How do you handle change? All of us negotiate new territory differently. What works for you to manage the stress of change may not be what works for me. Unfortunately, there is no guidebook, and no set rules for every scenario we go through.
The past seven months of upheaval in my life have taught me many things about how to better cope with the stress of life change and I am sharing them with you today.
1. Be kind to you. It is not helpful to have expectations set so high for yourself that you cannot possibly experience success. Instead of placing your entire life on a to-do list before you, perhaps you could narrow it down and tackle one or two things. When you finish, you will feel accomplished! You might even reward yourself with a treat, not necessarily in sugar form. Maybe allow yourself to watch a favorite TV show or to take a walk and breathe in some fresh air.
2. Know when to retreat. When you feel overwhelmed with noise, commotion, and chaos, sometimes the best thing you can do is to draw back, protect your psyche and get quiet. A well known passage of scripture is a beautiful reminder, "Be still and know that I am God;" Psalms 46:10. The NASB says it this way, "Cease striving and know that I am God;" Yes, cease striving. Retreating momentarily to gather your thoughts and breathe is not the same as letting yourself become isolated. Proper rest, moments of peace, sweet retreat.
3. Know when to connect. Depending on your personality, retreat may sound like the most welcome thing to you, Maybe too welcome. At times the stress of life change may beg for hibernation. At times I have been tempted to completely isolate myself, so that no one could demand anything or ask anything from me. But isolation is not healthy. You may want to climb into your shell and hide. Don't. We all need people around us who will encourage us, believe in us, and at times challenge us to move forward. Find them. Choose to be vulnerable and say, "I need you". We actually need both retreat and connection, like the ebb and flow of the ocean tide.
4. Stay in the presence. It is amazing what a difference a worship session can make in my own heart. In the presence of God we are lifted up above our circumstances. We are lifted up where we can catch a glimpse of the greatness and beauty of our Savior. We are reminded of HIs promises over us. We are reassured of His unconditional love. We feel Him holding tight to us and know that everything will be ok. When you live from this place, you suddenly find you are buoyed by hope! Oh what a precious commodity hope is. When you feel your hope running low, you know exactly what to do: get in His presence and worship Him again. And again. And again. (Repeat as necessary.)
5. Find a way to laugh. There is nothing that makes me laugh more than watching people fall down. (Don't judge.) I cannot help it! There is something about the spontaneous lack of control as they go tumbling to the ground in the most ungraceful way possible that just tickles my funny bone. (It could also be my own tendency toward clumsiness that makes me feel better about myself.) But YouTube is a GIFT of laughter when you are desperate. Think of the thing that makes you laugh the most and take a chuckle break. It will boost your serotonin and you will feel better equipped to tackle the next thing.
6. Stay thankful. Remind yourself of the things God has done for you. As money has become tighter and tighter for me, I find myself more grateful for the little things. I woke myself up the other night thanking God in my sleep for toilet paper!!! Whatever it takes, man. I am thankful! Even if things feel scary and your future looks uncertain you have so much to be thankful for now. You are breathing. You have a God who loves you. You have people who cheer you on, myself included. When you feel like complaining, start thanking.
7. Don't give up and don't look back. Just keep moving forward. There is always a next step that you can take. Determine to find it. You are stronger than you think you are. Today I read an anonymous quote that said, "One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you can't change." AMEN! There is far too much ahead of you to waste even one more second on regret or asking why. The Bible tells us that we go from glory to glory! Maybe you have had some past glory, Yay! But that also means GLORY AWAITS!
I hope these tips were helpful for you. This blog is one of the things I retreated from five months ago and oddly, it is one of my next steps today. Funny how that happens. I could beat myself up for it, but NO! I will be kind to me and say, "Good job, you! You did it!"
A reward is surely around the corner.