The Simplified Series | Stress

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Hey you. You lovely thing, you.

Stop.

Right now.

You.

Yeah, you.

STOP. Things are about to get really good, and I don’t want you to miss it.

Can I ask you to do something? Go grab yourself some paper, a pen, a great smelling candle, and a mug of tea or coffee…and go be by yourself.

I’ll wait.

Ok, here’s what I want you do to. I want you to breathe. Deep, stretch-them-lungs breaths. Inhale and exhale and feel the marvelous sensation known as living. Do that for a while, will you? Just breathe.

Light your candle. Take a sip of your tea.

Stress sucks the life out of us. Our frantic pace can feel like a race on the hamster wheel of life sometimes, you know? We’re running and running but it feels like we’re never getting anywhere. We’ve overloaded ourselves for a multitude of reasons…people-pleasing, efforts to bolster our self-esteem (guilty), worry, the proverbial “keeping up with the Joneses” and having too many irons in the fire.

Stress is also ridiculously NOT healthy for you. Our bodies are designed to handle short periods of stress: for example, “Oh crap! There’s a bear chasing me! I should probably run REALLY REALLY fast!”, but not months and years of it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you can handle something “right now” means that you will be able to handle it over a sustained period of time. Stress will wear you down mentally, emotionally, and physically unless you handle it properly.

God has some things to say about stress, because He knows that we have a lot of it.

Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Philippians 4:6
…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Matthew 6:27
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

As I said in the post about Simplifying your Schedule, “Matthew 11:30 tells us that His burden is easy and His yoke is light. If you’re overcommitted, you might be taking on more than He intended.” I believe that God calls us to specific things and that we should pursue His glory in those things with everything that we are. I think we should sweat it out, we should be broken, we should be “pressed but not crushed” and we should run our race with endurance.

I also think that most of our stress comes when we do more than God has asked of us.

So. Let’s get down to business, shall we? This is going to be a bit more hands-on than other posts in The Simplified Series, because you’re the only one who can simplify your own stress. My heart is to help you do it. So grab your pen and paper, and keep reading, sweet friend.

1. Write down your “irons in the fire”. What are the things you’re committed to? The things you’re involved in? The organizations that you’re a member of and the meetings you attend? What relationships are you invested in? What are the things that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has called you to? List them out.

2. What stresses you out? There’s probably going to be some overlap between this and #1. That’s ok. This might include things like “Facebook”, “My relationship with _________”, “not getting enough sleep”, “clutter”, “thinking about ________”.

3. Look at your lists. What things do you not have control over? You might not have control over how that person at work treats you, the weather (currently, Kansas is stressing me out because it keeps teasing me with Spring and then being like “Haha! Just kidding, here’s some snow, ya fool!”), or the fact that somebody keeps asking you to do things. But…

4. What can you choose to control? You do have control over your attitude, for starters. I struggle with this, because my tendency is to react like a firecracker instead of having a good attitude. However…

You can choose to be nice to the person at work…maybe even pray for them.
You can choose to buy flowers even though it’s snowing outside.
You can choose to say no when people ask you to do things. (Really. I promise.)
You can choose to log off of Facebook for the day, the week, or even a whole month.
You can choose to quit the nine zillion committees you’re a part of. (It humbled me to realize that all those organizations will do just fine without me)
You can choose to put some boundaries on unhealthy relationships.
You can choose to eliminate the things that stress you out.

Maybe no one has ever told you this before, but it really is your choice. Write down what choices you want to make.

5. Manage the stress you can’t cut out. Being a college student stresses me out sometimes. I can’t cut that out, though…but I can manage my time better and stay organized. My marriage stresses me out sometimes, but I will never cut it out of my life. Instead, I can choose to talk things out with my husband and serve him joyfully even when I don’t feel like it. Even if something in your life is stressful, you do have control over that stress and how you choose to handle it. And finally…

6. Take care of yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s smart. Check out my post on the Basics of Self Care and figure out what’s good for your soul, and write out some ideas on how to take care of yourself this week.

Friends, thank you for sticking with me through this series. If you haven’t already, enter the Pearl Necklace Giveaway! I changed the rules a little bit, because I’m new at this whole thing and I apparently didn’t know quite how to do a Giveaway 😉

What would your life look like if you had absolutely no stress?

Other Articles in The Simplified Series
Closet | Relationships | How to Create a Simple, Hardworking Wardrobe | Stuff | Stress | Home | The Peaceful Home | Food | Schedule | Resources | Welcome!

Under Grace,
Rachel

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P.S. – The image is from when I was choosing paint colors for our house, which was probably more stressful for Hans than it was for me.

11 thoughts on “The Simplified Series | Stress

  1. Love #4 about making good choices over the things we really can control.
    Such good reminders. I am just seeing that life is so much about the order of priorities we live by!
    Thanks for writing on such an applicable topic Rachel! It’s really great!
    And- 2 more things that have nothing to do with this post:
    1. Made green smoothie packs for the freezer tonight as date night with my man! and….it made me think of you!

    2. We watched the entire first season of Downton Abbey last week! And- I thought of you then too!
    🙂

    • Thank you, Amy!! I’m glad this is encouraging you…really, really glad!!

      1. YAY! Let me know how they turn out!! Hans still won’t try a kale smoothie. It’s literally a goal of mine in our marriage to get him to try one before either of us dies.

      2. DOUBLE YAY! Oh my goodness, did you love it or did you love it?! Hans and I love us some Downton Abbey. What did Adam think of it?

      Also, why don’t you live in Kansas so we can be friends in real life?

      • The green smoothies were awesome! Thanks for your insight on making them! It was super helpful! 🙂

        We LOVED it. Second season coming up soon! We are on a list to borrow it….but for real- it’s a cliff hanger!

        I know….for real- I would love a coffee date with you girl!

        • I’m happy to be of assistance! How did you do the freezer packs?

          Who is your favorite DA character so far?? The first season is the one I like the best, but SO MUCH happens in season 2!!

          Yes. Why must the great expanse known as Canada keep this from happening?

  2. Thanks for this. I was feeling super stressed about tile and paint colors and finding time to get everything done.

    Love you Rachel!

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  4. this is such a GREAT post! thank you for writing this! i have had so much stress in my life this past year with marriage, new job, new church plant, etc. this exercise of writing things out & seeing what i control was SO helpful!! 🙂

    • Hey Robyn!! Thank you for coming by!

      Yay! I’m thrilled that this exercise could help you. Life transitions definitely bring a lot of stress…I hear you! I can’t even imagine trying to do a church plant on top of marriage! Hopefully you can cut out some of the unnecessary stresses in order to focus on the important things!

  5. Oh my gosh, I am so excited to do this! This is perfect timing for me. Tomorrow I am going on a day retreat to a state park to just have quiet time with God and pray about HIS vision for my life. Can’t wait to set myself up on a positive note. Thank you!!

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