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Handling Stress and Overwhelm

LIFE is a four-lettered word that is so much bigger than the simple textbook definition. Life is filled with the good, the bad and the ugly, joys and celebrations and loss and heartbreaks, hope and disappointments. In life, if we do not handle or process these stresses well, they can build up over time. They will build up like a dam and eventually breach the banks and burst over everyone and everything in their path. The devastation that causes to relationships is sometimes irreparable. We must learn strategies to cope with these stresses and overwhelm before they get to this point.

These are some of the ways that I deal with stress and overwhelm in my life.  

  1. LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Be present and live each moment in life fully. Do not worry about what will happen in the next hour, day, week, month, or year. Thinking about those things will rob you of the joy in the moments right in front of you. Even in difficult moments find reasons for joy or contentment. My parents have struggled with their health for a long time and most recently my dad’s diagnosis is now terminal unless God does a miracle. Instead of focusing on the possibility of us losing him, I am living each moment the best that I can. I have chosen to fully embrace each moment I have left with my dad. I want to hear what is on his heart and share mine, I want to reminisce and remember all the joys we have experienced. Our life was not always like this. My childhood was hard, but I have realized my dad was just like me, a person with wounds and issues that needed to be healed. Our relationship is much different now and I am savoring every moment I have left with him. Living each moment to the fullest and finding the greatest amount of joy that I can. Maybe for you, your finances have taken a hit, and you feel overwhelmed with all the things that you can’t do anymore. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or can’t get embrace these moments with the ones you love and choose to spend time doing activities that don’t require a penny. You will discover amazing things that you would have never been able to have you never struggled with finances. Find joy in being resourceful and creative. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And most of all trust God with the details of your life. When we have faced financial shortfall, I have committed my needs to God and he has provided in some of the most amazing ways. Allow God to provide for you in these times.

  2. SMILE. Have you ever heard the saying that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile? I have, and I have often argued that it’s not possible because when I choose to smile for long periods my cheek muscles hurt. The reason that happens is that we do not use them as often as we should, so they are getting a workout. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I will just choose to smile, regardless of what is going on inside of me. Joy is contagious and when I smile at others even when my internal world is crashing down on me, they smile back, sometimes our connection even ends up in laughter. What happens, as a result, is my brain releases endorphins that help me process and cope with the struggles I face in a more manageable way. Try it you will be surprised how choosing to smile will change everything. Choose to laugh and find joy even in the hard things.  

  3. SLEEP. When I get so overwhelmed that I feel like I am a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle or like my brain has short-circuited, I have learned that I need to REST. I will cancel all my appointments, make the necessary arrangements for my children or other commitments and go straight to bed. Sometimes I sleep only a couple of hours other times I sleep until the next day. Every time I do this, I wake up refreshed and able to process the stresses and overwhelm easily. The problems haven’t changed but my ability to handle them has. You do not need to explain why you need to reschedule, just let them know something has come up and you will need to reschedule the appointment. Rest is one of the best things you can do when you are feeling at the end of yourself. Permit yourself to REST.

  4. KINDNESS. Doing kind things for others. When I am going through difficulty, I look for opportunities to help others, offer a word of encouragement, and send a text letting someone know that I am thinking about them. Random acts of kindness help me to not focus on my difficulties but help lighten the load for others. I always feel better after doing random acts of kindness for others. And in every circumstance, I see how my simple actions have given them hope for their own overwhelm. I am sowing a seed in the ground that will bear fruit.

  5. VENTING. There are other times when things come up suddenly and build upon one another with what feels like no reprieve. Giving me no time to process them or move through them. In these moments I have one person who I trust that I can vent to. I can share all my fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, and disappointment and they know to not take anything I say personally. As I let it all out, I always feel better, I am no longer holding it all in and I can look at those things more objectively. I can also start to see things from other people's perspectives and not be driven by my anger and frustration. Venting to someone you trust will always be better than keeping it inside. If you choose to keep it inside it will eventually burst open and cause harm to whoever you end up unleashing on. Sometimes I have no one available to talk to so I go on a walk and vent all my anger and frustration out loud, I communicate to God. He can handle all the thoughts and emotions I have. He can give me his perspective and give me peace in even the most difficult circumstances.      

How do you manage the stresses and overwhelm of life?

Do you let it build up until the dam opens and causes lasting damage, or do you process it as it comes?

The strategies I share above work. I use them often and this is one of the reasons why even though a lot of negative things happen in my life I mostly live in a peaceful mindset. Knowing that God can take care of even the craziest things in my life. God has told us to not worry about tomorrow or what is to come, trust him and he will direct our steps, rely on him for all we need and have joy and thankfulness as we present our needs to him.

I hope that over this next month as you feel overwhelmed you will put into practice some of these strategies and see the benefits that come from them.

A life of PEACE.

If you need support and want mentors to walk alongside you contact us and we will get you connected to a mentor who can help you process the struggles of life.

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