Photo Credit: Annie Spratt- Unsplash
Often we add unnecessary stress to our lives by creating unrealistic expectations for ourselves, or even worse, we try to live up to others or society’s expectations. This can create havoc in our relationships and create anxiety, depression, and other mental and physical complications. When we think about stress, we often focus on the short- term solutions to help us manage the symptoms of stress, but less frequently do we evaluate the root of our stress and take an inventory regarding what we can change in our life to reduce or even eliminate that stress.
So, why not?
It sounds simple, but as we all know, change can be hard.
We are hard-wired for comfort. Even when we realize that our comfortable patterns aren’t healthy, we can still be resistant to change. Change takes accountability and commitment on our part that sometimes seems unappealing. Where do you begin? You can start by asking yourself some of these questions, such as-
“What do I say I value in life?”
“Does how I spend my time reflect those values?”
“What kind of person do I want to be?”
“Is there something I need to change to become that person?”
These are difficult questions that probably won’t be easy to answer. They may provoke unwanted feelings at first, but that is okay, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Give yourself grace as you process these feelings and as you work towards your answers. As you evaluate your answers, pay attention that they don’t reflect what you feel others want from you, be true to yourself.
Some things that have helped me simplify my life and reduce and eliminate stress, is to organize my life intentions into categories and within those categories, creating two sections- short and long term goals. My categories include my relationships, my spiritual life, my career, my financial goals and my personal goals. Being able to say “yes” to my goals meant I needed to get more comfortable saying “no” to many other things.
This was difficult at first, because I hate disappointing others. Throughout the process, I have discovered that by saying “no” to some things, means that I am saying “yes” to what is going to help me grow in one of these areas, which can only help me be a better person in the long run. What does this look like on a micro level?
It simply involves creating boundaries around our time, and asking ourselves some tough questions,
“Am I choosing to busy myself to avoid things that are painful or am I choosing to distract myself as a coping mechanism? “
I can admit that as I initially walked through grief, that was what I did. Instead of slowing down to process my grief, it was easier to distract from it. I learned that eventually this was not the answer and stepping into my grief was my path to healing. There isn’t a one size fits all solution to living intentionally and it is a process, however, analyzing the root of your stress is essential to change. Of course, it is also important to incorporate as many stress-reducing activities into your day as possible as well. I have found art, yoga and prayer to be the most powerful de-stressors in my life. Do whatever feels good to you- walk, run, read, hike, bike, knit, hunt, fish, travel…the sky is the limit.
If you find yourself stuck in stress, you don’t have to stay there. We are here to help.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257