Stress – a mental state that has become the norm for many of us. It describes daily struggles with uncertainty and feeling overwhelmed or powerless. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety seriously affects our well-being and also sabotages our productivity and purpose. The question is: How to reduce stress?
In the past, I felt anxious and stressed all the time. My tendency to be overly ambitious and worry a lot about my life, consistently infused my mind with thoughts of failure and fear. One day I woke up already dreading the day because I had soooo much to do. There is nothing worse than being stressed at 5am on a Saturday morning, trust me.
That’s when the Holy Spirit asked me ‘why are you stressed?’ I started telling him about all these things I had to do. Now mind you a lot of those things were actually for God’s glory #prioritycheck. However, when I was done, He told me to cancel half of my day and spend the morning with Him instead.
At first, I felt even more stressed. Because that meant I would miss out on money that I could invest into my project. Still anxious, He put a song on my heart and I started humming the lyrics:
Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders,
let me walk upon the waters,
wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior.
– Hillsong United
I immediately understood that God wanted to work on me and couldn’t if I was constantly stressed or preoccupied. Here I was, praying every night that God would instruct me, lead me into a beautiful future and show me how to live for Him, yet hesitant to entrust my daily routine? That makes no sense!
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How can I expect to hear God’s voice in the midst of uncertainty when I ignore him in a place of comfort?
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But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8
My change of mindset had to start now. I needed to stop trusting in worldly circumstances and start trusting God. It took me a little while to find the right balance, but by incorporating these 3 easy practices into my day I was able to grow my faith and stop being stressed for nothing:
Spending time with God in the morning
I’ve always been a morning person. When I was in school I would study very early in the morning because that’s when I can concentrate the best. When I was going through a rough time I would wake up super early to go running or workout in the gym and while I was working my 9-5 I preferred coming into work at 7 to benefit from my productivity the most. Now I wake up this early to pray.
The advantage of waking up and spending time with God first is that you can focus solely on Him and profit from the early morning solitude. Furthermore, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.
When you read scripture, you internalize the message learned and are able to apply it throughout your day. Which means that you are constantly aware of God’s hand on your life and that he is in control of everything.
Distractions are everywhere! They come in the form of our family, our work, and our phones. One distraction might be easier to avoid than the other (I have 7 family members and it’s impossible to hide from them). But that’s okay because not all distractions are bad. Here you should consider things that are unnecessary and interrupt your focus.
Something I like to do is turning off my mobile data when I’m out and about. Constantly receiving messages on multiple different social channels and hearing my phone ‘ping’ drives me crazy! I also believe that there is no need to stay up to date on everything that happens in the world 24/7. We didn’t need to in the past and we don’t need to now. Instead, I dedicate a specific time to checking my E-mails, WhatsApp’s, Tweets, DMs and even the news. This allows me to enjoy whatever I am doing in that moment undisturbed.
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Ohh that’s a big one! I am the queen of taking on too much. If it was for me I would be busy all day. Before I would try to manage everything in one day. Work, gym, passion project and other fun activities. I would stuff my day with thousand appointments and to-dos just to cancel most of them and get stressed out because I had to reschedule them. Luckily that changed.
Nowadays I only schedule a few things throughout my day and leave time spans in between. Those breaks allow me to chill out and have time to restore. Furthermore, if my schedule is running behind I can easily postpone things to later and release the feeling of guilt and irritation.
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Since incorporating these little habits I am able to keep my life in balance. I enjoy the moment and am more patient with people and situations without feeling stressed.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
Love & Light