I’ve been reading some really great books lately. One on marriage, others on doing life better, some just light hearted novels, and even one on finances (yes, I’ve joined the Barefoot Investor bandwagon!).
But the book I’ve been reading on marriage is a standout. The Love Dare is basically a 40 day marriage challenge. Each day focuses on a different topic, and gives you a challenge for the day which aims to improve the relationship with your spouse. It’s not a new book - in fact over 5 million copies are in print - it’s just one I hadn’t prioritised and purchased. I wish I’d read it a long time ago. It is simple yet profound, and has left me with so many insights into ways I personally can be a better wife, and even manage different areas of my life better.
On Day 6, this quote jumped out at me and I thought ‘that’s it, that’s exactly how I can manage unhealthy stress better’. And this isn’t just related to marriage. So many things can push in on us and wear us down. Serious health issues are a big one which can just be so relentless. But there are many, many other causes of stress too.
If you’re looking for ways to manage unhealthy stress, then check this out:
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. This means you must balance, prioritise, and pace yourself. Too often we throw caution to the wind and run full steam ahead, doing what feels right at the moment. Soon we are gasping for air, wound up in knots, and ready to snap. The increasing pressure can wear away at our patience and our relationships.
The Bible can help you avoid unhealthy stress. It teaches you to let love guide your relationships so you aren’t caught up in unnecessary arguments (Colossians 3:12-14). To pray through your anxieties instead of tackling them on your own (Philippians 4:6-7). To delegate when you are overworked (Exodus 18:17-23). To avoid overindulgence (Proverbs 25:16).
It also exhorts you to take a “Sabbath” day every week for worship and rest. This strategically allows you time to recharge, refocus, and add margin or breathing room to your weekly schedule. By establishing these breaks and extra spaces, you will place cushions between you and the pressures around you, reducing the stress that keeps you on edge.
How good is that?! It’s like a stress management toolkit in a couple of paragraphs.
Now, I know that not all stress can be solved that quickly and that simply. I am acutely aware of that. But I do think that these principles are a great foundation of both reactive (i.e. praying through anxiety), and proactive (i.e. taking a day off each week) stress management strategies.
I would LOVE to know if you try any of the ideas and whether you find they work.
P.S. I wrote a post last month on Running at an 8 - another strategy I use to manage this unexpected life I’m living. It does feel like I’m living someone else’s life sometimes!