My wife and I were moving into our new home. We had moved several times already since being married, and each time, the U-Haul got a little longer and little fuller. We were gifted an older 70-inch TV that took every ounce of strength to carry in by myself. As I lifted the TV and headed toward the front door, my wife didn’t realize I was following her, so I asked her to hold the door. When she didn’t hear me, my request became a demand. And before I realized it, hoping not to drop the heavy TV, I was shouting, “OPEN THE DOOR!”
It’s not just objects like our giant TV that can get heavy. The stresses of life can weigh us down, too. That stress spills over into other areas of life, often causing a negative effect. We can find ourselves with short tempers toward our kids, being less willing to take on a fun activity, or completely checking out from parenting and burying our faces in our cell phones. None of these are proud dad moments, so we need to do our best to be intentional to keep stress at bay. Here are 4 ways to overcome the stresses of life.
1. Set boundaries.
When my son started crawling, we put a baby gate up by the stairs. We would also make sure doors were closed to other rooms we didn’t want him wandering into. It’s easy to see where to set boundaries with an infant. It’s not as easy when you’re an adult. Establishing healthy boundaries for your work-life balance, relationships, time commitments, and other areas will make it easier to say no when something doesn’t fit within those boundaries. Simply put, having boundaries will help eliminate potential stress. It may be hard at first, but this could be one of the most rewarding things you can do for your mental and emotional health.
2. Find mentors.
Seeking guidance from someone who has experienced what you’re going through can help put you on the right path. When my wife and I were first married, our finances were a mess. To make it even more challenging, we both had completely different opinions of what we should do. We enrolled in a finance course, where we learned from people who knew more than we did, and came out of it on the same page with a solid game plan.
Proverbs 11:14 emphasizes the need for mentors, saying, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” Having people in your life who can give wise advice and speak from experience will help spare you the learning curve of figuring things out on your own. Mentors don’t just need to be someone you talk to regularly either. They can be authors, speakers, or professionals in the fields you’re learning more about. Take some time to find people and resources that can help guide and encourage you through the stresses of life. These people have already experienced what you’re going through and can even help prevent you from walking into unnecessary stresses.Instead of sitting back and waiting, be proactive by preparing for what’s coming ahead.
3. Be proactive.
In college, one of my football coaches said, “You can be the bug or the windshield; you choose.” He was making a point that you can hit someone (like the windshield) or you can wait until they hit you (like the bug). Instead of sitting back and waiting, be proactive by preparing for what’s coming ahead. Those mentors we talked about above can help tell you what’s coming, but there’s a good chance you’re already aware of some things on the horizon. By having a plan and thinking about what’s coming your way, there’s a much smaller chance you’ll find yourself stressing out in the moment to make decisions.
4. Lay it down.
Just like my story about carrying the TV, the stress over getting the door opened went away when I was able to set down the TV. Similarly, in life, we need to find ways to set down the things that are heavy. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Often in the morning, I’ll take some time to express gratitude and share my stresses with him. When I begin to feel the weight from the stresses of life, I go to God and invite him to take control of my life. That’s when I begin to feel the weight lifted and experience God’s peace (see Philippians 4:6–7). What do you do with all the stress your life?
Sound off: What helps you overcome the stress in your life?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids as ask, “How do you overcome stress in your life?”