There is hope for stress

Why does life feel full of pressure? There’s so much to do, so much to decide. People expect a lot of us and every situation seems potentially disastrous.

The pressures of life can easily add up and feel overwhelming. Even when we’re seeking God, it’s not easy to replace pressure with peace and joy. I add lots of pressure to my life without realizing it. I think I’m following God, but in my cloudy thinking, I am contributing to the pressure.

Of course there are many ideas for diminishing pressure but here are three ideas I’ve found helpful. I hope one or more help you. And then please share below other ideas which have helped you.

1. Downsize!

My mom taught me and my siblings how to clean our rooms every Saturday. And that included washing the sheets! After I had a family of my own, I still washed our sheets every week, even though I felt mounting pressure because of a husband who worked long hours, two toddlers, and trying to serve the Lord.

One day I mentioned to my neighbor Pat about washing the sheets every week. Pat casually said, “Oh really? I wash ours every two weeks.”

Shocked, I replied, “You mean it’s ok to do that?” I realized in that moment I was pressuring myself to do something that wasn’t needed. As I began to ask myself if there were other pressures I was putting on myself unnecessarily, I found others.

What can you eliminate or do less often that will relieve some pressure?

Jesus’ said to Martha when she was trying to make so many dishes for company: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” (Luke 10:41 ESV). Of course we know he meant sitting at his feet like Mary, but maybe he also meant she could “downsize” the meal to include only one dish!

2. Re-read your journal.

Sometimes I’ll read my journal from a year ago or years ago. I’m shocked to see the things I felt worried and pressured about weren’t really that important—in the end. For instance, I wrote about what terrible things might happen if I didn’t do something just “right.” Or about the long range consequences if I made a mistake.

But if I hadn’t rehearsed what happened by reading my journal, I wouldn’t be able to tell you now about those pressure-making circumstances. At the time, they felt monumental but in the end, God worked it out–even when I didn’t pray the right way.

Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to lean on our own understanding. I think we can diminish pressure by not expecting ourselves to know exactly how to pray. Yes, pray! But trust in God’s compassionate grace to know the right way to answer, even if it’s “no.”

3. Abide.

Lately, I’ve concentrated on living in the moment by following Jesus’ command to “abide”: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9 ESV)

For me, that has looked like being alert to God’s leading moment by moment and trusting His love can cover when I misunderstand. It has meant believing, “God will give me enough time and energy to do what He wants me to do as I seek Him.” If something doesn’t get done as I expected and yet I had abided in Him, then that’s what He wanted to happen. I don’t have to feel pressured and beat myself up.

I would love to hear from you! Please comment in the section below which of those three insights could help you to resist pressuring yourself. Or share with my readers what you’ve learned to diminish pressure. We’d all love to hear what has helped you. Let’s chat!