The Apology of Stress (D4)

My life is overwhelming at times — at least it seems so through my eyes!

On any given day there is a mix of work, meetings, calls, activities, projects, errands and other assorted home responsibilities. If I’m lucky, I may sneak in some time to catch-up with a family member or a friend, do some Bible study or just sit with some quiet moments for myself. I wish the second list was more assured each day, than the first, but I’m still a work in progress!

I’m sure I’m not too far off from everyone else out there — add in some kids, a health issue or just other responsibilities that life throws at us. Our days run one into the other and before we know it we are wondering where a whole year went. A hot mess of too many things to do and not enough time. Nothing new, right?

I’ve done a few studies on the life and effects of the chronically busy, and I have taken some steps from them to somewhat lessen my busyness issues. Yet I still find days where I am a bit overwhelmed by the stress of life, and my schedule, and then I let that stress melt out into my interactions.

Yesterday was a sad example.

I was having a challenging day. A work day tied up mostly in a training class, then trying to take care of normal daily work issues that had to be handled by closing time, in whatever moments I had remaining. Top that with a new project assignment that I must get up to speed on nice and quick. I was feeling pretty stressed by the end of my work day.

Right about that same time, I was trying to coordinate an evening out with friends, while also trying to handle some personal phone calls. As can sometimes be my way, the stress of my day got the better of me. I’m not proud of it, but I was less than wonderful in a few of those interactions, which then led to I’m Sorry communications later on.

Proverbs 29:11 tells us “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

As I contemplate that verse, in light of my situation yesterday (or any day, for that matter), I think the words are telling us that though we feel anger or stress inside, it is not always wise to let those feelings overflow to our interactions with others. At least not in a negative way!

First, I don’t want to say something I can’t take back — or that could be hurtful to someone. And in those moments when we are the most heated, its that minute or two of contemplation that can make or break a conversation. This is probably the hardest step — to just take a breathe and really think about what is fueling your words BEFORE we say them.

Second, did I make the situation any better by sharing those words or feeling? Sure, sometimes we just need to vent, but did the venting have any positive effect? On me, or on the person I vented to?

Finally, why am I so stressed out in the first place? Is it something I can work out or resolve? How can I affect the cause of my stress or whatever is causing my bad feelings? Or do I need to find a better way of dealing with the outcome or results of that situation. As my girlfriend used to remind me — if you can’t change the situation, then you need to change how you think about it, or react to it. Pretty good advise!

So today, it’s a late lunch and the day is pretty much wrapping up to be a bit like yesterday. I’m trying to view it from a different perspective though. Calm head, deep breathes and maybe a hint of Serenity wafting out of the diffuser!

Wish me luck!

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