who is going to give it to you straight if you’re being silly. No. You’re going to call someone who is going to be “supportive” and “on your side.”
“Oooh! He didn’t put his underwear in the hamper again! He’s always doing this! Mary and I were just talking about this. Why can’t men just pick up after themselves?! I’m gonna call her right now. She’s not going to believe this ridiculousness!”
You know what I’m talking about. So you call up your girlfriend and you both start hashing away at how awful the whole mess is. Before you know it, you’re both so worked up over the issue that it’s now snowballed way beyond the point of any natural return. You’re mad. She’s mad. It’s a big ole ball of madness.
Don’t do that. For real. Stop it.
There is only ONE whom you should take your struggles to. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
While we’re talking about it… keep your fingers away from social media when you’re stressed too. There’s not much good to be had there either.
Get up and move!
Finally, I’m going to challenge you to get a shift in perspective by shifting your derriere out of that chair. We have become such a sedentary society that it’s easy to forget the benefits of actual movement. Go for a walk. Do some push ups. Go jump on the trampoline with the kids. Just move.
Now I’m not promising that doing any or all of these things will rid your life of stress. No way. I have loads of stress in my life. Loads upon loads. But if you can follow these basic guidelines, you will be better equipped to maintain your sanity during those times.
When you notice you are reaching your limit, what do you do to recharge?