We all know how a negative life view can keep us trapped, fearful, and stuck with choices that ruin any opportunity we might have for success. Let’s look at one way we can turn an attitude of defeat and despair into hope, energy, and confidence. Make an effort to clean house emotionally, and use these six “brooms” to sweep your emotional house from stress and self-defeating attitudes:
- Learn to relax. Often just thirty seconds of quiet, deep breathing, and prayer can give you the stamina you need to carry on with your day’s work. I do this several times a day and I invite you to do the same. Make relaxing one of your major priorities. If you need to write relax in your daily planner, do it, and do it often. Take whatever steps are necessary to slow down your busy life and you’ll discover it will help you gain a new perspective on what is important.
- Don’t be afraid to cry. I have a cartoon in which a little boy is counseling his dog. The child says, “When you feel sad, you get a little gray clouds inside your brain. When rain falls from those clouds, your head fills with water. That’s where tears come from.” Regardless of where your tears come from, let them come — whether you are a man or a woman. Crying is one of the ways God created for ridding the body of stress, through the outlet of tears. Over the years I’ve discovered that it actually takes a stronger person to cry than not to cry. Don’t deny yourself this natural, drug-free opportunity to alleviate stress and exhaustion.
- Give up perfectionism and admit to being human. If you want to stay perpetually self-defeated, then demand perfection of yourself. You’ll make yourself absolutely miserable. Recognizing you are not perfect does not mean you’ve thrown away your standards. It does not mean you refuse to be paralyzed when life doesn’t move according to your rhythm or plan.
- Do less. Most of us simply try to cram too many activities into a finite number of hours. You don’t need to see every movie, go to every sale, sign up for every class (for yourself or for your children), be on every committee at church, and bowl every Thursday night. Make a list of all your activities. Then indicate after each item: must do, sort of important, or can be put on hold. Then use this list to determine which activities you can drop from your hectic schedule. If you don’t take control of your activities, they will continue to rule your life, make you weak, and keep you emotionally exhausted. This concept can also apply to our vacations. Leave the cellular phone at home, and don’t check your email. Don’t pack your vacation with so many activities that you need to come home just to revive your worn-out spirits.
- Adopt a pet. You probably didn’t think I’d put this one on the list, but I now am beginning to fully understand how important loving an animal can be in reducing stress. Yes, they get fleas, slobber all over, chew on or scratch your furniture, and mess up your carpet, but these are small prices to pay if you want an in-house, faithful, relatively low maintenance, cost-effective stress buster.
- Clean up the clutter and make a master list. Most people seem to spend half their time looking for things in the midst of clutter, saying, “I know it’s here someplace. Just give me a couple minutes, and I’ll find it.” Trouble is, those minutes add up to hours and days and weeks and eventually months of frustration. Clutter has the power to wear you down and make you weak. So I encourage you to clean your desk, tidy your room, organize the trunk of your car. As you remove the clutter, you’ll begin to realize the joys of a better organized life. Now you can also remove the clutter from your schedule. Make a master list of what you really need to do. Put it on your computer and refer to it regularly.
Work to implement these six steps, and remind yourself that God did not make you to live in frustration and defeat. He created you to sing his praises even in the center of some of the greatest storms.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 30 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.