Stress is common to all persons. My previous post explained how those in the business of helping others can be at greater risk to miss signs of too much stress leading to disastrous results. Below I share some ways to alleviate the negative effects of stress in life and leadership activities.
Again I refer to information provided by Dr. Eric Scalise from a seminar with the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). His 15 principles of self care (presented in a webinar in January 2014) are shared below.
1. Don't take your identity from your work: Who you are as a person is not defined by what you do as a professional or valunteer. For the Christian reading this, you are first a child of God. Your sonship or daughtership is the most important thing about your being. It defines who you are and your purpose for being and doing.
2. Learn what it means to have joy: Happiness is based on mood, while joy is intentionally made. Joy is produced by cultivating a grateful heart. Finding things for which to be thankful, in the midst of difficult circumstances, produces the fruit of joy.
3. Learn to de-personalize the process, and limit your time around negative people: Intentionally spend time around healthy people. Consider your limitations for handling negativity. No matter how spiritual we wish to be, our humanity cannot be ignored.
4. Rest because God created rest: Sabbath rest may mean something different to you than other people. Discover the difference between things that drain you and things that energize you and spend appropriate time replenishing your strength.
5. Sleep: Recent research shows how sleep literally can regenerate your brain. Depriving your body of enough sleep wears it down more quickly. Consuming caffeine before bedtime severely compounds the problem of too few sleep cycles per night.
6. Diet and exercise: What you consume becomes what your body is made of. Consume nourishing foods and your body is nourished. Consume junk, and your body becomes junk. Your body needs lots of water. Drink water even when you're not thirsty.
7. Learn to be silent and still: Extended reflection and contemplation time is one of the most valuable yet least practiced activities of the day. Luke 5:15-16 and other accounts show the example of Jesus in intentionally limiting ministry time.
8. Create outlets to avoid stagnation: Nothing can live in the Dead Sea because it has no water flowing out of it. Our spirit needs a life-giving flow out as well as a life-receiving flow in.
9. Seek to give your burdens to God every day: 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast your cares upon him ..." In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me ..." We should ask ourselves regularly, "Am I carrying a burden I should be giving to the Lord?" Or, "Am I carrying someone's burden (for them) that I should be letting them give to the Lord?"
10. Learn to "triage" your daily events: Not everything that is urgent is important, and not everything that seems important to others, is urgent for you. Set priorities and stick to them. Let others do things, especially things they can do more efficiently than you.
11. Learn to have realistic expectations: It's not about you (whatever it is). Life's meaning is found in pursuing God's design and purposes. People you work with are at differing degrees of knowledge and motivation in that pursuit.
12. Seek to resolve those things that can be accomplished quickly and easily: Especially when you're stuck, don't work on the 20% of the more difficult tasks on your to-do list. Fast and simple progress can help create inertia.
13. Learn to manage your time by saying "no": Set boundaries for yourself. Don't get pulled into other people setting your boundaries for you. There will always be people that have "important" things for you to do.
14. Learn to delegate to others whenever and wherever possible: Someone has said, "Cemeteries are full of indispensable people."
15. Find one or two key people to whom you can be accountable: Be completely honest, vulnerable, and transparent with someone close. Isolation is the number one enemy strategy to take out a leader.
Let me encourage you to take some reflection time to take an honest and hard look at these qualities in yourself. Ask someone close to you how they see your ability to achieve these things. Most importantly, spend some time in prayer and listening to God for His direction in how to respond. What is the specific item(s) God may want you to focus on right now at this point in your life? What specific action steps will you take to pursue the change needed to be where you believe God would want you to be in a week? month? year?
Take care, to be all that God made you to be!
Note: The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness. This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith) to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at http://bluerockbnb.com
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry