All I wanted was sleep.
I willed myself to let go of the rising tension and fix my thoughts on peaceful things. A beach. My kids’ laughter. A mountain stream.
But my mind kept going back to the list of tasks I had to complete the next day. My husband was out of town and endless responsibilities felt like a weight on my chest, crushing me. And even with an air purifier running, every noise in the house put me on high alert.
The neighbor’s dog barked next door and I wondered, “What is she barking at?” I remembered the break-in at the house behind us several weeks ago. Was an intruder out there now?
Eventually, I doze off but I can feel the lack of sleep the next day. Everything irritates me.
I count getting the kids to the bus stop on time as a small win. If I can continue that streak into the afternoon with practices and games, I will be overjoyed.
But then afternoon comes and when it’s time to leave, little one needs a diaper change. Every kid has to use the bathroom at the same time. I can literally hear the clock ticking when my child calls me to wipe his butt. I don’t need to tell him he can do this himself.
When I’m well-rested, my husband is home and the baby takes a nap, it’s easy for me to see God’s goodness.
It’s everywhere I look. I can spot it in the twinkle my daughter gets in her eye as she prepares to do something mischievous. I can hear it whisper in the rain rustling the fall leaves.
But when I’m tired, well that’s a different story. Each second I wrestle to keep my mind centered. I fight against panic. In high stress situations when my heart palpitates, I know I need to do something to find peace.
Recently, God brought me to some practices that help me regain control of my anxious mind. Doing these things help my body return to a calm state and move outside the rhythm of overwhelm. My prayer is that you, dear reader, may find help from these as well.
It sounds simple, I know. But when my heart is racing and I feel like a panic attack is imminent, it’s something I need to remember to do. The deeper the breaths, the better. Regular, in and out, with counting if needed.
Do the next thing.
Don’t worry about the next twenty items on your list. Often, my source of stress is the notion that everything has to be done right now. But this isn’t possible, and most of the time everyone understands this. Check off the to-do which needs your attention most, and then move on to the next.
Make a list.
Check off each thing as you move through your day. Many times when I write down what I have to do, it isn’t nearly as impossible as it seemed in my head. Our minds can sometimes blow our responsibilities out of proportion. But when we see a visual, it empowers us to know we can do what needs to be done.
No matter what you’re facing today, know God is there. Call on his name to give you strength in your time of need. He isn’t a God who hands out stress and worry or calls us to do more than we’re able. His yoke is easy. His burden is light.
He is not a God of confusion. Ask him to guide you to the next step, and he will.
“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
Psalm 94:18-19 NIV
Congratulations, Rebecca Jones! You are the winner of a copy of Stolen Jesus: An Unconventional Search for the Real Savior. I will be in touch to get this gift to you. Thanks for reading!