I am feeling stressed. There is a lot going on in my life right now. This makes it hard for me to be hopeful and optimistic. I keep forgetting to look for signs of God’s presence in my life and in the world. My life, right now, is not the fairytale story that it felt like a few weeks or months ago.
I don’t, in the least, blame God. I am not asking myself, “Why did God allow this to happen?” or “Why has God withdrawn from me?” I know that the stress is caused by choices I have made and choices that those I love and care about have made, along with normal stresses of normal life. I know that the miracles are still there, waiting for me to notice. I’ve just been so preoccupied and distracted that I’ve passed right by.
And, it has not been all bad. I have had some good conversations with insightful people. I have even had some good laughs. I have found beauty here and there. If the “magical” quality has been reduced for the moment, I know that it will be able to be recaptured when this stressful time passes into memory.
Tonight, I am left giving myself advice. Get through this difficult point in time as gracefully as possible and believe that everything will be okay on the other side. The question is, what are some helpful steps I can take to get through these stressful moments?
1) Rely on family and friends. Sharing stories with people who care about me helps me to know that others have been here before me and others will be here after me and we will all get through our hard times if we stick together.
2) Exercise. Even though it seems easier and more restful to veg out in front of the tv or bury myself in sleep, I have learned that it is really better for my state of mind if I choose to exercise instead. Walking on the treadmill, stretching out into yoga poses, and swimming laps build me up and help me get rid of stress.
3) Take time for fun. An evening at a pub. A silly movie. A walk on the beach. If I add a little fun into each day, it helps me stay positive and to overcome the idea that this stress will never end. A little fun helps me to relax and breathe.
4) Pray. Immerse myself in Scripture. Go to Mass. These things help me to keep things in perspective. These things help me to remember that I am not alone. These things remind me that there is something bigger than me to rely on.
5) Count my blessings. When I take a few minutes to be grateful for the blessings in my life instead of dwelling on negative thoughts, it helps me to snap out of my destructive self-pity.
When I find myself being overcome by stress, when I find it hard to be optimistic, and when I find myself losing hope, I have to make a conscious decision not to give up, not to give in. Yes, this is a tough time. Still, things are not impossible. I am incredibly blessed. Things will be better soon. And, even in the midst of stress, there is a lot of beauty and grace in my life. I just have to open my eyes and my heart to see it.