If you’ve been following along with my Biblical Peace Day posts (#biblicalpeacedaychallenge on Facebook), you might notice that I got off my originally planned schedule.
Ironically, this whole series has been about how to handle situations when things don’t go as planned –because, let’s be honest when do things actually go as planned, like, ever?
So, I had the opportunity to test my ideas first hand this week and see if they really work –I am relieved to be able to say that my approach worked.
After all, we are called to be peaceful.
Then, how do we deal with the things that stress us out?
If we are choosing to be peaceful what do we do when faced with things that do not bring us peace?
The following is a list of things that have helped me, as well as PDF print outs to help you brainstorm solutions for your particular situation, to help you find peaceful approaches to your stressful issues.
I have been able to pray myself through stressful situations.
It doesn’t fix every problem, and sometimes –like in the case of a panic attack or health crisis– I need medical attention and not solely prayer.
But, we are commanded to pray without ceasing, and we know that we are supposed to make our requests known to God.
Whether God chooses to answer us with a “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait,” prayer can help.
But, it is more than just telling God what we want or need.
Prayer can have a meditative and calming affect on us.
Even if it doesn’t change our situation, it can have a calming effect on us.
It helps us to know that God is listening and working behind the scenes even if we cannot see what He is doing.
Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God’s timing.
Reminding myself that God is ultimately in control can have a soothing effect on my nerves.
I have even been known to chant, “God is in control” over and over under my breath to calm myself.
Don’t forget to give thanks for everything –even the things you don’t feel thankful for.
The unthankful heart discovers no mercies but the thankful heart will find in every hour, some heavenly blessings. —Henry Ward Beecher
2. Quote scripture
I have been known to quote scripture over and over to help destress.
I will use scripture I’ve memorized as a mantra, a chant to soothe my anxiety and stress.
My children jokingly tell me to go to my happy place.
I have a funny story about that which I will share another time.
Other verses that might help you:
Meditating on Scripture can help keep us calm during difficult times.
3. Listen to calming music
I like praise music.
It helps me focus on the Lord and helps me get through hard stuff.
Praise music can have a huge calming effect on me, but I cannot guarantee it will have that effect on everyone.
Others may find that classical music or some other kind soothes and calms them better.
I have a playlist on YouTube just for this purpose.
There are many many songs that were written about God’s faithfulness and trusting God during the hard times.
I cling to those songs and sing them to myself when I need to be reminded that the Lord is still there and still in control.
The Bible never once says “Figure it out.” But over and over it says “Trust God.” He’s already got it all figured out.
4. Get medical treatment
Adhd, anxiety, thyroid, adrenal problems –and more– can cause a difficulty in keeping calm and peaceful.
People who are emotionally, psychologically, and physically healthy don’t react badly to stress.
I mean it: our bodies were created to handle normal amounts of stress like making dinner, cleaning houses, and teaching our children.
Abnormal amounts of stress can cause trauma.
If basic things that probably shouldn’t be stressing you are stressing you, you need to get some help.
Many times, our natural instincts take over, but they are misfiring like I described in my previous post.
Don’t give up looking for help until you get it.
Be your own advocate, and push if you have to –I had to keep pushing until I got answers.
If you’re not well, you’re not going to be equipped to take care of your family.
If you’re not well, it’s not your fault.
Cut yourself slack.
You can only function as well as your body and mind are able to.
Seriously, get help.
You owe it to your family to take care of yourself so that you can take care of them.
I know first hand that you can’t take care of others if you can’t even take care of yourself.
5. Accept what you cannot control
Accept it if it’s not perfect.
Be more concerned about your testimony –the condition of your heart– than your house –the external and visual conditions of your body, house, car, family, etc.
Me getting to the point that it was okay if things weren’t perfect was huge!
God cares what your children’s hearts look like, not what your homeschool room looks like –Karen Debeus
God also cares about what your heart looks like, not what your house looks like. I have a whole post about this topic.
If you are here, God put you here for a reason.
Accept that He has a reason for what is happening.
It is in your broken places you are most often used by God. –Christine Cain
6. Observe your own behavior
Learn the clues as to when you’re reaching your limit.
Back off before you get to the point of yelling or being overwhelmed.
Whether you have a slow build to crazy mom or you go from sane to crazy mom in .02 seconds, know yourself.
We can’t always stop ourselves before we lose it, but we can learn from it —and apologize to those around us for our bad behavior.
When you do lose it, make note of what your trigger was.
Remember that the goal is to stay a peace and calm –no matter what happens.
“Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.”
Yesterday, my trigger was arguing children.
I am sure I am the only one who dislikes arguing children, right?
If you’re not aware of what you’re doing and how you’re responding ask your spouse or oldest child to tell you when you start getting snappy.
And then, actually listen and don’t snap when they tell you.
I have been guilty of biting my oldest’s head off when he tells me I’m overreacting.
He’s very faithful to tell me when I am not acting politely.
