I can fill in that blank with so many things! Stress is a dream-killer. Faith-killer. Patience-killer. Diet-killer. Marriage-killer. Energy-killer. Financial-killer. Health-killer. Sleep-killer. The list could go on and on and on. But the point is, too much stress is not good! A little bit of stress (or pressure) can sometimes help me to perform at my peak. If I know I have a deadline coming for a file, I am very focused in order to get it done before time runs out. But, if I know I have a deadline and more files than I could possibly ever get in on time and fussing kids that need to be fed, put down for a nap, played with, etc., then the stress is too much and it is detrimental. I get flustered, my heart pounds, I sigh a LOT, and I get very short-tempered, and most of the time I miss my deadline and I don’t give my kids the attention they need at that moment. Nothing good comes from too much stress!
I have always been a “stress-eater.” When I am having a tough day, my first instinct is to turn to something sweet. It makes me feel temporarily relieved and rewarded for doing a good job at being (somewhat) patient with life. However, stress eating makes me gain weight and lose self-esteem, which in turn makes me eat more, and so on. It is a vicious cycle. I have been trying really hard to remind myself when I want so badly to grab the bag of peanut M&Ms during stressful moments, that it isn’t really the sugar I am craving. What I am craving is a release from the high amount of stress.
Around here stress is a part of the “norm” of my life and finding time to be alone and rest and de-stress is incredibly challenging! I have found, though, that if I can get the feeling of stress under control before I begin to panic and reach for the sugar or lash out at someone because my temper is so short I can control how much it affects me. The best thing I can do when I am over-stressed is to take a step back, find 5 minutes of alone time and have a conversation with God. If I can rant and rave for 5 minutes and get my feelings off my chest, I feel a lot better. The stress inevitably, of course, comes back, but it does make me feel better to talk it over with Him. Sometimes I have to go 5 times back to back to have a conversation with Him before I feel a difference. Sometimes I need an hour nap and to pray while I am falling asleep. Sometimes I need a drive around the block with all 4 kids immobile and watching the movie on the van TV while I pray. But, whatever it takes I am reminded that he cares. I Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”. He wants to hear from us. He wants us to turn to Him for our comfort (not a bag of M&Ms). He wants to be our shoulder to cry on. He wants to help relieve some of our stress and anxiety.
I have also begun to learn that I have to limit the amounts of stress I cause myself by taking on too much. After all, I am only capable of so much before I begin to break. And, if I don’t get enough sleep, my stress level rises dramatically! I need to learn how to say, “No,” sometimes and I need to make sure I take the time my body and mind need to rest.
I am so glad that God cares for me and helps me in my stressful moments. I can have the power to rise above letting stress kill any parts of my life, but I have to be willing to cast my cares upon him and let him care for me.
Silver lining: Today is not a very high-stress day (for the moment anyway)!