Day 6: Reduce Stress and Live More Calmly
Missed some posts in this series? You can read them here.
How do you feel most days? Calm, focused and purposeful? Stressed, scattered and distracted? Or something in between? Many women yearn for calm but feel stressed, as if they’re being pulled in a dozen directions. They aspire to a peaceful home, an organized office, a manageable schedule and a little time to relax with their families, but instead find that they’re running on empty, trying to do entirely too many tasks each day. If that’s the way you feel, here are some ideas for reducing stress and living more calmly.
- Infuse your day with prayer. If you’re like me, you frequently forget this obvious and important step! I tend to charge through my days, tackling my to-do list without asking God what He wants me to do. Ask Him for guidance each day. Ask what He wants you to accomplish today/this week/this month and for the strength to accomplish those things. He won’t ask us to do things He doesn’t equip us (spiritually, physically, emotionally or intellectually) to do. Yes, we’ll experience times when our resources are put to the test, but I think we often create difficult times we weren’t meant to face. We drive ourselves crazy, because we’re doing things He hasn’t called us to do. They may be very good things, but they may not be “our” things.
- Set priorities. Work with your husband to set realistic priorities for your family. What is most important to the two of you? What is God calling you to do? What do you want to focus on over the next year? You may need to limit your priorities to just a few, especially if you have children at home. I like to think of it as “framing” your family’s life, then keeping the things you do inside the “frame” you have established.
- Calibrate your expectations. Once you’ve identified your priorities, set realistic expectations. For example, if homeschooling is a priority, you’ll probably need to say no to some commitments and accept that your house won’t stay neat and clean most of the time. If spending more time together as a couple is a priority, you may need to let go of some activities, even some that are very worthwhile. Or if you’ve started to work outside your home, then you’ll have to let go of some things you did when you stayed home. Set realistic expectations so you don’t end up disappointing yourself continually. You just can’t do it all – no one can.
- Manage your family’s schedule. In many families, mom and dad are not controlling the schedule. Some families are allowing the children to determine how the family’s time, energy and money are spent. In others, no one is deciding – family members just commit to activities without any plan for best using the family’s resources. The most obvious culprit is children’s activities – sports, lessons, and social activities can absorb every moment of free time and then some! But parents can overcommit too, allowing their church, community and social activities to suck up inordinate amounts of time. If you want to maintain any kind of calm and sanity, you and your husband must manage your family’s schedule.
- Organize the things that create stress in your life. You know those little things that drive you crazy on a regular basis – the missing school papers, bills lost in piles of mail, closets crammed with clothes nobody wears, children’s rooms strewn with toys? They seem small, but they cause major stress for many women. Do you have any of those (or similar) disorganized messes at your house? (I do!) If so, pick just one and organize it this week. Next week, maintain it and begin to work on one more. Over a month or two, you’ll reduce significant sources of stress in your life. Think you don’t have time to tackle even one? Then pick one and work on it for 15 minutes a day until you have it under control. Then start on another one.
- Practice health habits that reduce stress and increase calm. The way you treat your body influences your stress level. If you treat your body poorly, you’re more likely to feel stressed and worn out. And your risk of getting sick increases. So take care of the body God gave you! Exercise regularly – walking 30 minutes a day improves your fitness and reduces your stress. Eat more real foods – processed and fast foods don’t provide all the nutrients your body needs, and they introduce chemicals and preservatives it definitely doesn’t need. And get enough sleep. Almost everyone needs 7-8 hours each night. Try these health habits for several weeks – I think you’ll feel more relaxed and energetic.
Despite our best efforts, though, sometimes life is stressful in ways we can’t avoid. When that happens, prioritize and manage your life even more carefully, perhaps by reducing your commitments to an absolute minimum. Continue to pray, and work with your husband to “ride out the storm” together.
Photo credit – © Anna Omelchenko – Fotolia
Loved all of your ideas, Gaye! It’s imperative to bring these ideas into our lives so our marriages can thrive rather than wilt in the midst of chaos!! Thanks for sharing these calming ways with us!
Thank you, Jolene!
Do I ever need to keep these in mind! Especially organizing, prioritizing, and not letting less-important things take over my time. Thank you so much for this reminder–I’ll have to come back and read it over again! 🙂
Thanks Jaimie! I need them too! Much of this is really just a reminder to myself.
Such beautiful encouragement!
Thank you, Jenifer!
These are all great tips, Gaye! I love how you encourage us with the reminder that God equips us for the things He has called us to do. Also love how you gently remind us that sometimes we are doing things that He hasn’t asked us to do.
My hubby tries to remind me of that from time to time. He reminds me that I don’t have to sign up for everything. Sometimes I guess I just sign up to help with things and bring things and don’t necessarily think about the time factor involved. And sometimes I probably think “I’m the pastor’s wife, I need to sign up first and get the ball rolling,” lol!
