I have always been a very active person. Ever since I was a teenager, people have told me that “Busy” seems to be my middle name.
After my husband passed away, I started to experience stress. I found myself getting overwhelmed by even small obstacles, and I knew I needed to find strategies to cope with and minimize stress in my life.
The first and hardest step was to slow down and adjust my work to my capacity. I longed to keep going at the same speed as I always had. It wasn’t until I lost my memory for a whole day after a very stressful week that I finally got serious about setting limits to the things I take on and the hours I put in.
Second, I now make a to-do list for each day, right after my morning devotions. After breakfast, I begin tackling the items one by one, and whatever doesn’t get done by the end of the day moves to the next day’s list. This has freed me from a lot of anxiety over what to do next and whether I’m forgetting something.
Third, I focus more on my spiritual life, like reading or listening to the Bible and other inspirational materials daily and listening to uplifting songs as I tidy, cook, or sew. I’ve also committed to fellowshipping with other Christians on weekends.
Fourth, I go to recreational activities more often, like the beach or birthday parties, which help to clear my mind of worries and put things in perspective. When taking the dog for a walk at the end of the day, I thank God for the sunset and the mountains, and all my other blessings, instead of thinking of work, and this has also had a soothing effect on my soul.
Children sure know the secret—they seldom have problems with stress and they always enjoy the moment. They don’t worry about the future, because they know their parents will take care of them. Jesus said that we should be like little children to enter the kingdom of God.1 So in addition to all my other strategies, I try to remind myself daily that my Father will care for me now and forever, and that He wishes for me to enjoy the biggest gift He has given me, life itself.