When stress and the worries of this world seem to overtake us, how can we calm down?
Life is moving so fast we don’t have time to breathe. Stress can be overwhelming. It can create havoc with our bodies—migranes, uncontrollable anger, endless frustration, stomach problems, ulcers, heart disease, obesity, alcoholism and the list is endless.
It seems there is no relief. Things mount to a crescendo. A thousand things crying for our attention. If we are a mom, that is literally true.
Stay-at-home moms feel like they do enough to hold up their end of the bargain. When their husband comes home, laundry isn’t done, supper’s not on the table and the last thing they feel like doing is the first thing he seems to want to do. They feel like a total failure. Well, not totally, at least the kids are still alive.
Working women feel they never have a moment’s time to themselves. Any money made goes to pay bills. There’s not a minute to take time for themselves.
And yet they feel they must continue to work to provide the best for their children, name brand clothes, the newest tennis shoes, dance lessons, soccer cleats, baseball uniforms, flute lessons, voice lessons, involvement in every school extracurricular activity, a new home, new car. They are not sure whether they are going or coming but they just know they MUST provide everything and do everything.
Welcome to the world of fast and furious.
In the midst of everything we as women, single or married, are trying to do, there is no time for just … breathing.
And yet, for our own peace of mind and that of our family and friends, that’s exactly what we need to do.
We must find the calm in the midst of the storm of our life if we are to survive and be of any use to ourselves and those we love.
First, we have to set firm boundaries for our lives and stick to them.
I’m good at this in regard to what I eat and when I exercise.
I’m not good at stopping to take time for myself.
This week, though, is my anniversary. Today, April 9, I have been married 37 years to the same man. My husband and I are right now hold up in a room in an Inn in Eureka Springs, Ark., taking time to enjoy each other. I’ll not elaborate any further.
I tell you this because I recognize my need to take time to rest, recreate and have fun.
My husband is the king of having fun. On his list for our two days away, besides lots of one on one time, is hiking, taking some beautiful photographs, exploring places he’s never been before and maybe sneaking in a motorcycle ride.
I want to do read a good book. Maybe write something fun, sleep late, make my mind like water, think of nothing speci\ial but take notes of special God-notes, enjoy the beauty of nature, listen to my husband talk, hold hands and dream, a lot.
In other words, I am taking a break from the hustle and bustle of ordinary life to just be me. I have to do that every once in awhile because without that who am I?
I am prone to worry and stress when I don’t keep who I am in the forefront of my mind and heart.
One of the biggest times I am prone to be stressed is when I feel overwhelmed. This happens when I take on too much, when I forget how to say the simple word, “No.”
When I don’t say that word I get overly frustrated and buried in the muck and mire of “I can’t get everything done and the world is coming to and end.” Then, I want to eat something, anything on the off chance that it might possibly make me feel better. And since I know that isn’t true and have my boundaries firmly in place in that area, I just find myself spinning my wheels getting nothing done which makes me more stressed.
I have learned some ways to help calm down.
A good way for me is to change scenery. I get out of my office where I’m staring at the walls wishing I hadn’t taken on so many projects. I go do an errand. Just that act alone helps. It gets something off of my to-do list and helps me think in a different environment.
I do my water exercise. I read scripture. I listen to calming music. I journal.
I happened to be married to the calmest and most peaceful man on the planet earth. He centers me when everything seems to be falling apart. Just being able to tell him my problems and hear his wisdom helps.
More than anything, though, what calms me down is time spent in the presence of God Almighty, quality time where I listen more than talk. When my back is up against the wall, I go to Him first. I say, “I’m here, Father. What do you need to tell me?” And then I spend time listening with my heart, mind, soul and spirit tuned to Him.
Most of the time it is face-down-on-the-floor praying. It’s the kind that says I mean business, God. I need an intervention.
In the final analysis, it’s always the God-connection that helps me calm down.
I see things clearer. I decide what things I have to do right now, what things can wait until tomorrow and what things can wait a week or more. I decide which of these things, even the urgent things, can I delegate to someone else. Many times I see this clearly in a flash of insight.
If it’s something else I’m stressed about I decide, is this something I can do something about or am I just worrying about it?
If the answer is that I am worrying about it, I may journal my prayers. Doing that helps me see things clearer and lets me know this is not my issue. I need not worry about it. I leave it in God’s capable hands.
When I find myself worrying about it again, putting my thoughts through an endless spin cycle, I remind myself, I gave those to God. I am not worrying about them any more. I take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.1
As I continue to do that, it helps me focus on things I can do something about.
Stress is relieved when I breathe in the things I can do and breathe out the things I have no business being concerned about or taking on.
Stress is relieved when I just plain calm down and hand my burdens to God, receiving in exchange, His peace.
1 2 Corinthians 10:5
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.