Thursday, August 30, 2012

Are You Overwhelmed? 8 Things to Consider

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Anxious?   Do you often feel there is too much to do and not enough time to do it all?  When someone asks how you are, do the words "so busy" or "stressed" flood your mind?  I've spent a lot of my years as a wife and mommy feeling this way.  Not only do I not want to feel this way, I know it is not God's best for me. As a society we have accepted the fast pace, rat race way of life.  It has become the norm.  Most everyone is running around all the time, busy-busy, with so much to do.  I've decided feeling overwhelmed should not be the norm.  It's time to do something to change it.  

I've taken a close look at my life in order to identify what the triggers are for feeling overwhelmed and I've asked God to show me His perfect peace.  Like everything else in my life, this is a work in progress.  People like to say, "God won't put more on you than you can handle".  TRUE, but WE can certainly put more on ourselves than we can handle.  As we women put more and more pressure on ourselves anxiety creeps in and we begin to accept it as part of the package of our womanhood.  When I began to dig around for the source of and solution for anxiety I dug up the following.  If you struggle with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed here are some things to consider.

1.  SIN - Do you have unconfessed sin in your life?  Sometimes we feel overwhelmed because we are not in right relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Don't make excuses for gossip, or disrespect to your husband, as if that's just part of being a woman.  We must confess our sins to God and ask forgiveness.  It is important to stay very close to the heartbeat of God and walk in His ways.  If sin piles up we can feel stressed and anxious and unhappy.  Don't allow that to happen.  Seek to glorify God in all that you say and do and when you don't, be quick to make things right.  Psalm 51:2  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

2.  TIME - Are you wasting time?  Do you waste hours in front of the TV or on the computer?  Do you talk on the phone more than and longer than you should?  Wasting time can make the overwhelmed feeling come on strong.  First, there's the fact that you aren't getting anything done and then there's the guilt when you realize how much time you have given away.  Be extremely aware of what you do with your time and treat it like the precious commodity it is.  How should a godly woman spend her time?  Find the answer to that question by reading the Bible and talking with God.  He is faithful to show us how to live if we ask Him.  Psalm 145:18  The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.  Proverbs 31:27  She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.

3.  DOORMAT - Maintaining proper boundaries requires grace.  A godly woman must learn to be giving and kind while not becoming a doormat for people to wipe their feet on.  It is not necessary to be a  "yes woman".  You don't have to say yes to everything you are asked to do.  Pray regularly.  Obey God.  Give up the people pleasing. If you are saying yes to everyone, trying to do everything, you are likely to get overwhelmed and frustrated.  It is also possible that you are short-changing your family in some way.  Know what God has called you to do and do your very best.   John 12:43  For they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.  

4.  CHOICES - Be sure you make positive, healthy choices rooted in the word of God.  Sometimes I make stupid choices that can quickly lead to anxiety.  If I make the choice to be disrespectful to my husband or angry with my children I have to wrestle with guilt.  If I choose to waste time on the computer I am neglecting the things I need to take care of.  If I choose to take on too many responsibilities I will probably become overwhelmed and guess who I will take my frustration out on, most likely, my family.  We must be very careful in choosing what ministries we get involved in, what projects we take on, and what extra-curricular activities we allow our children to sign up for.  Proverbs 16:20  He who gives attention to the word shall find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.   

5.  PERFECTIONISM - Here's my Nemesis.  I am a perfectionist.  The good side?  I like to do things well.  I want to work with excellence.  The down side?  The enemy of "good enough" is perfectionism.  I won't get started on something unless I know I have time to do it perfectly.  I re-do things sometimes unnecessarily because I want them to be perfect.  I bring extra work on myself because I want everything just perfect.  And I don't have to remind you, we don't live in a perfect world!  I also expect perfection out of others and that's just not good, especially with children.  Are you a perfectionist?  I'm not suggesting we become sloppy, or do less than our best, or do jobs half-way.  I just know for me sometimes I need to relax.  I bring on the anxiety when I want a perfect house, with perfect children, and the perfect home-school and I want to serve the perfect meal and fold the laundry perfectly and be the perfect wife, mother, and friend.  We can't have everything perfect, or be perfect all the time, and we shouldn't look for contentment in "perfect"ness.  True contentment is found in Christ, not our circumstances.  1 Timothy 6:6  But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.   

6.  PROCRASTINATION - Procrastination and Perfectionism are cousins.  Did you know?  If I can't do something perfectly, I will procrastinate doing it.  If you don't have this struggle you might not understand this.  If you do struggle with this,  you know exactly what I mean.  My only solution for procrastination is to make a to-do list and force myself to get things done, and to set a timer while I work on a particular task.  When the timer goes off I make myself move on to the next thing.  These two ideas can work if you make yourself stick to the rules.  List making and deadlines are the only way to get me past procrastination.  It also helps if you have a friend to hold you accountable.  Ask someone to call you at the end of the day to find out if you got X, Y, or Z accomplished.  Knowing you are going to get the call will force you into action.  1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.  

7.  BALANCE - You can't pour all of yourself into being a mother and ignore your husband.  You can't put all of your efforts into your home and neglect your home school.  You can't overextend yourself at church and neglect your home.  You can't put every bit of your energy into serving others and have nothing left for yourself.  In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed and experiencing anxiety you must seek to balance your life.  By "life" I mean your spiritual life and relationship with God, your role as a wife and help meet to your husband, your responsibilities as a mother and nurturer of your children, your health, your relationships outside of your immediate family, and everything else that makes us women.  Balance can be found by seeking to follow God and being obedient to Him.  A balanced woman knows her calling and lives accordingly.  Balance means taking care of ourselves AND our families.  Balance means we can't do it all, but we can do all that God calls us to do.  If I'm feeling overwhelmed I am probably doing something God has not called me to do.  Matthew 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  

8.  STUFF - Having too many belongings leads to anxiety.  Yes, really.  Do you have too many clothes crammed in your drawers?  Do your children have too many toys filling up every room?  Is your garage overflowing and your closet a mess?  You can't be organized if you have too much stuff and the only answer to this is to simplify.  Clean out the closets and drawers and donate the extra to charity.  Have the children choose some toys to keep and some to give away.  Are your kitchen cabinets hard to close, or does everything have to come out when you are looking for one particular item?  If so, you have too much.  Clean out the cabinets, drawers, closet and garage.  Get rid of any excess and bless someone else.  It is much easier to clean and keep the house organized if it's not busting at the seams.  There's a calm feeling that accompanies having less stuff.  The rooms seem larger and are easier to keep tidy when you simplify and downsize the amount of stuff you have.  Matthew 6:19-20a  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.   But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.  Psalm 39:4  Lord make me to know my end, and what is the extent of my days, let me know how transient I am.

*Dear Sweet Moms, Remember not to take on too much and to keep things simple.  Recognize that your family is your primary ministry and please remember God cares for you.  I hope something on my list will help if you struggle with feeling overwhelmed.*

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