How To Handle Prolonged Periods of Stress

Lord willing, my family will move to the area where my husband has been working at the end of May. That will be almost 7 months of our family living apart, making big decisions about relocation, with times of great uncertainties, that comes on the heels of 5 months of unemployment for my husband.

Yes, when we move it will basically be one full year of some form of stress that we have been living in. So I feel qualified to speak to living in stress. I'm not saying I have been a perfect role model, but I can still formulate a complete sentence most days, so I think I'm hanging in there.

We all have it in some form or another. It may be your job, your family situation, a health condition, financial stress... whatever. Society at large today lives with a certain amount of stress at one time or another.

I have found some things to do to lessen the effect that stress has on you and therefore your home.

**Get enough sleep. I'm a huge hypocrite in this regard. I know to do it, but I don't and it colors my entire world. It's a very simple fix: shut the house/ world down on time and get some sleep. If the stress keeps you from sleeping, talk to your doctor about medication for some short-term.

**Get some exercise. Whether exercise is "your thing" or not, going for a short walk can do all manner of things to release stress. When I interviewed a therapist for an article recently, he told me that the chemical that causes us to feel stress can only be released from the body 2 ways: through sweat or through tears. Go sweat it out. Also, the oxygen to the brain allows for clarity and helps problem solve.

**Spend time in The Word. Being reminded of God's control of my situation brings me immense peace. I include prayer time in this. I try to make it a non-negotiable start to my day -- why would I go into battle without being properly armed? Again, some days I fail. And I can tell...

**Extend grace to yourself. I have had to back way out of activities that I normally like to volunteer for and be involved in, because my first priority is maintaining peace in my home. I can't do that when I am scattered to the four winds. Also, allow yourself to collapse and cry every once in a while. No one is asking you to be SuperMom/ SuperDad. Just collapse, cry, head to bed, call it a day, and start over tomorrow. His mercies are new every morning.

**Extend grace to others. I get a LOT of advice, and it may or may not be in line with my family's plans and ideas. I appreciate that people are wanting to help, and Mike Cope one time offered these wise words, "People are bringing you the best they have to offer." However, I confess there are days that I get my fill and I just have to come home and go to bed.

**Maintain order and routine as much as possible. This one is tough when, in my case for instance, there is a disruption in the "order of the house" -- the daddy is gone during the week. It's hard to maintain regular dinner times and bed times for every one, but it makes the rest of the house go so much more smoothly. I recently saw a study that also mentioned that clutter is also a distraction and can have negative effect on your emotions. For this reason, I am thankful our house has been on the market much of this time -- clutter usually defeats me. A clean house truly is peaceful.

**Draw strength from others. This is a 2-parter for me. First, I am sure to seek out people who are encouraging and speak faith into my situation. Sometimes it's in a face-to-face situation, sometimes it's virtually (Facebook, Twitter, blogs that I read). I also limit myself to people who are demanding of my energy and efforts. Yes, it's selfish, but as God gives me strength, later I will be called to ministry. Now, my ministry is my family. I realize that for people who work outside of the home, you may be forced to be around energy drains -- but you don't have to absorb it.

**Seek out what makes you laugh. For me, I am blessed that my children are pure and utter delights to me. We truly have a great time at dinner and in the evenings most nights. Don't get me wrong -- they are teens and we have royal irritations and HUGE miscommunications (why does my spell check not recognize that word?). But, for the most part, a LOT of laughter. And? We watch a lot of Pixar. Riley and I have an entire Monsters, Inc. diatribe we go through. Love it.

Times of stress come in waves. Some of them giant, overpowering waves. Some of them constant crashing waves. However it comes at you, it helps to have a plan to get through that time.

Would love to hear from you. What would you add? (I know my dad is going to say: "Get on your motorcycle as much as possible." -- Truth. Do what you love when you can.) What about you?


Lisa Laree said...

Sarah, this is a great post. Thanks so much for reminding me.

Roxanne said...

I think the grace to yourself and grace to others is something that can definitely help during stressful times and is ALSO something we need to adopt on a daily basis. Period. Great post.

Wendy said...

I would add "choose to do things that lift your spirits". For me that includes listening to music, stitching, coffee in the sunshine, making chocolate pudding...

mindy said...

sweat and tears are the only way to get rid of the chemicals that make us feel stress...crazy, interesting, and totally makes sense!

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