As we head into the last quarter of 2020, hasn’t it been an unbelievable year?
In shared ways and diverse. Most of us have been impacted by COVID19 in one way or the other with situations and circumstances that overwhelm or overtake us. Maybe like me you have felt like the problems have kept cropping up, month after month. When you think you have managed to get a handle on something, from out of nowhere something bigger is flung in your direction. It is totally natural to get exhausted. But how do you refuse to get stressed by things you cannot change or control? With only three months left in the year, national mental health statistics indicate that more and more people are losing hope from the strains imposed by this worldwide pandemic that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The trick is to deal with pressures and dodge exhaustion by refusing to cave into stressful situations when held hostage by matters that are unlikely to change and you have zero control over.
3 tools to deal with stress and exhaustion
1| Get to the root of things
We are all grasping for quick answers and fixes, although sometimes problems do not have an obvious solution. Other times, it requires us setting aside the problem for a time or probing deeper. Something I have found useful when trying to deal with a problem is find the root cause for my issue. And a great and simple way is to use your hand as a prop. Repeatedly ask the WHY question (up to 5 times) in an effort to prevail to the bottom of an issue. Because as you know one question can lead into another. And assist you to peel back your problem like an onion. In underlining the cause of our worries to tackle the problem rather than just the symptoms.
- Be specific.
- Take your problem, write it down as accurately as you can figure it out.
- Then try and brainstorm. Why does this problem keeping occurring?
- If you seem to hit a block, try ask why again and write the response down.
- The point is to try and identify the root causes to any problem and determine the relationship between different root causes of a problem. Until you unearth the cause of your distress.
2| Don’t lose heart
Discouragement can scar us. What we see, the perceived conflicts around us, from damaged relationships to circumstances that leave us wondering what will happen next. Morally there has been a shift in our thinking. Are we relying solely on God and His word? Or have we turned towards our own desires? Has it become less about honouring God and more about ourselves? Where suddenly we wonder how we ended up in the place we are at without peace and restless.
- We believe the illusion of doubt.
- We get discouraged.
- We lose heart.
- We convince ourselves that the troubling facts are so complicated that we are unable to face the future.
But no where in this does God want us to stand on our own. Yes, the reasons to our problems may be real. Bad news comes to us all as we live in a fallen world. With God close to our side we can defeat the discouragement that blows our way, rather than allowing the imbalance of situations to overtake us. Now don’t get me wrong, I have in no way mastered this. I still get overwhelmed by problems. In fact, I have faced a number of problems this year, and often I wake in the middle of the night asking God for a solution, because in my own strength I am unable to figure everything out.
3| Seek root causes to your problems
Attempting to use this powerful tool of asking WHY is a technique that can assist us in trying to get to the root of what is causing us issues or limitations. Personally, I have found at times I am moving past five whys to more if I cannot find an answer and need to keep asking. I love how the bible is full of stories of discouragement. As a means to encourage us. And the renowned story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:16-18 is one that we can all relate to. We can become confined to the prison of our despair. But when we consciously trust that the God who is for us is greater than what we face, we can be free of worry and begin to restore hope. God is able to open our eyes like He did when Elisha prayed and the servant was able to see the power of God’s army all around them. And a promise for us to deeply root ourselves in the faithfulness of a God who will not let us down.
3 clues on ‘what to do when’ you are stressed and exhausted
1| What to do when those feelings overtake you…
Focus on how great God is. Right now, take a moment to put your problem to one side and jot down why you think God is so great. If you gaze into the sky you will be amazed at the immenseness of God’s greatness. Just that fact can help you shrink your problems instead of magnifying them. God is never far away even when we feel like that problem that keeps pulling us down is defeating even though we constantly pray about.
And we believe God doesn’t seem to be showing us what to do. We think He is absent when the bills pile up. The work stress overtakes us. Uncertainty wrenches our souls. People knock us with their calamities. Those are the times we must keep pushing because God is never absent. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
He is right there. He is all powerful and wise and we need to keep hurrying to get closer to Him.
2| What to do when you need rest…
This verse may be well known, but Christ is beckoning us to come with all those burdensome problems weighing you to the point of weary and cumbersome and seek His rest. (Matthew 11:28)
- Are you worn down from all those piling problems?
- Are you exhausted from needing a break, away from the constant woes of others?
This week I have felt like everyone wants a part of me, like leeches sucking the life out of me. I headed to the foot of the cross. Jaded and burnt out. In my own efforts I am useless. I can attempt the tasks that lay before me. Write reports, respond to emails, communicate politely with people. But most importantly instead of crumbling. I can entrust my distress and know that resting in God my burdens will become light. Because He knows me better than I know myself and how fragile I am. (Psalm 103:13-14)
Take a moment to simply submit and surrender to the greatness of God. Though seasons in life can pull us down.This does not mean we should feel worthless.That negative self-talk needs to change – start speaking positive bible verses over your life. Don’t let the past paralyse you from moving into the future God has for you. Too often we hold onto the shame and bitterness and gaze longingly at that closed door well after God has shut it. Instead of surrendering to His will and walking confidently with Him ahead.
3| What to do when the future scares you…
The present might be disappointing. What we have experienced this year might be different from what we expected. There will always be a gap between the life we expected to have and the life we actually have. As Christians we need to live our best life by considering what we encounter as momentary affliction in comparison to the everlasting glory of eternal life. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Next time that problems sets in. Try fighting the feeling by looking upward to God. The 5 WHYs is a great tool. But above that, fix your perspective on knowing God will work things out. At times to acknowledge our disappointment requires taking our fears and replacing them with courage through constant prayer. Because honestly God’s plan and design for our lives is more than what we expected. He never throws us into a fiery furnace then abandons us. He will complete the work He has began in each of us. So, for a moment let that truth sink in. God is not done with you yet! And consign God with your discouraging worries, undone plans and unpleasant troubles.
Share your thoughts…
Can you recall the number of times today you have minimised God’s greatness by magnifying the overwhelming nature of your circumstances?What are you expecting God to do in your life in the next three months of 2020?