How do we manage life without feeling overwhelmed? How do avoid feeling like life is this huge responsibility to fulfill? How do avoid perpetual anxiety over all that needs to be done? How do we make relationship primary?
As it relates to these questions, I’ve had a weird week. I have had the house to myself while my wife and five kids spending time with grandparents – a house to myself. I would think it would be really simple…and it is….compared to the typical Rhoads’ crazy normal.
However, this morning I woke up stressed with my mind racing. I got up and, within the first 50 minutes, this is what I did….
- Showered and got ready to work
- Turned on the heat lamps for my daughter’s bearded dragon, Caesar
- Fed and took care the stray cat Hazel
- Fed Lucy the dog and took her outside;
- Watered the plants
- Made the bed and organized ten pillows on it
- Made coffee
- Emptied and loaded the dishwasher
- Got my watch out of my pocket in the laundry so it wouldn’t get washed
- Emptied the de-humidifier
- Drove to work for my first morning meeting
We can’t avoid the reality of all there is to do. The dog, cat, and Caesar like to eat. The plants will die without water. The dishwasher won’t empty itself.
It all seems tough to navigate. But, let's listen to five pieces of advice that can bring more joy and life to your everyday activities.
#1 Slow down.
We need to slow life down. Make it such that you aren’t rushing to complete everything in a short period of time. Make it such that we are at a slower pace enjoying each activity. Take this morning. If I had gone to bed earlier and woken up earlier, I could have done these tasks without being stressed and rushing. If something takes thirty minutes, give yourself an hour to do it.
Really work on simplification. I am not sure that us having a cat, a dog, a bearded dragon, fish, and plants to be watered are all necessary additions. Caesar is cool, but he is one large, scary-looking and time-consuming reptile. Always be on the look-out for ways to simplify life. Less stuff. Less activities. Less on the schedule.
Take one day a week to stop working to enjoy Jesus and one another. If you had one day to really look forward to, my guess is the other six days would be much more tolerable.
#4 Authentic friendship.
A friend of mine is a counselor. He says that a key to spiritual and emotional health is authentic and vulnerable friendships. So, make sure you have friends you talk to regularly, and, SHARE! Tell them your struggles, your relationship stresses, and what you are excited about. There is something therapeutic about letting others really know you.
#5 Limit information.
Presently, our brains are overwhelmed with stimulation and information. News, social media, texts, e-mails…we have so much to process all the time. Don’t check your phone regularly. Limit your access to the news and social media. It will likely take lessening the stimulation of the brain for the brain to feel more settled.
I know I said five ideas, but for those with kids, we’ll give one bonus idea.
Spread the work around the family. It’ll make your life easier and will prepare your children better for life. We are guilty of doing too much and asking too little of our children. Spread the love and spread the work!
The five practices above (and the bonus) are just ways to make space to enjoy Jesus and one another. Unfortunately, for many, refreshing relationships are the casualty of a frenetic and hurried life. Scripture tells us not to be conformed to the patterns of the world. Let’s do life differently.
So, as you move into the weekend and next week, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I too rushed? How can I slow life down?
- What are some specific ways I can simplify my life?
- How can I start a weekly sabbath rhythm?
- Am I connecting deeply on at least a weekly basis with a good friend?
- Am I looking at my phone, email and the internet too much? How can I limit my information intake to avoid information overload?
Brad Rhoads is Co-Founder of Grace Marriage and this article is part of a monthly column Brad writes for the Messenger-Inquirer Newspaper.