7. Be pre-emptive.
Figure out what is causing you stress, and then brain storm solutions so you can address the problem next time before you reach critical mass.
For example, if the dishes bother you and cause you stress like making you grumpy or yell, consider creative solutions such as:
- using paper plates,
- buying disposable baking pans,
- hiring the teen down the road to come catch you up on dishes once a week,
- asking your mom or friend for some help,
- buying a dishwasher or a better quality dishwasher if you have one already,
- teaching a child to do it with you if you can,
- focusing on making one pot meals so you have less to wash,
- making larger meals and have left overs so you are cooking and using dishes less often.
I have tried all of these and more to help me deal with the stress of doing the dishes.
For me, it is more than just stress since doing the dishes causes pain.
Some of these might cost more money or be less than the perfect solution, but is trying to appear perfect better than doing what works?
Better than not snapping and yelling at your children?
Remember the true show of your faith is in your character, in how you treat your children and husband.
Displaying good character and maintaining your testimony matters far more than how your house looks or if you are doing things the “right” way.
Since the Bible doesn’t tell us how to run our houses, there is no right way.
Our characters matter.
If I cannot give my children a perfect mother, I can at least give them more of the one they’ve got –and make that one more loving. I will be available. I will take time to listen, time to play, time to be home…, time to counsel and encourage. –Ruth Bell Graham
What did you know stressed you out before you even started your peace day?
What did you not realize stressed you out until you tried it and realized you weren’t doing it peacefully?
Now, how can you address those issues that stress you out?
Can you ask for help?
Trade with a friend –like “Hey, I’ll watch your kids for a date night if you help me file these papers I hate filing,” for example?
You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. –C.S. Lewis
If you need help with brainstorming ideas, comment here or on the Facebook page, and I will try to help you come up with more ideas.
8. Lower your expectations
Let’s say, for example, that you’re always exhausted by the time dinner time comes and often end up yelling.
What’s worse: that your child watches 30 or 40 minutes of Clifford the Big Red Dog while you make dinner in peace or that you do it the way you think is ideal and risk your testimony by yelling and losing your temper?
If dinner stresses you but you don’t want to use the TV, why not choose very simple dinners?
Think outside the box and make choices by putting an emphasis on your character –can you stay peaceful?
Can you maintain your testimony?
Can you do it without yelling, grousing, or otherwise being unkind?
When you lose your temper — and you will eventually— apologize to your children and spouse.
Model good behavior which means if you can’t do it right, apologize for the failure.
Humble yourself and admit you’re not perfect.
They don’t need a perfect mom.
They need a surrendered mom.
They need an honest mom.
Maintaining your peace and your testimony in front of your family is far more important than anything you need to get done.
These children are your mission field.
“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”
Find ways, to do what needs to be done without ruining your testimony.
I thought parenting was going to portray my strengths, never realising that God had ordained it to reveal my weaknesses. –Dave Harvey
10. Learn to let go
Learning to let go of things you cannot control is not easy, and I’ll not insult your intelligence by suggesting that it is.
However, nothing kills our peace faster than fighting for an ideal we cannot attain.
The Lord uses disruptions to keep us dependent on Him.
11. Find a support system
Remember that you’re surrounded by a cloud of unseen witnesses cheering you on to victory in Christ.
Expose yourself to people who have faced trials and been faithful.
Consider reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, for example.
Here’s a quote from fiction but that I find very faith-challenging:
“If the Lord will, He can save us even from this fearful peril; if not, let us calmly yield our lives into His hand, and think of the joy and blessedness of finding ourselves for ever and ever united in that happy home above. Even death is not too bitter, when it does not separate those who love one another.” –Johann David Wyss in The Swiss Family Robinson (This is what the father in the story told his children when they were abandoned by the crew sailing their ship and when they faced almost-certain death in the storm-raging seas.)
Church, family, friends, Facebook groups, and more can all form the basis of support that you can go to for help.
A counselor can help you with frustration.
Call a friend, and rant and rave –I do this, and it helps.
Some people process better when they talk it out.
If talking it out makes you more upset then don’t do this.
If it helps you calm down, do it.
Don’t ignore the importance of prayer as mentioned above.
Here are two files I made to help us list out our triggers and possible solutions to those triggers. One is list-style, and the other is a mind-map.
Never feel guilty for wanting peace.
We all need times of peace for our sanity.
You’re actually doing better for your family by seeking peace.
Even though it is contrary to the way we are told we should be.
Peace comes from contentment and resting in God.
Contentedness is a spiritual issue, not a practical one. Contentedness will not come from being more organized, being a better wife, keeping a nicer home, living in a different place, taking more time for yourself, or whatever it is you think might help. Contentedness is learned by accepting life each day as God gives it to you, and adjusting your expectations to life’s limitations. — Sally Clarkson
How much better could your home life be if you could keep yourself peaceful?
If you could parent from a place of peace?
It is my prayer that peace would rule your heart.
Here are the posts in this series. I will add the links as I publish the posts.