Being busy is not the same as being stressed. You can be very busy and not stressed or conversely you can be very stressed but not that busy. Stress is not related to how much you have on your plate but how you deal with it.
I am a very busy person. I love being busy and having many projects on the go at the same time. I used to run on stress, feeling like I was always overwhelmed and under pressure and I was making myself sick from it. But I have now learnt that there is a difference between being busy and being stressed. It is possible to very busy and NOT stressed. It is not how much you are doing but how you deal with what you are doing. Now I do more than I did before but have significantly less stress in my life.
Stress comes from feeling like you have no control and can not cope. When you feel like your life is running away from you and you are chasing it, running as fast as you can but you are out of breathe and always behind, never catching up. Stress from unmanageable and unrealistic work loads or expectations or the responsibilities placed on your shoulders that you carry alone and struggle under the weight. Situations that are uncertain or unfamiliar can cause stress too. So how do you regain control of your life?
Firstly realise that no matter the situation, personal or in your work, you have choices. You might not have full control over a situation and you can not control what other people do but you always have control over yourself. You have control over your expectations, your words, your attitude, your thoughts and feelings, your behaviour, what you will accept and put up with, when you say yes and when you say no, your schedule and your priorities. It might not feel like you do, but in reality you have so much more choice that you realise. Stop telling yourself how stressed and overwhelmed you are, instead fill your mind with positive, empowering and encouraging words. Exercise your control, make healthy choices.
Secondly where do you get your strength from? Are you trying to do everything under your own strength? Jesus said
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus has already offered the solution for stress and worry. The exchange Jesus offers is incredible, he will carry your burdens, so you can live light. It does not mean there will not be work to do, you might even be called to do more, but Jesus will carry the weight of it and will provide peace and joy when you work under Jesus. I know that when I work under the strength and guidance of Jesus, my stress and anxiety are lifted and I can cope with far more than my natural abilities and capabilities allow.
Thirdly, what practical things can you do?
- Prayer is the antidote to stress. In prayer, you hand over your burdens, release the things you can not control and ask God to guide you in the areas where you have choices. So many times I have been feeling stressed about a problem I can not find the answer too and then remember to take it to God in prayer and immediately the answer pops into my head or I get a call or email with the solution. God cares about our worries and wants to help, we just need to seek Him.
- Ask for help. We are not designed to do life alone and we can not cope by ourselves. We need each other and we need to ask for help. Do not be a martyr and struggle through alone, bring people into your life and let them work with you. It is not failure to need help or to ask for help, we all do at times. Today you need help and tomorrow you help someone else. In community we can achieve so much more than alone.
- Lists, I love lists. Whatever is running through your head and overwhelming you, write it down. Get it out of your head and on to paper so you arrange your day, plan your time and your priorities. Be intentional in spending time on what it important to you. Take control of your time and take control of your life.