This topic was very appropriate this week. My stress levels have finally begun to lower a little bit after several weeks of functioning almost constantly in high gear.
Sometimes I feel so weary. It can be lack of sleep or a busy few days of constant running around. Travel and visiting with family are both wonderful, but for introverts like my husband and I, they are also draining. As moms, we are on call all the time. Even if you work a paid job outside the home, volunteer regularly or run your own business from home; the dynamic is often the same. Now, I realize that in many households this is changing. Shared care and shared household responsibilities are becoming more common. But if you look at the statistics, even when moms work full time outside the home, they are still responsible for more than 50% of the household management from childcare to food prep. This is not to criticize but to be aware of the load many of us carry. It’s OK to feel weary and like there is more to do than you have hours in the day. It’s not an illusion. There really is more work than we can finish, which is why much of our time is spend prioritizing and often multi-tasking, whether done well or not.
But we need rest. I’m not going to discuss the philosophy of taking care of yourself first. I realize that is a controversial one that I’m still trying to figure out myself. How do I serve my family without wearing myself to a frazzle or becoming bitter? I don’t have those answers yet. But what I am saying is that when you are tired, you need rest. Sometimes this will mean actual sleep. Sacrificing those lovely post bedtime hours by going to bed early. This is one that I hate and still struggle with. But I know in theory that I will feel better and be more efficient if I sleep well, so I’m working on it.
Emotional rest is a little more complicated. It often requires physical rest too. But sometimes it actually takes additional work. The cure for emotional weariness is to find our joy and purpose again. But it can be helped along the way with little decisions. I love Jamie’s first tip in this section.
“Take it one hour (or minute) at a time.”
Yes. This is how I survive most days. Otherwise I start going down the slippery slope of negativity. All I need is the strength to survive today, or sometimes just the next hour or minute. I have to believe I’ll have what I need for the rest of it when the time comes.
We talked last week about gratitude and it comes up again here. We need to look for the good and continually remind ourselves of it. This is part of the practice of thanksgiving. It’s also another coping strategy for when things get difficult. It isn’t easy. Easy is tuning your kids out through electronics (Guilty!) or having that extra dessert because you tell yourself you deserve it. (Been there too). Focusing on the positive is harder, but totally worth it because the end result is that soon it is easier to see the blessings in our lives.
Last, but certainly not least (actually it really should be first). We need to pray, constantly and without ceasing. I’m still trying to get a handle on how to do this. I am by no means an expert (though I believe it was Henry Nouwen who said we must except that we will only ever be beginners at prayer). But it occurs to me that every time I mutter complaints under my breath I could be praying for help. When I want to scream, I could sing instead. When I want to run, I could fall to my knees and ask the savior of the universe to save me once more from myself. Do I always do that? Nope. Do I want to? Desperately. Just like all of you, I’m only a beginner.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29