“Four Steps to Reduce Stress,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 71
When we feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, we can benefit by going to our Father in Heaven and asking for help to bear up under our many responsibilities. After praying for help, perhaps we can consider one of four approaches that may help us reduce our stress:
Prioritize. If we are trying to do too much, it is important to separate the cream from the milk by choosing only the best things to do. What those best things are will depend on individual circumstances and will vary from person to person. Our cream choices also change as we pass through different stages of life. A single parent may spend all his or her time working and caring for children, while an elderly single adult may spend much time working in the temple. It’s important to separate the essential from the nonessential. Essentials include rest, good food, prayer, exercise, Church callings and attendance, and scripture study.
Another way to separate ourselves from burdensome responsibilities is to take a break from our normal routines, even for only a short time. Such a break can take many forms: a half-hour nap, a walk, a game of basketball, or a family vacation.
Delegate. Sometimes our prayers may help us discover that our answer lies in delegating some of our responsibilities. We must ask for help from others when we really need it. An overburdened mother prayed for guidance, discussed her feelings with her husband, and then presented her concerns to the entire family during a family council meeting. The family divided up many of the evening chores, such as helping young children with baths, assisting with homework,cooking meals, and doing dishes. The companionship that resulted as the family members worked together proved invaluable, and the mother began to feel better.
In another family, the birth of a disabled baby girl quickly overwhelmed the parents’ resources. With the daily help of teams of Relief Society sisters, the child received physical therapy for many years. Facing unusual circumstances, these parents sought help with a portion of their responsibility, and in so doing, made their load manageable.
Eliminate. Another way to deal with too much stress is to eliminate some items from our to-do lists. Sometimes we just need to say no to others’ requests, even when there appears to be no one else to step in. One year our local elementary school could not find enough volunteers to hold the annual Halloween carnival. When the event was canceled, individual parents planned a number of small parties for their children.
Do it. There will be times when, through prayer, we realize we should neither prioritize, delegate, nor eliminate—we should just do it. When we feel we have Heavenly Father’s support to move ahead, despite feeling at times that we cannot handle one more task, we need to trust in Him and just do it, for “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Ne. 3:7).
As we honestly attempt to choose what is best, always asking for confirmation in prayer, Heavenly Father will lead us to the proper solution for our concerns. With the Lord’s help, we can use our time and talents wisely, bring balance into our lives, and find greater enjoyment in the many tasks before us.—Paula J. Lewis, Blanding, Utah