The holidays are here! If you are anything like me, it might be a bit chaotic! After all, we are trying to fit so much in during a shortened period of time. That crunch can cause not just an impact in our schedule but also one in our spirit and one that usually manifests itself as STRESS!
Why do we have this stress? Well, there are a few reasons and I think one of the best ways to help fight it is to first identify the causes:
1) Strained relationships
Whether you are getting ready to spend time with family or friends, or your heart WANTS to spend time with them and you aren't, these strains are sad for our souls. They weigh over your heart and many times, this manifests as stress.
2) Financial woes
There are lots of ways we are asked to give this season or need to spend. Granted, many times it's because I want to, but whether its your heart to do so or not, if you aren't in a good financial spot, coming up with funds right now will cause undue pressure in your life.
3) Poor health stewardship
If you aren't already in a consistent exercise and good eating program, then the holidays definitely aren't a time you are looking to start one up! But let's not forget that God created us mind, body and soul, so if something is off in that balance, you should feel it! Lack of sleep, eating non-nutritious foods, and not moving our bodies will most definitely contribute to stress!
4.) Being "out of step" with God
God wants us to keep our lives free of sin and constantly connected to Him. If you have forsaken your time with Him every day and are cherishing sin in your heart, you will feel stressed! Sure, you may think it's because of another situation, but I've found many times that my stress is rooted out of being out of step with Him.
"OK Clare, great. You nailed me on a few. So how on earth can I manage this huge stress ball in my life? I hit a few of these categories!" I'm so glad you asked! Because I, too, struggle with some of these, I have a few tips that have helped manage, if not remove my stress!
1) Daily time with the Lord.
Everything stems from my heart. Everything. From the way I spend money, how I talk to the person in my life that gets on my nerves, to what I eat, to how I serve others. If I just walk into stress-fighting 101 without first addressing the root of the issue, then its just behavior modification and won't last long. God's word transforms my heart and mind and His Spirit convicts me. I must read His Word and pray every single day--and all through the day, so that I stay connected to the vine. Try plans such as She Reads Truth, Good Morning Girls, or Proverbs 31 Ministries if you are looking for a few!
2) Setting and then abiding by healthy boundaries with food, exercise and sleep
I'm sure you think this is a no-brainer coming from a health blogger such as myself, but truly, it should come from anyone talking about a stress-free life! God created our bodies--not a personal trainer, so He set us up to have the hormones, energy, muscles, and heart that it does! He knows that whole, nutritious foods, moving our bodies, and 7-9 hours of sleep is what we need to keep ticking. Let's not get complicated here, folks. You don't need a full meal plan or 7 days a week of exercise. Keep it simple! Stop looking at the scale and move, eat, and sleep so that you have more energy and endurance to serve those around you and keep a clear MIND. Check out the meal plans on this site and you can always find real-life inspiration on my blog for exercise and eating!
3) Practicing daily gratitude
I've found that if look at our financial situation, resources or people in abundance as opposed to what I don't have, my stress level is much better. I am not trying to "keep up with the Jones'" or deal with un-met desires which all contribute to a stressful mindset! Keep a daily journal and write out what you are thankful for and make it a practice for the whole family!
4.) Keeping a short account with God and others
My very wise Bible study teacher would always say to keep a short account with God and others, meaning that we must manage a very small entry of offenses, hurts, and questions with people and situations. I've really tried to practice this in my life more and more so every time I am offended, hurt, or scared, after praying about it and being clear of my issue, I take care of it either with God or the other person. That will in no doubt, keep stress away.
5.) Making your "yes" count
In her book, "The Best Yes", Lysa Terkeurst says this,
"A women who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul."
I'm sure you've heard it often but for every "yes" you make, you are saying"no" to something else. We need to be mindful of this all year round, but in particular during the holiday season when there are so many ways for us to help but when our hearts perhaps maybe need to be at rest just a little more.
So these are my stress-busters and I would love to hear some ways that you manage or kill your stress during the season! Don't let Satan steal, kill and destroy you and your family by using stress. He will most certainly try to, so get ready to battle!