by: Dan Jarvis
WHAT ABOUT STRESS RELIEF TACTICS?
It depends. There are a wide variety of “tactics” out there – from squeezing a ball to religious meditation. Some tactics are practical in nature, and they make a lot of sense. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a deep breath and count to ten to calm down. If you feel the need to get some energy out, take a brisk walk around the block. If your day is too busy and you are feeling pressure, take a break and read a Psalm from the Bible to refocus on what matters most.
Where people can get into trouble with stress relief tactics is when they allow them to replace a relationship with God as the real answer for stressful situations. Certain exercises may help refresh your body, but they can’t answer the deepest needs of your soul. Taking a break may diffuse some frustration, but it can’t provide lasting peace. These are needs that only God can fill; and only a heart honest enough to admit its need for God can ever enjoy the sort of peace and serenity we each long for.
WHAT ABOUT DEMANDING PEOPLE IN MY LIFE?
It’s common for parents, bosses, spouses and even friends to pressure us into more hurried, discontented lives. Produce! Perform! Win! Try again! Work harder! Sell more! It’s enough to stress anybody out, and at the end of it, what do we have? Just more demands, more needs to meet, more trophies to aim for.
There’s nothing wrong with striving for higher productivity – in fact, achieving and succeeding can bring honor to God and joy to life. However, there are limits, and we need to exercise wisdom so we don’t overdo it. Before you bow to the demands of others, check those demands against your own priorities. What matters most to you? What purposes do you think God has for your life? Some people live in so much fear of what others think of them that they never have a chance to live their own lives or pursue their own dreams. They sacrifice themselves to impress or placate others. (Like the guy who buys things he doesn’t need with money he doesn’t have to impress people he doesn’t even like!)
If an authority figure is asking you to do more than you can maintain, appeal to them gently and see if there’s another way to arrange things. If you’re feeling pressure from friends or family, tell them you appreciate their enthusiasm but that you have to pace yourself. Don’t feel bad about saying, “No thanks,” or “How about another time?”
HOW CAN I MAKE MY HOME MORE PEACEFUL?
Home was designed by God to be a place of rest, refreshment, acceptance, and peace from the storms of the world around us. But some of us hear that description and laugh – “Not my home!” Some people even avoid going home when they need to relax; home is more “work” than work!
Imagine living in a household with three other people who each believe the world should revolve around them (you may not need to imagine!). The kids fight over toys, the adults fight over spending money, the whole family bickers over chores, and nobody wants to share the remote! The cause of all this centers on just one letter of the alphabet: I.
The recipe for a peaceful home starts with selflessness. Selflessness is real love, where you put the needs and wants of other people above your own. Imagine each person in your household having an attitude like that!
There may be a lot of individual factors in your household that make “peace” difficult to imagine: addictions, debts, bitterness, conflicts, etc. You aren’t going to overcome those by yelling a little louder or asserting your opinion one more time. In fact, the best way to start your household on the path to peace is to change yourself first. Start giving, listening and smiling a little more. Think of how others in your home are feeling and start praying for them. Make an effort to say one encouraging or complimentary thing to each member of your family, every day.
IS IT OKAY TO PUSH MY CHILD TOWARDS SUCCESS?
Kids have an in-born desire to please their parents (despite significant evidence to the contrary in teenagers), and most are thrilled to make a parent proud. That means some children will go to dramatic lengths to win the favor or catch the smile of a mom or dad, even if they go about it in all the wrong ways. You should use your influence to motivate kids in the right direction, but be sure that you:
- Affirm that your love is unconditional. Children need to sense that their parents are in love with them, in good times and bad. They need to feel total peace and never need to ask the question, “Do you still love me?” If your child’s success in academics, behavior, or sports is necessary for you to give them the best of your affection, you’ll do far more harm than good.
- Help them recognize what areas of life matter the most. “Success” is important, but not all-important. Your child’s desire to fulfill God’s purpose for his or her life is far more important than a drive toward earth-bound “success.” The best way to teach right priorities to your child is to adopt them yourself!
- Leave plenty of time for family play (screen time doesn’t count). Many kids have schedules stacked with demanding activities: school, sports, music – it’s a full-time job of making people happy. Be sure that when they come home, they get some time off to be themselves and to enjoy their childhood. And if there isn’t enough time, cut some activities!