I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety lately. Been going at a break-neck pace and it’s time to slow down. I know I’m not alone. Last week, Jon said he’s been feeling anxious too and I had a similar conversation with the high school girls I meet with on Wednesdays.
For me, it happens when I’ve got a lot on my plate and I’m trying to keep all the balls in the air. My high school girls and I were discussing how it seems like most of our time is scheduled and there’s no down time to rest and recharge.
When the speed of life tries to force me into overdrive here’s how it plays out in my day: I wake up and have only a fleeting moment of rest. My mind starts ticking down what I need to accomplish and, even before my feet hit the ground, dread rises up from my gut. Depending on my mood and energy level, I either want to roll over and avoid it all or hit the ground running, trying to stay just ahead of the panic that’s doggedly chasing me.
I know this isn’t how I’m supposed to live. Jesus didn’t die on a cross for me to remain a slave. I’ve been set free; been given the gift of abundant life. How come I don’t feel free all the time?
This sick-to-my-stomach feeling is a signal that I need to downshift and re-evaluate my priorities. My fear of dropping one of the balls I’m juggling is usually tied to a pressure to please others. Something that isn’t all bad but, at an extreme, is unhealthy and dangerous.
Sometimes I turn “off” by lying on the couch and watching TV or crawling into in bed with a good book. Other times, that becomes a way of avoiding the obvious (that I have a ton of stuff to do) and what I really need to do is plant myself in a chair for an hour to open mail and pay bills or turn on some music and plow through three loads of laundry.
Here are some other things I find helpful:
- Say “no” to all nonessentials, at least for a little while, until I get my footing back.
- Exercise regularly to lessen my stress. It also helps me focus on the next task at hand, instead of feel overwhelmed by the sum of them.
- Plan several nights a week where I have no commitments and can shut down earlier. This may also mean setting aside that book I’m dying to finish to make sure I get a good night’s sleep.
- Have more–not less–sex with my husband. ‘Cause, let’s face it: when has less sex ever helped a marriage?
- Walk to pick up the girls from school instead of driving the three blocks to sit in a carpool line. This gets me out in the fresh air and gives me uninterrupted time to talk with the kids and listen to the birds.
- Watch it with the coffee. It can be a crutch to motivate me. Not so bad if I have to choose one but, too liberal of a hand, and I’m too wound-up to be any good to anyone.
- Have someone pray for me. Preferably in person, laying on hands, but I’ve been known to ask for and give prayer via phone, text and email.
- Listen to a song like this one over and over again to be reminded I’m not alone. Plus, it’s nice someone can articulate how I feel even better than me. (One less thing to do).
Finally, when I’m stressed and over-scheduled, I depend even more on time set aside with the Lord. As the noise of life gets louder and I feel more crowded, I need a counter-balance of quiet and open space. Spending time with the Holy Spirit is kinda like dabbing concealer under my eyes in the morning. Without it, I’m barely presentable.
Soon I’ll be back to The Power of a Voice series. I just wanted to write about this because…well, I needed it. Blessings on you and yours this week.
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