When I'm Overwhelmed - Elisabeth Klein

I recently journaled twenty-five things that are wrong in my life right now, that are weighing heavily on my heart and mind and making me feel overwhelmed.

I’m in my 40s and I still sometimes scramble, not really knowing what to do when life sends these things, one right after another, one on top of another.

So I looked at this list of mine and I read each burden again, but this time through the lens of the Serenity Prayer, one of the many gifts I gained from being a part of AlAnon for almost two years several years back.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

And I asked myself this question for each problem I had jotted down: which of these things can I pray about, and which of these can I pray about AND take some kind of action to improve?

Only seven of the items on my list can I do anything about. So I will. I will take a look at those seven things after a good night’s rest, with a fresh mind, and try to figure out a step or two I can take. I know myself enough to know that when I take even small actions on a problem, it begins to lose its overwhelming-ness over me.

But the rest are not in my power to change in any way. The other eighteen things on my list are out of my hands.

So for those, those I have to give up to God and ask for his help, his wisdom, his intervention, and his mercy in the waiting, for his tenderness towards me and my tenderness towards those around me (because I can be irritable when I’m in freak-out mode).

And then I read a few Psalms. And they reminded me of God’s goodness and faithfulness and presence and provision.
And I made myself come up with an equal number of gratitudes. Because there is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
And I cried. Because I cry sometimes when I’m stressed.
And I took a bath. Because that always relaxes me.
And I texted my friends because they always get it, they always get me.
And I went to bed early because I know myself well enough to know that sleep is one of the best things I can do for myself.
And I spent time with my counselor, because he not only is full of wisdom but has a calming presence that helps me recalibrate. (He, by the way, reminded me that if I feel like the weight of this is all too much…more than the average life-is-hard kinda stretch…that I am carrying more than I should be, something my mentor says as well.)

Now, these little things aren’t magic bullets. I don’t feel instantly better after I’ve done all this, but it helps a bit. It helps the problems feel smaller. It puts things in perspective. It reminds me that I’ve been through hard things before and I always make it through. And that I’ll go through other hard stretches in the future and I’ll make it through those too.

What’s on your list, and more importantly, what can you do to handle the stress better today?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33