Today I am having one of those days when I am stressed about everything. Ok ... I am having a few days of stress! Taking a look at my calendar I narrowed it down to two factors: finances and how I cannot get to the gym.
I am sure that you may have a similar issue every now and again. You become really stressed and it affects how your mood in such away that you feel like you just can't get anything done today. The root of this is worry (insert your favorite, or often heard, Scriptures about not worrying here ...). I can read about how not to worry all day long, but I still worry. I need practical helps to get me through, so I hope these help you:
1. Make space
If you often worry, then you know that you are going to spend half the day wasting time going to and fro in your house doing little things - things that you just do because you need to feel like you are doing something. The "make space" idea is to realize that since your going to waste time anyway, turn that time into some productive thinking.
Sit down at a table somewhere and get out your planner (calendar), or get a sheet of paper because you're going to make a list. I avoided making lists and organizing my thoughts for a long time but trust me it helps. You can organize your thoughts any number of ways but the planner (calendar) works for me. The first thing I do is put down when the bills are due and when my wife and I get paid. Right off the bat I can see when I am actually going to have money (you know, that one moment you get paid before it all goes away - anyone have $120k they want to donate?!). But at least I know when those things need to be in.
I do the same thing for tasks and meetings.
What this does for me, is shows me what I can now prioritize for today, and I know what I can actually get done today. Admittedly I do stress about thing still but I am beginning to get an idea of what I can start "checking off."
I have this as step two because you can't really prioritize in a practical way until you get your schedule figured out. Now that I have my schedule figured out, I now know when I can do the things I really want to do - like figuring out when I can actually go to the gym. This week I am finding that in order to get things done, I just can't go to the gym. But I can do things at home. Doing things at home is outside of my 'routine,' and that is causing me stress. The gym is a priority for me, and it's high on the list. But in terms of need, going to the gym is NOT high on the need list.
3. Decide what is a need and what is a priority
This may seem strange because some of you may think that prioritize are needs. In my mind they are not. I attach some pretty high emotions to priorities, and that is what causes me some undue stress. Thank God for bringing me to that realization! When I look at my task list (now that I know when the bills will be paid) I look at what actually needs to get done. The gym does not need to get done when the task list is long. But it still is a priority. So here I need to re-frame that thought.
The gym is a priority for me. No. EXERCISE is a priority for me. EXERCISE can take various forms. It is ok to workout at home.
I know, that looks kinda dumb, but for my brain it works and makes me feel better! Also, I can do a home workout in such a way that I get a good workout in where I do feel like I have accomplished something good for my body - not just did something. The home workout is also much shorter than a gym workout would be (minutes verses an hour or two).
4. Organize your day
Now that your thoughts are out on paper and out of your brain, you can literally see what you have to do. If you use a planner, you can see when you'll have time to get things done. So block out your needs/tasks and priorities for one week with realistic goals. Think about how long things actually take you, and include some time for recouping or rest. Don't give yourself too much in a day because you know all that is going to do is stress you out!
After you organize your day get to it! Don't sit there and start thinking about everything all at once again because that will cause the downward spiral into worry. You have all the information in front of you now, and you can get started on the things that you need to do. After you get those things done, you will find that some of your priorities will be accomplished too - like a secondary muscle.
Now I feel like I can drop a Scripture quote where it will be a little more meaningful: Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Interestingly, this verse in context has to do with financial peace ... God used to be a priority for me, and now God is a need for me. Seek God first, everything else will eventually fall into place. When you make your list, but God first at the top, and God last at the bottom; that way you can see that God has everything under His control, which leads me to my very last point -
5. Give it all to God
After you do your lists and get your head right, stop and pray. We are stressing about things from our own perspective, but we still need God's. So pray for His Eternal perspective and be comforted by the fact that God has you in the palm of His hand.
Things will work out.
Some "weekly" musings from Pastor Dave as he sits on his porch and drinks coffee, thinking about theology and lifting heavy weights. For gymsharks, there is something called "Flex Fridays," where we vainly put up photos of ourselves flexing. So this blog is my attempt to flex my theological muscles through reflection ... get it?