Good morning, friends.
I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a few weeks now. As a side note, tomorrow (February 17th) is my blogiversary! I’ve been writing here for 364 days so far, and what a journey it’s been.
I’m going to try to have a nice post up celebrating that tomorrow, with a survey and such…but we’ll see how it goes.
This year, blogging has made my life busier. I’m more consumed with writing, responding to comments, practicing with graphic design, meeting new people and staying in touch with them…all that crazy fun stuff.
And this is on top of schoolwork (which can drive me up the wall with discouragement at times), editing (which can hassle me with my perfectionism and procrastination), working, practicing music, and trying to take time for me.
Needless to say, my life can get stressful, and mostly for the pressure I put on myself. And my stress can lead to depression and discouragement. The more stressed I get, the less I want to work hard, and the less hard I work, the more stressed I get because nothing’s getting done.
Exasperating system, right?
I’m not going to keep boring you all with my woes, though. I just want to address a flaw that I’ve seen in my own life.
When I’m stressed, I do one of a few things.
I mope or hide.
I listen to music.
I find some book to lose myself in.
I watch YouTube videos (all good ones, mind you) or TV.
Basically, I turn my distractions up to drown out my life.
But when it comes to the end of the TV show, or the song, or the end of the book, and I’m woken back up to reality, I realize that nothing has changed. I haven’t improved my condition; I’ve enhanced it by drawing it out longer. And that is the worst feeling in the world.
When I use distractions – like adding more busyness to my already-hectic life – I’m essentially saying to God, You’re not enough for me. You can’t handle this, I can. My distractions can fix me, and You can’t.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s not the right attitude.
And I know this is wrong. I totally know. I totally know I’m doing myself so much more harm than good. I know, I know, I know. But at some point in my life, that whole “Jesus is enough for me” thing seemed to be just talk, because I didn’t understand how to apply it.
We as Christians can waltz around, saying things like, “All you need is Jesus, and your life will be good.” Or “If you only pray, your situation will improve.” And “God will turn your life from messy to perfect.”
Cliché, right? And yet we say them. I mean, I suppose those first two statements could be stretched to be kind of right, but when we speak them literally, we completely deceive ourselves.
It’s 100% true that Jesus fills that hole in our hearts for meaning.
It’s 100% true that God has everything under control.
It’s 100% true that prayer works.
It’s 100% true that God takes us as we are, messy and sinful, and transforms our lives.
It’s 100% true that He never abandons us.
But He doesn’t give us easy lives.
Prayer isn’t like writing a wish list to Santa Claus or pressing a button on a vending machine.
He doesn’t (normally) speak to us in an audible voice.
He isn’t “magical” or like some genie.
But He does long for us to know Him.
He does speak to us in our hearts.
He does provide for our needs.
He does love us with an everlasting love.
And He can (and does!) heal our souls.
When we have problems, we shouldn’t hide from the God who knows what they’re like.
We shouldn’t try to handle things on our own, because quite frankly, we can’t.
Now, you know I can say all these things, and you can nod your little head, but just talking about something doesn’t help when it comes to practical life.
What should we do when we’re stressed out, depressed, discouraged, lonely, feeling hopeless, anxious, or downcast? What?
Pray. Cry out to God. Accept His strength.
This is our chance to say, “God, I cannot do this on my own, and I need your strength to sustain me.”
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Listen to the truths in the Word of God (aka the Bible). Find refuge in Him, rather than yourself.
“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.”
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”
Okay, prayer and Bible is great…but we know that already. What else can we practically do to take control of our feelings?
While this isn’t necessarily spiritual advice, it’s definitely helped me. For me, prioritizing means making a list (yes, a real list on paper with a pencil) of things I need to get done overall. And then, setting manageable daily goals to accomplish those goals.
If it’s still too overwhelming, I rethink my priorities.
Is there anything I can cut out or take a break from? Is there anything I can change my mind about and say, “I’m sorry, I just can’t do ___ right now?” Is there anything that I can put less time or effort into?
God doesn’t want us to be stressed. He wants us to rest in Him, and not freak out over our messy lives. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to be imperfect. It’s okay to rest.
Build time in for rest.
Rest can take all types of different forms. This may be watching TV, pursuing a hobby, hanging out with friends, or taking time just to chill out and do nothing. This isn’t wrong. It’s good to take time to breathe, and good to take time to do what you love. There is no shame in that.
Take time to rest, take mental breaks, but of course, don’t use those things to disguise real pressure. Deal with the pressure, and additionally, take time to unwind and relax.
Live refreshed. Pressures come, absolutely. But when we can control some of our stress, we should. When we are stressed, we need to turn to God and find the peace that we need. Trust me, it’s there.
Never forget that God is always in control, and stress doesn’t have to be.
