What was your first thought this morning?
Part of the answer comes from the load you are carrying and were you able to set it aside so you could have a restful night. The other part of the answer comes from the heaviness of all your loads and how stressed are you by the day that is before you…
What are you waking with? Stress for the day? Worried about what’s next? Is there something good ahead that you can look forward to?
I’ve learned over time that rest time normally gives me answers for the next morning, but it also finds new opportunities I have not yet considered. Rest time is so important. If you cannot cause your brain to shut down, then you will have a restless night.
It’s probably been a quarter of a century since I’ve had a great nights sleep that I can be happy about. Yes. I may sleep all night, but there is a part of my brain that struggles shutting down. I can wake at the same time every morning for weeks, normally about 2:40 am, and struggle getting back to sleep. My mind will not shut down.
Yesterday, while having a checkup with my doc, I asked him about my sleep issues. Now, I know it runs in the family to sleep 5-6 hours and then face the day full steam ahead, but I also know that the older I get the more important good rest has become. In my younger days I could sleep 2-3 hours and then go all day long, but now a 15 minute power nap sounds really good about half-way through the day.
“So, what happened about 25 years ago?” he ponders…Oh, about the time I started pastoring a congregation… “It’s funny, “he replied, “we know God handles all the load and we can cast our cares on him, but it’s surprising how much we struggle with what we know, and what we have to accomplish.” [paraphrased conversation]
Now, isn’t this a great Doctor, or what?!!?
So, we spent some time talking about what stress load I carry, and how it might be unloaded or managed better. Then we talked about getting a handle on the weight issue, and there’s no time like the present to tackle the underlying problem, which he surmised is simply stress. Stress creates weight issues, sleep issues, and blood pressure issues…and a whole host of other problems that will wear you out and make you sick!
How do you handle stress? I’ve joked about it for years, but “stressed” spelled backwards is “dessert“… Not that I need dessert right now! Imagine for a moment the stresses you and I carry, and compare it to the President of the United States! Their load must be a million times harder. It’s not just 300 million people, it’s every corner of the globe! There have been photo shots of them at the start, and end, of their time in office. [Source] Go check it out.
So. Do you have a stress handler routine? How about sharing?
It was a famous person for some of us that gives me a deep thought about stress.
“We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday’s burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.” ~John Newton
Then, add to this thought another deep thinkers thought:
“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” ~David Allen
Now, combine those ideas into this thought… We are loaded down with tasks and it seems like we find them lingering for days, if not weeks and months. Tasks lists become albatrosses around our neck and it is hard to move on because we struggle with finishing the one in our hands. If success is found in finishing what we started to accomplish, then we need to work better at what we are doing. This idea is found in these simple thoughts.
- Narrow your focus.
- Set some boundaries on your world – keep family time, down time, and personal recovery time sacred.
- Manage your time well, and this learned process will protect you from daily struggles.
- Delegate what you can, keep what you must, but do not let there be more tasks than what you can handle.
- Don’t let tasks muddy the waters so that you cannot clearly see the finished line.
- Quit looking back thinking you could have “handled that better” or differently. When the task is finished, move on.
I’ve given this some thought, and will probably adjust this list during the next few weeks. You need to have your own list. What works for me, may not work for you. Regardless, controlling our world is perhaps one of the biggest challenges we face. My world of pastoring is not dealing with “employees”, rather, it’s taking into consideration the “volunteer” that steps up and says, “Let me help.” Immediately, I think of what might be on their plate already, and how can I make sure they do not get overwhelmed like I feel sometimes. Let’s protect their family time. Make sure the spouse is okay with their help. Watch them closely for burn-out. Step in and help them see when they reach the breaking point.
I say this, because I dealt with a time back in the early 80’s when I got too involved in too many activities. I’ve blogged about it enough (and have referenced some of them with links in this blog), but suffice it to say that the day was full of the job, and the evening was full of commitment. Somewhere in between my wife and kids got so little of my time. For about 18 months. Then I crashed and burned, and learned how to say “no”.
But no one said that to me. I had to learn it myself.
Perhaps this is the biggest thing for any of us to learn. If we are not going to take advice from someone who has been there, then we must learn what to do when we slam into that proverbial wall.
And that wall will show up at the most inopportune time.