How to Reduce Stress

I have this sneaking suspicion that the title caught your attention. Am I right?

If I’m right and the title caught your attention, then you must be feeling stressed right now. Overwhelmed. Anxious. And here’s what I’m NOT going to do. I’m not going to throw out some well placed verses from the Bible that tell you to stop being that way. Cause I’m tired of that, too.

I am going to sit with a cup of coffee and just write down some of the thoughts that have been going through my mind today. When I spent some time in prayer, I kind of poured out my heart to God this morning. I feel on the edge of burnout, which in my job can have such negative repercussions  Hello. Have you met burned out social workers? They’re not so social and usually aren’t that nice.

I am very worried about becoming a “letter of the law” follower and not so much a “spirit of the law” follower. I believe each has two different outcomes. So, for a while this morning, I just sat in quiet. Well, as quiet as one can be with a demanding baby kitty in the room.

My mind started wandering to the old Sunday School lessons I learned about the Genesis account of the beginning of the Earth. In that account, God created a lovely, perfect world and placed a couple of people there. These people were given the task of going forth and multiplying. That’s it. In a perfect garden, enjoying each other and the creation around them.

Of course, that isn’t the end of the story, and it seems that we humans have done a pretty good job of screwing up perfection. I can’t live in the Garden of Eden; I have to live in the world I’ve been given. And that world includes seeing and hearing very ugly things. That world is filled with packed calendars and very high expectations.

I’m pretty sure it’s vital to have Garden time regularly. I shouldn’t wait until I am at the brink of burn out before I take some time to recoup. What if I figured out a way to just be alone with my thoughts and focus on my God a few minutes throughout the day. What would that do?

What would your Garden time look like? For me, I desperately need uninterrupted time to let my brain just be. No planned readings, nobody interrupting my thoughts. Just being free to wander to and fro. During that time, I am usually crafting, or doing dishes, or laundry, or just sitting. Sometimes I am actually in my garden pulling weeds, digging holes or planting flowers.

Fill up time. Garden time. Sabbath.

Lovely.

What If?

It occurred to me  as I’ve been trying desperately to wake up this rainy morning, that perhaps if I paid more attention during the day, God wouldn’t have to wake me up to give me the answers to the questions I’ve been asking.

Yesterday I was wrestling a bit with some dilemmas related to my job. I often wrestle with work related things. Last night, though, I woke up and I had a plan. Amazing. It makes sense, it’s exactly what needs to happen, and I know this is the direction I need to take.

Trouble is. I’m tired today.

What if:

  • I turned the volume of my life down during the day?
  • I dedicated a portion of my day to quiet?
  • Instead of the radio, I tuned in to God?
Lord, You have my attention.

Fasting and Prayer Week One

When I started this journey last week, a couple of the goals of going public with this usually very intimate and quiet subject was to 1) keep myself accountable and 2) do a little educating about fasting by sharing what I am experiencing. If you joined me in this fast, or if you are a frequent faster, please feel free to comment on issues you have dealt with during your journey. Or, maybe you are struggling and could use encouragement, go ahead a place a comment!

So, this past week actually went by fairly fast. I have mostly stayed with water, but I have added vitamin water, life water or broth once in a while – especially when I am going to be driving. Nothing with calories, but with some added vitamins and minerals. I think that’s important when I need to be alert.

There are some interesting things that have been happening to my body during the last week. It’s been a little hard at times…sometimes my stomach hurts. I also noticed that the emotional eating urges have been probably the most difficult to ignore, though and quite honestly these urges are the ones I need the most help from God on. As part of the whole bringing-my-body-under-submission-thing, I will need to pay attention. Some of the things I have experienced this past week I think are pretty common for anyone fasting. There are the headaches, stomach aches and fatigue. It’s real stuff. That’s why I think it’s really important that when planning a fast it’s important to plan for some down time. Focusing on God is hard to do in the noisy everyday life-stuff, anyway, so two birds and all that.

There’s also some nasty, nasty stuff and not completely knowing my audience, I’ll be careful…but bathroom habits almost gross me out. Just sayin.

Spiritually, I like what is happening. Practicing focusing on God is just that. It takes practice. Lots of practice. We have so much in our world that just keeps us away from being in His presence. When I feel the headaches, the tummy aches and the fatigue, I am trying to use those yucky things to remind me to spend a bit of time in prayer. Do you know how much differently a day goes when you’re praying every few minutes?? It’s really incredible.

I’ve been reminded of our fascination with personal comfort. I think we are obsessed with it, actually. If I am a tad bit hungry, or nervous or sad or overwhelmed, I reach for food. Others reach for other things. When  tired, I want sleep. I don’t really want to push through it that much. I think God is teaching me that I need to focus on Him before I try the immediate gratification avenue. Happy-making stuff, I think.

Theme words this week: Purify and Focus.

Fasting and Prayer

The past Lenten season, which is when people normally think of fasting, I fasted from Facebook and from bad language – and I’m not talking grammar! 😉 My life as a social worker has had quite an impact on me, especially my mouth. I did not like the person I had become in more ways than one.

I wanted to become more God-focused and less me-focused.

Several years ago, I completed a 40 day fast. A call came out on email for Christians to fast in unity, and after great consideration, I felt compelled to join them. I had fasted before, but only for a day here and there, so I spend time preparing and learning about fasting. The purpose of that fast was to pray for our country and our leaders by name every day. Boy, did I learn a lot!

I also added some of my own purposes to the fast. I needed direction in my life. It was an incredible experience.

I read a lot prior to my fast and even during my fast, but the one that stuck out most to me was from Bill Bright, the Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. (http://www.ccci.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting/index.htm)

Yesterday, I began another fasting journey. I will be blogging about that journey here over the next few weeks. If you would like to join me, give me a HOLLA! I’d love to be a part of a band of believers fasting and praying together.

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