16 Replies to “Dealing With Stress: It’s Not As Hard As You Think”
Amanda Joy, you have summed up the human dilemma perfectly. This blog post on your Blogiversary Eve can be offered as a model and pattern for all stressed humans. I am grateful to be your dad and so thankful to see how you do not ignore struggle but are allowing God to use you to bring real experience to the surface and encourage your readers tremendously. You are loved!😁😊
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Oh, thank you so much. That means so much to hear, thank you for your encouragement. I’m glad to be able to address tough issues as opposed to sugarcoating everything and pretending it’s all easy. 😉 Love you!
Amanda; Not only are you a great writer, but you are a wise woman beyond your age. It’s no wonder that so many people I know sing your praises. Being one who writes, I am amazed that you have maintained a daily Blog of this caliber!!! I’m sure it’s because it is off God Himself using you and your skills to minister to others. I’m sure you have a future of great possibilities for His purpose and glory. God Bless and amplify your ministry…
Oh, wow, that is a high compliment! Thank you. 🙂 I haven’t done it every day, just twice a week, but thanks. Praise God that He’s been able to work through me, because I know I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own. Thank you for checking out my blog! It means a lot. God bless!
“The more stressed I get, the less I want to work hard, and the less hard I work, the more stressed I get because nothing’s getting done.” < YES. Ugh. Yes.
The past two weeks have been so much better than the month before that, which was the most stressful month I'd lived through in a while. And you know what helped?
1. Making a general schedule, to give myself something to strive for…to try to meet those times, and to have some framework to look at when I'm not sure what to do next.
2. Prioritizing, like you said. Dealing with one thing at a time.
3. Cutting out distractions and just focusing. I hate to admit I have trouble focusing because I don’t want to get the label of “typical teenager,” but it’s true that I’ve had hard time focusing sometimes, especially during school. And I’ve found that the schedule helps with this as well–because if I know I have only given myself half an hour for math, I’m more motivated to push through it and not check my email or Facebook or something in between every few problems.
These things have really helped, I think. Last week it was amazing how efficiently I got done with school. This week has been a little rougher, but I’m sticking with it. 🙂
Glad to know I’m not the only stressed one alive! 😛
Thanks for that list. Those things really are helpful, and pushing through something hard is definitely worth it, even if it takes a little more effort to stay focused. (I totally understand… I have a huge problem focusing. My energy comes in short bursts!)
So glad it’s working for you! I’m sure you’re doing awesome.
Also, this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnjeMwxFuBA
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I relate to this so much. My brain won’t word very well right now (probably because I’ve been so busy and stressed because I don’t have much writing time, even less reading time, and even less sewing time, and I’m having trouble focusing when I do make the time), but I do want to say that it’s all very true, and I need to do these things to make things better.
Oh boy, you sound so crazy. Your schedule, that is. It’s hard to get into the groove of something, for sure, but it pays off once you do (and you find that you do have time for other things!). Focus is something I need to work on as well. I find that having clear workspaces helps me to think better.
This is so true, Amanda, and it’s very similar for me! Procrastination is such a struggle, but like you said, it only postpones and intensifies the stress, and doesn’t remove it in the least. 🙂 Life can get so crazy, and it’s so hard not to get caught up in all the busyness. But the biggest lesson God has been teaching me for a long time (and that I’ll never stop learning) is how to really truly trust him with everything – which is easy to know you need to do, but so hard to actually put into practice. Because I want to be in control and do everything myself, and I always fall back into thinking I can do it by myself. But I can’t, at all, not even close! It’s only by letting go completely and giving everything to him that I can do anything. And that’s the only way to stop worrying and be free from all the stressful things that I’m not strong enough to carry. 🙂
Anyway, thanks for this reminder, and for these spiritual and practical truths that are so helpful!
Mary, I totally understand what you’re saying! I am totally the same way – I know I should trust God, I know it’s right and best, I know that all I need to do is turn my worries over to Him, but it’s so much easier said than done. What a great reminder. We don’t have to live stressed, we can trust our Lord with our lives, because HE IS BIG ENOUGH TO HANDLE THEM! Thank you for your comment, because even I tend to forget (so easily) that I’m not the one in control, but my God is. And He will never forsake us. 😉
Oh YES! I can totally relate!! I do this homeschool organization co-op called Classical Conversations, and I’m in a Challenge program of theirs! I do get so caught up in homework, Expecially since I play the piano and do many other things that consumes time! Procrastination has just about always been something that I thought of as a refuge…because I knew that I could do it. I knew that I could do a whole week’s homework in one night (usually the night before the due date 😛 ). But it gets really bad, and it because one, horrible, self destructible habit. I realized that I was chained in it, and couldn’t get out! (Even though I hated to admit it! I always thought that if I made up my mind, I could easily overcome it) I LOVE that you pointed out how if we turn to our distractions, we are simply saying that Jesus is not enough. I’ve never really thought of the subject in that way! Recently, I’ve made up my mind to beat procrastination…to make procrastinating an option instead a forced road. Thank you for this post! 🙂
I totally know the feeling and the habit! Life is hard, let’s be honest, and it’s easy to put things off until the last minute (I think we all have done this!). Good for you for fighting against procrastination. We really can do it! We just have to choose to and teach ourselves another way. 😉
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Yes!! Writing a to-do list helps a ton!!