Throughout most of my life, I’ve known I need to learn how to manage stress. While I am aware that I need to take care of myself and my relationships (with God, family, others), I also know there’s lots of room for improvement.
I’ve always said, I do well with vacation time, okay with days off, but not so well with the other six days of the week. Given the nature of our work, it’s easy to be “on” 24/7 (or at least when I’m awake). I like to get an early start, and it’s possible to fill all of the “gaps” with work. There’s certainly nothing wrong with working hard (I can’t imagine not being a hard worker), but gap time (devotion, rest, solitude, family time, etc.) are vitally important to health–and effectiveness–too!
I’ve also always thought I handle stress pretty well, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, but I don’t think my body handles it very well, physically. A week ago Thursday, I experienced some “warning signs” that I’m taking as a wake-up call to learn how to manage stress. (I may say more about this later.)
The following day, I spent some reflective time in prayer, repenting of bad habits and making some new (or renewed) commitments. Here are three primary actions I’m working on …
1. Play more, especially with Ethan and Sarah.
As a parent, there are some things we do well. For example, we’ve been extremely consistent with family devotion time (even when one of us is at a meeting, the other leads this time with the kids). But there are areas in which I don’t do as well. I don’t play enough. Too often, it’s easy to let the kids play together on their own while I fill some gap time with a little more work. Sometimes this is necessary, but other times I simply need to drop everything and play with my kids.
2. Rest more.
Since our jobs are not Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 kinds of jobs, carving out time for rest becomes even more important so that we do not fill all of our days with work. At a minimum, this means taking a break each day to rest, play, and/or take a nap. I’ve always loved Rick Warren’s suggestion of a “daily diversion.” Biblically, this means building in a rhythm of sabbath time.
3. Call a health coach.
Through our health insurance, we have access to a health coaching network, by telephone. In the next few days, I plan to call a health coach to work on stress management (one of the areas they offer help with). (I will likely say more about this later, too).
So, how well do you handle stress? What have you learned along the way? What warning signs have you experienced, indicating you need to make some changes? And, what commitments do you need to make to take better care of yourself and your primary relationships?