Strive, Survive, or Thrive
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8 NIV
How are you managing the stress of life?None of us escape life pressures; they come at us from all angles:
*the people in our workplace
All of these (and more) place demands on us than we can't handle. We can strive (and risk burnout), simply survive (and risk burnout), or make choices that help us to thrive.
"Just Work Harder"
Over-functioning is a coping mechanism for grief, trauma, disappointment, loneliness, and relational confusion. This "striving" response can include unnecessarily strenuous exercise, compulsive cleaning, becoming a workaholic, and constantly seeking busy-ness. We throw ourselves into our work, and plan activities for every other waking hour. Predictably, we run out of steam or hit a wall, and our "problem" is exacerbated.
Spoiler Alert: There's No Such Thing As a "Delete" Button
Another coping mechanism, under-functioning, is acting like the problem doesn't exist. We act like it doesn't affect us, but it does. We "stuff" the stress, but it accumulates like garbage and leaks out in unhealthy ways, like
*when we suddenly become angry with someone who's not part of the real problem
*we turn our anger inward and it becomes depression
*we numb our pain with unsustainable quick fixes like alcohol, self-harm, unhealthy relationships, or emotional eating.
When we "stuff" our stress, we are in denial--lying to ourselves about the reality of its affect on us. Creating a false reality only serves to decrease our integrity as it chips away at authenticity.
What Is Wrong With Us?
The bottom line is that we were never meant to know evil. The stress of living in a fallen, sinful world where we sin and suffer was not part of God's good creation. Stress came when sin entered the world, and all of a sudden, mankind had relationship problems, selfishness, pride, and a host of other maladies. Now we struggle with anxiety and depression; we seek to gain control through perfectionism; or we simply give up on life. None of these paths lead to peace and healthy productivity.
Getting From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be
Taking responsibility for ourselves is the first step in moving toward peace, and it means learning better ways to navigate all the pressures that life presents. No one else can do this for us, so it's important that we are intentional about:
*saying "no" when a request exceeds your capacity to fulfill it
*eating to nourish the body, not just stave off hunger or feel good
*getting moderate exercise outdoors each day
*spending time connecting with God each day
*learning to identify those in your life who are "drains" or "gains"; limiting time with the "drains" and increasing time with the "gains"
*investing in yourself: take courses, read, be creative, get enough rest, try something new, plan a wholesome activity, get better at your current job
*reaching out to others to decrease self-absorption: plan a meal with someone, take someone flowers, send an encouraging text.
Self-Care Isn't Selfishness
Taking care of YOU is good stewardship. Our purpose in this life includes blessing others out of our own overflow; we need to be in a healthy place so we can have a positive effect on our family, friends, and co-workers.
Being self-aware means coming to a realization of your own needs and limitations. Ask yourself these questions:
*What's going on in my body?
*How do I feel?
*How did I get this way?
*What can be done about what's happening with me?
*To whom can I reach out for help?
We were created for community--no one thrives at doing life alone. Inside healthy relationships, we can thrive, even on our worst days. In unhealthy relationships, we feel as though we're slowly dying. We can move from striving or simply surviving to thriving by being cognizant of ourselves and how we function best; finding trustworthy, safe people to share community with us; and moving intentionally toward God and others in love and compassion.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2 ESV
Subscribe to free weekly articles in your inbox HERE; your information will never be shared. :-)
©2022 Julianne Knapp. First published 9.13.22