Feeling stressed out? Seek God's peace to find a haven of rest

As singles, we have to do it all, and that can often lead to feeling stressed out

No one shares our chores with us. We have to do everything married couples do to run their household, but we have to do it alone. Add the everyday stress from your job, and you're looking at a dangerous load.

How can we cope with life when pressure builds up? How can we respond with calmness and confidence, instead of reacting with agitation and fear?

Feeling stressed out leaves you exhausted

Self-imposed standards

Sometimes we set our own standards too high. We secretly want to impress the world with how "together" we are.

The truth is that we may be like the little duck that looks serene and calm but under the surface is paddling like crazy.

When we're feeling stressed out, inevitably something has to give. There just aren't enough hours in the day to pack in all kinds of activities and do each one perfectly.

I once had a boss who felt she should be the perfect manager, perfect wife, and perfect mother. Eventually she realized she was expecting far too much from herself but that insight came only after a near nervous collapse.

As singles, we don't have a spouse or children to satisfy, but often we are overly concerned about what others think of us. It takes strong self-esteem to stop worrying about their approval.

Over time, we learn that if we're going to thrive in our own life, we need to be less concerned about what others think.

Feeling stressed out at work

I know something about workplace stress. In my last job, I wrote, edited and designed a bimonthly national newsletter. I wrote 50 different news releases a month and mailed them out. I wrote advertising and also proofread all of the company's printed materials. I conducted tours of the facility for potential customers. And, often my phone would ring and within 30 seconds I'd be doing a live interview on a radio station halfway across the country.

Constant deadlines can get on your nerves. Producing accurate, error-free work can be stressful too. Doing the work of two or three people can be extremely stressful.

We can't be afraid to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness or incompetence. It's just wise management of your most important resource: you.

Decompressing at home

When work is super-hectic, it becomes even more important to wind down at home. One proven way is with a hobby. Listening to relaxing music is another effective way to settle down.

Outside of work, where you have a choice, it's important not to over-commit. Don't feel guilty about saying no. You deserve some time to yourself to do what you want to do.

My grandfather's prescription for stress

My maternal grandfather, Ed Haar Sr., was a man who talked slowly, moved slowly, and rarely got ruffled. As a child I remember him telling me to "take it easy." When you're seven years old and Christmas is a week away, that's hard to do.

When I became an adult, I saw the wisdom in his three-word prescription for stress. Our culture doesn't take it easy.

Rage is everywhere. Overcrowding and high prices assault us from every side. Feeling stressed out can lead to substance abuse, violence, arguments, and other destructive behavior. People are taking it "hard" when they should be taking it easy.

I don't know how Gramp would have responded to today's franctic society, but I expect that "taking it easy" would be more relevant than ever.

Hectic life, calm prayers

Prayer and spending quiet time with God keeps your life in perspective.

Do-or-die situations at work may seem tremendously important at the time, but a year later, you can't even remember what all the fuss was about. That's not to say that you should goof off, but staying in close touch with God can put some needed balance in your life.

When your work life is hectic, you need to make your prayer life calm. You need to give God a chance to work in your life.

You also need to guard against going at your prayers as if they're just another project at work that you have to tackle, check off your "to do" list, and move on to the next item.

Reading the Bible, without any TV or music competing for your attention, can help remind you of God's care for you. Taking a slow, unhurried walk (without an iPod) can also produce calm. By consciously slowing down your body, your mind often follows.

When you're feeling stressed out, immersing yourself in God and deliberately seeking his peace can draw you back to what really matters--and what will matter in your life 100 years from now.

Your job title may change several times throughout your life, but your identity as a saved child of God will never change, for all eternity. Remembering that can be very comforting when you're feeling stressed out.

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