I remember last January when 2014 turned over to 2015 and how I wondered about what the new year would bring. If I’d only known. The first half of the year? Quiet. My life moved in an easy rhythm. The second half? My head is still spinning.
In the span of three months, my cousin took a turn for the worse and passed away from cancer. My workload skyrocketed to the point where burnout approached. My parents made a move from their home of 44 years to a senior living center nearby. Normally, I have a safe place. If work is crazy, home is calm. Or, if home is crazy, work is calm. This time, I had nowhere to run. How did I manage?
I won’t kid you when I say I felt like both sides of my life were crushing me between them. Thanks to this experience, I learned five things that I hope can benefit you when life threatens to crush you.
- Realize. When life presses down upon you, realize that sometimes, you simply don’t have enough hours in the day to balance the new demands with the existing ones. For a period of time, some things will have to be left undone. These past few months, I finally came to understand that it was okay not to keep the checkbook updated weekly or not to clean as often as I preferred. I knew I had to do something. I had to choose.
- Prioritize. If you’re in a really busy period of life, are there organizations you can step away from? Meetings you don’t need to attend? Tasks at work you can delegate? Would it hurt not to keep a pristinely clean house during that time? Consider these questions. I had to pick and choose what I did. I decided to step away from some things for a bit like the women’s organization I belong to. Others, like the tasks at work, couldn’t be delegated since we were so swamped. That’s when I learned how I needed to talk to people.
- Communicate. When I say communicate, I mean two things. First, it’s good to have a couple of friends as well as your spouse or significant other to talk things over with. Unburdening releases stress. But also, we need to apprise people of busy periods. If you plan to step away from activities, let people know at least the basics of why to avoid hurt feelings and potential damage to relationships. At work, I let my boss know what was going on because I knew it might be impacting my work. He understood. I let my friends know what was going on, and I promised that once things calmed down, I’d get together with them. Generally, people understand.
- Manage stress. Make sure to eat right, get as much rest as possible, and exercise. I know. I know. You’re probably thinking, “With what time?” I promise that if you do those things, you’ll feel better. That’s what I’ve tried to do. Since the first part of October, I’ve once more become a gym rat, and it’s done wonders for my stress levels.
- Get into the Word. Sometimes, if you’re a believer, God may be teaching you something through the craziness of life. Maybe He’s showing you how to learn to depend on Him and Him alone. In my situation, I had no safe haven, no place to run to in the form of a happy place. I turned to the Bible. I’ve been having regular times with God before I head to work, and I’ve come to appreciate how important and vital those times are. They center me before the day starts. Now, when I don’t have those times, I notice a distinct difference.
If you’re in one of those frenetic times in life, let me say I feel your pain. It’s not easy. But, keep in mind that you will get through it. You will come into a period of rest. Keep an eye out for those, and when they happen, sink into them and enjoy them. And in the meantime, take one day at a time.
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