I am sitting in the airport listening to people on their cell phones, overhead announcements, and high heels clicking in a marathon rhythm. How they walk in those things, I have no idea. There is hustle and bustle as people search for people, or figure out where they need to be. I arrived early to fetch my husband from his Alaska fishing trip. It is his second trip from his employer, and he was thrilled. He explained to be out there fishing is similar to my time on a beach. Which means release, peace, and refresh.
I spent the week hustling myself. It is the time of year where churches around the nation take part in Vacation Bible School, and we have 116 kids pre-registered. All week our teens have been decorating hallways and classrooms. I arranged classes, name badges, check in lists, allergy lists; and still had to complete the weekly bulletin, announcements, music list, and the other church stuff that comes up during a typical week. Tomorrow, there’s a memorial service. It should be interesting with the decorated hallways.
After next week, things will fall quiet for the summer. This is my routine, and I love it. After five years of managing a church, the steady and consistent layers of my year are welcome and appreciated. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Prior to deciding to work for a church, I was the executive assistant to the director for the world’s largest animal sanctuary- The Wild Animal Sanctuary. I loved my job! In the midst of my routine, came sudden emergencies that involved the life of our beautiful carnivores. A rescue across the state, the country, or across the world. There was urgency and deep emotion as every second mattered. Documents must be perfect, airline regulations must be met, and someone always needed more documentation and more t’s crossed. There were fundraisers, and supporter events. There was education to the young and old. I loved the excitement of knowing another animal was saved from a circus, backyard, or roadside zoo. But I got tired, and my health began to change. When that happened, I left that very distinguished position for an equally distinguished position, working for the Lord.
Making these life decisions can be difficult. Who wants to give up their dream job? I spent my days among lions roaring with joy! I experienced watching them take their first step onto soft wild grass after a lifetime of walking in nothing but cold concrete. It was the hardest decision of my life. With impending biopsies in my near future, and other changes I noticed, it was the responsible thing to do. What one wants and what they need do not always align.
Stress also became a significant health issue at this time. My body began physically reacting to this pest of a problem. It eventually escalated and is now a daily health issue I battle. The slightest increase in stress opens a can of health related issues. I manage my response the best I can, but this is a lifetime problem.
Being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse started my stress responses, marriage issues, a late Bipolar diagnosis, teenager mishaps, and adult children making bad choices have all contributed to the constant force of stress against my life. I have a treasure box of aides and remedies, but as the years go by, they help less. I am out of magic tricks. The last time I encountered a significant stress inducing problem, I passed out in the halls of urgent care with heart palpitations, insane blood pressure, and an off the charts glucose test.
This week, as the chaos began at work, I intentionally came to a halt at home. There was no rush to vacuum, dust, garden, or even shop for food. I stopped on my way home if I felt like it. I relaxed, read, watched TV, took naps and long hot baths! Today is Friday (I started writing this on Thursday), and I feel great! The one thing at the church which causes me stress is a funeral service, but today I feel at ease.
We have to learn to take care of ourselves. The world beats us up. If we don’t prepare with boxing gloves and hands up, we are going to be knocked out. Choose to make the hard choices. Consider the pros and cons, learn reaction verses action techniques. Stop and breathe!
Maintaining mental health requires we maintain our physical health, and stress reduction is a large part of the problem.
How do you react when stress increases?