Today, I am stressed. I’m not sure why. I went to bed super early by my standards, at 10pm. Then, I woke up at 5am. I am trying really hard to maintain a consistent schedule and incorporate a morning routine, so I’m on the right track for the day. I should feel good about myself, right?! It’s only 7:30am and I have already folded some laundry, had my morning cup of coffee, and spent time reading my devotional and praying. So, why is it that I feel stressed? As I am writing this, my shoulders are tense and I can feel the knots forming. I also feel a canker sore forming on the inside of my cheek. Just knowing that makes me anxious, because it’s evidence that I’m stressed. Even when I have fooled myself into thinking I am calm, cool, and collected, my body is telling me otherwise.
What Is Causing My Stress?
School. I am starting a new semester and I have to read 4 books and write 3 papers over the next 1.5 weeks. Just thinking about it overwhelms me and makes me tense. Earlier today, when I grabbed the stack of books to put on my coffee table, it was like my shoulders got closer and closer to my ears.
Today is my day off, but I feel like I have a million things to do. I need to start reading, but I also need to run to the grocery store, iron my hubby’s clothes, and prep for dinner. That is only the beginning of my to-do list.
What is the Real Issue?
I feel guilty because I have procrastinated. I feel overwhelmed because I should have started reading these books weeks ago. But I didn’t because I was avoiding it. I’m a procrastinator because I’m a perfectionist… It took me a long time to figure out that I am a perfectionist because I feel like everything I do is so far from perfect! The reality is that I want everything to be done right, or a certain way, or to get the best score or result…and I really fear that is not going to happen. Consequently, I avoid, avoid, avoid, which looks like procrastination. For awhile, my husband just thought I was lazy. I started to think I was! It didn’t make sense to me because I know I’m not a lazy person…but for some reason, I couldn’t get myself to do the things I needed to do!
At the end of the day, it all leads to my fear of failure. When I grab those books – in my mind, I’m anticipating failure and it freaks me out. I’m thinking about how I don’t have enough time to read all these books and write the papers. Somehow, my mind has convinced me this is impossible, and as a result, my papers won’t be any good and I will fail.
For those of you who are also struggling with procrastination, perfectionism, and fear of failure, I recommend you check out Smart-Twenties. She talks a lot about these issues. After reading some of her posts and going through her 7-day Challenge, I realized that feeling of being overwhelmed is not unique to me. Also, apparently, list-making, nice stationary and pens, is characteristic of perfectionists! Who knew?!
How to Deal with Stress
This may not be the best way to deal with stress, but I will describe my natural process.
- Ready daily devotional and pray. Normally, God gives me clarity and keeps me grounded. For some reason, I don’t feel settled today after my quiet time.
- So, my next strategy is to try and massage the knots out of my shoulder. I feel them loosen up a little.
- Turn on the oil diffuser and put in some Stress relief oil. That helps and I feel the tension in my shoulders loosen up some more.
- I start writing this blog post as a means to: 1.) write something for the day (past of my to-do list), 2.) avoid reading, and 3.) to process why I’m so stressed! The fourth strategy is to process and understand the real reason I am stressed.
- Step five – Spend time in prayer and submit this to God, confessing how I am letting my fear of failure take over me, and ask him to take control of the situation.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
I know that fear of failure is not the spirit of God. Fear does not come from God.
“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear. For fear, has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” -I John 4:18
Fear has to do with punishment. But, I know that God is not going to punish me for failing. I might fail, and there might be natural consequences of failing…he may discipline me, but God is not going to punish me. AND, he will use even my failure for my good.
“And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who called according to his purposes.” – Romans 8:28
How to Prevent Stress
In order to prevent stress, I need to get ahead of the game. Instead of avoiding tasks I dread, I need to work at them a little each day. This is really hard for me, since I associate the task with failure. After I finish writing this post, I commit to reading for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Once I start, I think I will realize that I actually enjoy the book and then forget about how I am anticipating failing.
What are some things you get stressed about? How do you deal with it?