I don’t know about you, but there are seasons in my life where I feel quite stressed and I find myself praying – “Lord how can I reduce my stress levels?”
Right now is one of those seasons – launching this website, preparing for new students to join our Basic Leadership program as well as revamping said program is making my days very full.
There are times, even this week when I’ve physically felt quite stressed. It’s like my insides are running, and my outsides are being dragged along because I’m so tired. I did get to the point where I wondered if there was physically something wrong with me – did I have high blood pressure?!?! But after several checks, my blood pressure was perfect, and my heart rate, although high, not too high.
So why was I feeling waves of Ahhhh regularly? All I can put it down to is stress.
There are a lot of things I’m carrying right now, most of which are brand new, good, exciting things. Somethings I can’t delegate too much out yet or give to others. Birthing a new website and revamping a leadership school I’ve newly taken over leading are responsibilities I need to carry.
But I find myself praying, almost daily – Lord, how can I be less stressed? How can I reduce my stress levels, so I don’t feel them physically?
Some stress is healthy, even good for us. It helps us develop our muscles, gifts and relationship with God – especially if we are stepping out of our comfort zones and trusting God in faith that it’s not only going to work out but go well.
As I’ve honestly shared above, I am currently feeling stressed. But I’m not accepting that this is the way things have to be right now and hope they’ll get better on their own, (even if part of me is praying for this to happen). I am pursuing with God and those I’m accountable to the answers to – how can I reduce my stress?
What can I do to reduce my stress?
Invite God into the reality of your situation, talk to our Heavenly Father about all your feeling and going through.
2. Take time to love yourself
Perhaps with a wise friend, to look at the physical areas of your life, are we doing enough to love our self and our body to give it what it needs to handle our busy life?
- Sleep – am I getting enough sleep and rest? Our bodies need 8hours of sleep a night.
- Food – am I eating regularly and healthy meals? How many sugary, salty, fatty foods/snacks do I consume in a day/ week?
- Physical exercise – have I gone outside today, taken a walk, or done some kind of heart-pumping activity? (this is one area, I’m determined to add back into my routine again).
- Fun time – what do I do each day for fun, relaxation? When was the last time I laughed and how can I add that in more often?
- Screen time – How much awake time do I spend away from a screen? With all the smart devices around, I can easily switch between my laptop, iPad and phone all day, so my eyes and thus brain aren’t getting a break.
- God time – How’s your personal time with God going? Are you having any daily? Taking time with God by yourself each day is worth 10x its weight in time. Partly because you are developing your relationship with God but mostly because you are renewing and refreshing yourself spiritually.
- Holiday? When was the last time you took a day/ week off – had a holiday? Is this your body’s way of saying, hey I need more of a break, please?
- Breath – there are some fantastic apps, resources out there to help you do this more. But take a few minutes every hour to just stop. Put your feet on the floor, close your eyes and slowly take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly out your mouth. Turning your thoughts and spirit towards God while feeling the firmness of the ground beneath you.
3. My weekly schedule
The busier I am, the more I schedule time in for almost everything in my working week. Partly to help my brain not have to remember everything and everyone I need to make time for that week. But also to give me the freedom of only having to concentrate on the one thing I’ve scheduled in for that time slot.
Taking the time to plan my week, prioritise what really needs to be done and when in the week helps keep the non-urgent stuff fewer places to squirm their way into more time that they ought to have. But too much structure is hard and stressful also. So I give myself at least one day off per week, (usually a Saturday) where I don’t schedule anything. Where I can turn off time and do what I feel like, which right now is often a whole lot of nothing. Plus, we are commanded to have a Sabbath day every week too.
4. Delegating, asking for help?
Is there anything I’m doing which I could delegate to someone else or ask someone to help me work on? Other than my primary responsibilities, there are other things I do, help with or would like to be available to help others with. It’s not good to say no to everything and everyone because we are called to serve and bless others too. Plus doing something for someone else gives us a break from our other ‘stuff’. Which can provide us with the distance and perspective we need to come back to our work with fresh ideas and solutions. But perhaps for a few weeks, we can do a little less or invite others to help us for a season, so we don’t have to carry it alone.
Some of us would prefer to work alone, have full control and want it done perfectly. It’s part of our personality and who we are. But perhaps, if we are doing too much so everything is suffering, we can look to see who else is around who can help or even, dare I say, do a better job than we can because it’s an area they are gifted it. Delegating is a great way to share our load but also recognise other’s talents, and together we can produce so much more. And as leaders, we want to provide our team with opportunities to grow and develop. So this might be an excellent opportunity for you both.
5. Planning for deadlines.
Some of us are great at planning, others prefer to wait until the deadline is looming and pull a few all-nighters to finish last minute. If you tend to be more of the latter than the former, perhaps getting help to plan ahead or give yourself mini-deadlines instead. Thus everything doesn’t need to be done in crazy whirlwind time.
Today I am more of a planner than I’ve ever been in my life. But if I want to do things well and enjoy the process, then things need to be given the time and space they deserve. So write down everything you think needs to be done for that project and then provide them with an order to be done in and realistic time frames. This really does help limit the number of times I’ve felt overwhelmed and keeps my brain from exploding as it tried to hold everything together mentally.
6. Give yourself permission.
It is ok and not a sign of failure to feel stressed. There are times when it’s ok to not finish doing something today, or it not being totally perfect. It’s ok to feel at times a little overwhelmed and like you can’t cope.
It’s also ok to say “No” when someone else asks you to help with something. Others don’t know what your schedule looks like, they are just inviting you to join them in doing something. But you don’t have to do it. (Unless your boss says so, but you can ask them to help you work out how to add in new work or what can wait if their new request has to be done today). For some of us, saying “sorry, no” is the hardest thing to do, because we do want to help. I had to say “sorry, can I say no” to my leader this week to help with hosting a meal at the weekend. Which she was very ok for me to say no too. As she knows how busy I am right now and doesn’t expect me to say yes to everything but have the maturity to know which is right for that situation. I may feel ‘bad’ that I can’t help this time, but she doesn’t. So I needed to choose to be ok with the no too. We can only give people the freedom to say yes when they also have the freedom to say no without any consequences.
7. Visit your Doctor
Lastly – if you have been feeling physically stressed, anxious… a lot recently (or for longer), go get yourself checked out by your doctor. They know way more than I do about you physically and will be able to tell if there is something more going on. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Hopefully, some of these tips can help you either become less stressed or manage your busy seasons better. We need to take care of our whole selves more than what the fast-paced world seems to allow. You are worth it 🙂
“Look at the birds of the air, they do not so or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worring can add a single hour to his life.”