By Dawn Onley
If you have stress in your life, there’s a good chance you’re not saying “no” enough.
This is the tea I’ve been sipping on this weekend. These wise words come from Joyce Meyer, the dynamic preacher and speaker, who has a book coming out next spring called “Overload” which deals with the impact of stress, and more importantly, what we can do about it.
My mom went to a Joyce Meyer conference last week, and ever the writer, she took copious notes. My mom said that Meyer shared some takeaways from her book about stress, and it really struck a chord with me.
Stress is largely a disease of “yes” – where we take on way more than we should and it leaves us feeling overwhelmed and depleted. It doesn’t matter how we say yes, whether we are asked to do things or whether we volunteer. Stress impacts us when we fail to set limits that protect our peace.
To relieve stress, we must make changes in our lives, starting with saying “no” more so that we can take better care of ourselves, Meyer told the audience. When we de-stress, we begin putting fences up around our lives.
“You won’t ever get away from stress if you don’t change some things in your life,” Meyer said. She said it is compounded because we’ve developed an independent-attitude and won’t ask others to help us.
She added that stress can also be caused by procrastination or when we are not focused. When we procrastinate and put off making decisions, this can create even more stress in our lives than making the wrong decision, and starting again, she said. Additionally, when we fail to focus on one thing at a time, we can get overloaded and stressed. It’s better to choose quality over quantity, she said.
But what if you are like me and have a hard time decompressing? I’ve become so accustomed to juggling half a dozen things at one time, that I have a hard time just relaxing and being still. Stress has become a way of life for me. I can’t even have a relaxing vacation. I’m booking tours, making sure almost every waking moment is occupied. I have to see the sights. I have to discover. Although exhilarating, this leaves me feeling exhausted more often than not, and craving a vacation when I return from vacation.
My sister and I once took a trip to Hawaii. She told me she would be perfectly fine spending the week camped out on the beach, sipping Mai Tais and enjoying the lovely sounds of nature, but as scenic and beautiful as Hawaii was, that was too dull for me. So we booked a few of our days exploring Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Diamond Head Park, and feasted at a luau. I really wanted to do a helicopter ride, but my sister wasn’t up for it so I finally decided to chill out a bit and join her on the beach.
Reading my mom’s notes from the conference is a great reminder for me to always strive for balance. For every busy day, incorporate a light day. To think differently about down time. To sign up for another yoga class. To seriously consider turning my phone off more frequently, going to bed earlier, and taking more social media breaks to dial back life’s noise.
Moderation is key, but if you are an all-in personality like me, sometimes shutting down to refuel works best.