Recently I signed myself up to bring a meal and serve it to eight visiting youth at someone’s else. Unfortunately, I signed up on the same night where I am leading a study group. Conflict!
Had I been more prayerful and thoughtful, instead of just leaping to sign up, I could have eliminated the stress of trying to find someone to serve the meal in my place since I couldn’t be two places at once, lol! I will pray about the big things but it’s often the little things that trip me up because I jump first, haha!
That’s supposed to read “eight visiting youth at someone’s HOUSE!” 😉
Thanks for your kind words, Nan! I do think the little things are often the ones that trip us up if we aren’t intentional about them. And I feel certain that the pressure on a pastor’s wife to get involved in every activity is pretty strong!
Well, some people DO expect their pastor’s wife to get involved in nearly everything, but sometimes we put our own expectations on ourselves too, lol! I just remind myself that I am the pastor’s wife, not the church’s wife, and that I have to be able to remember my God’given priorities.
These are very do-able, Gaye! I agree with momstheword, you made a great point that we create more issues than we were called to do, sometimes. God is the God of peace not chaos!
Thanks Bonny! I always appreciate your encouragement. And I do believe that God is the God of peace, not chaos. So when I’m in the midst of chaos, very often it is of my own creation!
Boy, did I need to read this post! Thanks, Gaye.
Thanks J! I know you have been having a stressful month. You may have to go with “reducing commitments to an absolute minimum” for a while! I have definitely been there before.
i want a divorce now, we married for 2years with a son, nothing i do pleases my husband. he has never made love to me ever since i got pregnant. at a point he said i had to go and apologies to his parents, he never calls till i call. i am confused and think we have come to the end of our marriage and have to let go….. tnx
I’ve said a prayer over your marriage for understanding and patience. There is a post on here about loving your husband when you feel he least deserves it, and that’s how we realize that “wow, we are powerful!” Because God made us this way. Understand why his feelings have changed and show him that you still love and respect him.
We sometimes don’t realize that our husbands may be reacting to how WE have changed. Also, please seek counseling from your church pastor.
I wish you the best.
#1 Infuse Your Day with Prayer. Above all I need to keep this in mind. I start out each day at my desk with an emailed lesson and prayer. I’ve gotten so busy at work and home lately that I found myself skipping over this email. No wonder, I have been feeling so frantic. Prayer will help me to stay focused and I should never let things get so busy that I don’t have time to pray. I have been working on not letting outside forces be in charge of my schedule, but there is still much work to be done. I am also working on organizing certain areas of my home that drive me nuts. I can’t tell you how much time I save now that I organized my kitchen drawers. Now, if I could only do the same with my shoes! Thank you for always encouraging words. I don’t know what I would do without you.
Thank you Christina. You know I appreciate you and your encouraging words so much! “Get so busy that I don’t have time to pray” – it sounds ridiculous when you actually type it out, doesn’t it. But I find myself there far too often.
Yes, those small organization projects, like the kitchen drawers, can make a world of difference.
My greatest challenge is in setting realistic expectations and goals. I honestly think I can cram 28 hours of busy work into an 8 hour window of time in my day. I’m a striver. Always have been. My schedule goes into a sea of red, delinquent tasks every day and so much gets pushed to the next day and the next. Every once in a while I get smart and go through the list of to do’s and just start deleting. I always feel so free and refreshed when I do that, too! But I know when I’m stressed out and pushing against my own unrealistic deadlines for things, my family feels the overflow of emotion from me and they don’t enjoy it one bit. I’m a work in-progress. Your post really helped me realize God doesn’t want chaos for my life. He isn’t necessarily calling me to do everything I think I should do. Time for me to take a step back and reevaluate things. Again. Lol! 🙂 Really enjoyed reading this post, Gaye.
Thank you, Rosann. I am definitely a work in progress too, in terms of knowing what I realistically can and cannot do. I have to say that my husband is much better at that than I am, and I’ve learned from his example over the years. And I do like to keep in mind that God is not a God of chaos.
These are some wonderful suggestions. I actually had read this post earlier on my phone, but it’s so hard to comment from my phone that I didn’t. However, what I did do was take to heart what you suggested.
Guess what? Today was filled with many eventful activities that were all very stressful. Prior to reading your post along with another series I’ve been following for the last 30 days, I would have lost my mind. However, with your series and her’s, I feel God moving mountains in my life. He’s answering my prayers for help and strength to get through being a stay-at-home Mom by myself homeschooling my three kids (and housetraining a puppy) far more hours than I ever dreamed I would.
So, I’m glad you are doing this series. Thank you.
Hi Crystal – I’m so glad that the post and series are helpful to you, and that you can see God working in your busy and tiring circumstances.
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