I was stressing out. How could I tell? (I can’t always.) Well, you know how the girls in the movies will buy ice cream and just sit down and eat it straight out of the container? Yeah, that happens in real life sometimes, too.
I had too much on my plate, and there was literally nothing that I could take off. People were depending on me for this, it took so many hours for that unavoidable thing, I couldn’t stay up late to finish that because I had to wake up early for work, and so on.
Admittedly, I wasn’t managing my time brilliantly. There were many times I scrolled social media or played a mindless game on my phone and made the excuse of “I’m taking a break” or “I’m resting.” I dawdled with this and then was rushed with that.
Even though that was a main cause of the stress, it was also caused by the stress. I shut down when I’m stressed. I have a hard time making myself do anything productive. Thus the mis-managed time. I felt like I was fighting just to keep my head above the water, but I was flailing around in circles and not making any progress towards the shore.
I was fighting the overwhelm. I didn’t want to feel like this, I knew it wasn’t the best place to be, and I didn’t want to just throw up my hands and give in to the feelings. But they kept pressing in on me, and some days I felt like I was a sort of mechanical creature, robotically going through my routines. I was making overly detailed to do lists just so I could check some things off and feel like I’d accomplished something.
But somehow, I got through it. There’s always one worst week for me, and it passed. Life shifted to a more pleasant pace, and I finally felt like I could breathe again. Looking back now, I recognize some things that I did that helped me get through… and realize that I could have done some things differently, and better.
I did what I knew to do
I hate to admit it, but my relationship with Jesus often gets pushed to the back burner in the busyness of life. Often unintentionally (“I’ll have more time for devotions later”), but you can be unintentional too often sometimes. I had already been going through a pretty dry season spiritually before this overwhelm hit, and I didn’t want to stay there.
Small steps are always better than none at all. I tried to spend at least a few minutes of time with God every day, and I tried to make it purposeful. I didn’t always succeed, but at least I tried. And slowly, slowly He has been helping me out of that place.
By the way, even though this season of overwhelm was several weeks ago now, I’m still working on these steps, especially this one. I still tend to push aside the spiritual things for the “more immediately pressing” busyness.
Let me just stop and challenge you (and me!) here: NOTHING is more important or more pressing than your relationship with Jesus. He should be preeminent in our lives, and not just a priority. Which means that we need to seek Him and include Him in every single area, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. It’s not just reading your Bible first thing in the morning (although that is important and helpful). It’s living in a continual state of consciousness of God’s presence in your life. He is always there, so we should live like it.
“O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:1-5)
I did what I had to do
Sometimes, even though it feels like the thing we want to avoid the most, we just have to tackle the unavoidable thing and get it done with. “Eat the frog first,” as some people say. Well, I did. I had a lot of ice cream and coffee and chocolate along with that frog, but I ate it. 😉 There was one main thing that was stressing me out, and I knew that if I would just get that over with, then everything else would start moving along in a smoother fashion.
You know what? I was actually right. (Shockers!) Once that project was completed, everything else suddenly seemed pretty easy.
I did what I could do
These days, I’m always looking for little ways to make life a little more hygge. Oftentimes, it’s while I’m working. I know multitasking isn’t always the best for your productivity, but sometimes my hands take a break when my brain is working, and sometimes my brain takes a break while my hands are working. And that actually is pretty restful for me. Everyone is different, so find out what floats your boat and do that.
Since I started appreciating the little blessings in life, I have been much happier and a bit saner. ;P Wrapping my hands around a warm mug of coffee. Lighting a candle and putting on soft background music (even while cleaning my room). Reading a classic book which makes me feel like I’m eating comfort food, but just in book form. Watching a nostalgic old movie or TV show while I’m crocheting. Cuddling a nephew or spinning an empty milk jug on the floor to make him laugh.
Do what you can to make life a little cozier, a little less stressful, and “[be] content with your life – all the complicated, messy layers of it – and [be] brave enough to choose to take joy in it.” (Click that quote to read the guest post that also shares five simple tips for instant hygge even in the midst of chaos and overwhelm!)
It doesn’t have to be picture-perfect. It just has to ease your mind and soul to help you escape from the overwhelm for a little bit. Choose to find the simple joys of life and embrace the little moments.
Purpose in your heart to seek God first (Matthew 6:33), and to include Him in every area of your life. This can be practiced in your private, personal devotions, but also in some very practical ways. Put up a paper in the corner of your mirror with a Bible verse or two on it and work on memorizing it while you get ready for the day. Write an inspirational quote across the bottom of your to-do list. Read a good, Biblically solid Christian non-fiction book. Find a friend to do a Bible study with or to keep you accountable for your personal quiet times. Spend time with brothers and sisters in Christ who will encourage you in your walk with the Lord. Pray about the overwhelm you’re facing and ask for strength to get through it in a way that glorifies Christ.
Eat the frog. If you need to, write a list of everything that’s overwhelming you. I understand that some overwhelming things aren’t tasks that you can complete and mark off a checklist. But I’m talking about the tangible, “this is an item on my to-do list that I have to do and don’t want to do” things right now. If you need to, break it down into bite size pieces. (How do you eat an elephant, or in this case frog? One bite at a time.)
Find joy in the simple things of life. Make some coffee. Light a candle. Open a window. Play a game with your family. And don’t forget to look for the not-so-obvious moments of hygge. Even tiny things like cleaning sticky fingers and faces after a (messy) snack or meal. Try to find a little bit of joy in even the most mundane, everyday tasks. There’s almost always a silver lining.
Life is messy. It gets overwhelming sometimes. We slip and fall, we mess up, and we cry. You know what? It’s okay. It’s natural. But it doesn’t have to defeat you. God can give you the grace to push through. It may not be as perfect as you would like, but the life God has given you is beautiful. And it is worth living well.
Until next time,
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