Do you feel overwhelmed today?
Most people do from time to time. It’s only natural to go through seasons where life is very fast paced, even hectic. During those times we find our self in a balancing act. We creatively try to spin the “plates” in our life, so that none of them fall. A person can’t do this for long. So the problem begins to arise when our life changes from the normal “seasons” of stress, to living with stress all the time. Not only is it very unhealthy to live in a perpetual season of stress; but it’s also impossible. You can “spin the plates” for a while. You can even do a great job at it for a time; but sooner or later the things we’re spinning start to lose the perfectly timed balance we’ve worked so hard to achieve and they simply start to fall. We find it increasingly difficult to multitask in a multitasking world.
Stress comes from the inability to focus. You don’t know where to look next. Things are coming at you so fast that you really don’t know what to do except cope; and hope for the best. In the middle of all this, I’d like to offer a few decisions that have proven to help in my own stress-filled world.
Realize that not everything is worth stressing about.
This seems way too simplistic…but please don’t dismiss what I’m about to say, okay? Here’s the deal, it took me a long time…I mean a really long time to understand this for myself. In fact, I still find myself learning this principle and making this decision. But it’s true. Not everything is worthy of your worry. We tend to place everything at the top of the priority list; and it just doesn’t work. There’s only room at the top for the one or two most important things. All the other stuff that we stress over has to go. Let me ask you a question…is the source of your stress important or is it just urgent? Not everything that is urgent is important. Urgent items can get added to our priority list when we lack the focus that we need to concentrate on the truly important things in our life.
Only stress about things you can help.
When you have a deadline approaching and you still have the possibility to work towards your deadline…then stress…or rather do everything you can to help your situation. Work harder. Do more. Sleep less. Get stuff done. But once you pass the point of being able to help whatever it is that’s been causing you stress, you have to learn to let go of it. If it is humanly impossible for you to intervene in your circumstance, then why stress about it? It is what it is. If there’s nothing that you can do about it, then why worry and stress over it? In fact, no amount of worry can change a situation…hey, didn’t Jesus say something like that? Now, let me add this in…learning to let go of the things you can’t help is not easy…but it’s necessary. If you are going to save your sanity and not have a heart attack, then you’ve got to learn to make the decision to stress only about what you can actually help.
Remember that God makes the difference.
In the bottom-line, we have to go back to what Jesus said about worry and stress. Is it going to make any difference how much we worry? How is it going to improve our life to spend every waking moment consumed by worry, stress, doubt, and fear? So here’s something to think about…God can make a difference in your situation. When we can’t do anything about the source of our stress, God can. That’s good news. Why not spend some time asking God to help you? You know, it just might work! In the church where I attended as a boy, there was a sign that hung at the front of the building. I took that sign for granted for many years. I assumed that it was just something nice to say…a christian cliche. But it was actually so much more…the sign had these words on it, “prayer changes things”. Over the course of my life, there have been many times that I’ve had to prove that sign correct. God has come through more than once or twice. He has transformed situations, where the answer…the fix, would have been humanly impossible. Why not call out to God for help? He makes the difference.
Now…a practical tip.
Keep a checklist.
Speaking of stress, I can’t stress this enough! Many times our stress is the product of our own making. We feel stressed at times simply because we can’t see that all of our hard work has accomplished anything. In reality, I bet you actually accomplish quite a bit everyday. The solution to realize that, is keeping a checklist. It’s not just a memory tool (which I really do need, by the way); but it’s a way to add some definition to what you get done on a daily basis. I add everything to my checklist. It’s a great feeling to mark something off throughout the day and realize it’s done…it’s not coming back! A simple tool that I found about four years ago is Evernote. I use it daily. It works on everything. My iPhone, Macbook, iPad…they all contain this amazingly useful, yet simple to learn app. Best of all it’s free! I find new uses for it every single day. In fact, you’ll probably see a post or two dedicated to learning about Evernote from time to time because it adds such value in my life.
I’m curious…what tips do you have to reduce stress in a person’s daily life? I would love to hear your answers, so leave a comment in the box below. Have a great stress free day!