Did you know that since 1992, April is recognized as Stress Awareness Month? “Stress” is one of those words like “tired” and “depressed” that are common descriptors but serious conditions and should be not be taken lightly.
These are conditions that can be difficult to resolve since they are broad, and many times they are made of up layers. I’m no psychologist, just a gardener, but I do know this: the steps to solving any problem are always the same. First you must identify it; then you must be able to accurately define it, and finally, you need to develop a plan to deal with it.
According to a recent Gallup poll: “2020 was officially the most stressful year in recent history, with a record-high 40 percent of adults worldwide saying they experienced a lot of stress the previous day. This five-percentage-point jump from 35 percent in 2019 represents nearly 190 million more people globally who experienced a lot of stress.”
When Gallup asked the participants to define stress, here is what they said, “Generally, they explained it as a negative emotion, using words such as “problems,” “difficult,” “anger,” “bad” and “anxious.” However, people also said words like “overthinking,” “boredom,” “powerlessness” and “aging.”
Read full report here.
Considering this, I’m taken back to the lessons of one of my college Sunday school teachers. She used to tell us that we shouldn’t go around saying that we were stressed, tired and depressed all of the time. Instead, determine WHY we felt that way and ask God to intervene. She suggested that we every time we were going to use one of those three words that we replace it with positive words that showed how God was helping us deal with that issue and change the narrative.
It may sound silly, and I’m not downplaying the seriousness of these conditions. But can you imagine the positive impact on our lives if we would shift our thinking to truly believe that we are blessed (not stressed) because our God, Whom we serve, is able to do immeasurable more than we could ask or imagine and is in total control (Eph. 3:20-21).
Can you see how it makes sense to follow the words of, “I’m tired” with “I need to go to bed earlier and rest more”? It stops our blame shifting and places the responsibility in our own hands to care for the earthly bodies that God so wonderfully created for us (Phil. 4:13).
It’s very difficult to be depressed when you’re looking into the eyes of Jesus. You see His sacrifice on the cross and realize the scope of His love. Literally, earthly concerns melt at the foot of the cross (John 3:16).
God wants each of us to not only be physically healthy but mentally, emotionally and spiritually whole. Everyone must find their own ways of doing this, and for me it’s in the garden with the bugs, the berries and hummingbirds—and even with the wind.
The garden may not be your spot, but I hope that you find a spot. A spot that is quiet and beautiful and living. A place where God meets with you and you develop a friendship with Him. A spot where you can change your vocabulary to blessed, rested and joyful.
As Americans, we have an insatiable desire for things. We feel like if we’re moving we’re going somewhere. Let me encourage you to slow down, appreciate what you have and just be. Silence the voice for more and simplify.
“Learn to like what does not cost much. Learn to like reading, conversation and music. Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking. Learn to like people, even those who may be very different from you. Learn to shelter your family with love, comfort and peace. Learn to keep your wants simple. Refuse to be owned and anchored by things and opinions of others. Learn to like the sunrise and the sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, the gentle fall of snow in the winter. Learn to hold heaven near and dear. Learn to love God for He surely loves you.” Anonymous
“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has dealt generously with you” (Psalm 116:7).