3 Steps to Remain Balanced When You're Overwhelmed.

It was this week a year ago.  I was drowning in stress.  

Every where I turned there was newness.  New relationships, expectations, degree, and job. All that newness was accompanied by an unending list of urgent tasks.  

For example, before we could mail our first batch of letters to potential ministry partners we had to learn what to write, purchase the supplies, create the letterhead, print the return address labels, get professional photos, and find a company to lay out our brochures and print them for us. That doesn't even count making the list of who to send the letter to and getting their addresses.  That's a lot of work to print and mail a letter! 

Imagine that newness and urgency in every area of your life for every moment of your day.

That's what the first term can be like for a missionary.  Filled with newness and urgency, what begins as exhilarating quickly becomes exhausting. It can all be too much.

In such seasons it becomes very easy to lose our equilibrium--to lose our balance.  I had more than one tear-drenched moment of doubt and panic last fall.

The stress support scale helped me regain my equilibrium and recover my resiliency.  I'm grateful to Lois Dodds for sharing this concept with me, and I'm excited to pass it on to you.

I've adapted it into a conversation you can have with your spouse or close friend, or in your journal.  Here are the steps:

Step 1:  Write down the stressors and supports that are impacting you during this season of your life.  Circle 1-3 of each that you would like to discuss further. For our purposes, think about stressors broadly as anything that drains you and supports as anything that renews you.

Step 2:  Share the circled stressors and supports with your spouse.  Their goal is to listen well, not trying to "fix it" or take it on. It's like showing your spouse your backpack of stressors and support, and they just acknowledge what you're carrying.  Switch roles.

Step 3: Have your spouse ask you the following questions:

  1. What is the minimum effort that will get you the needed result for your most pressing stressors?  For your key supports?
  2. What is one thing I'm currently doing that is helping you manage?
  3. Is there one thing I could begin doing that would be supportive? 
  4. Overall, does this seem balanced, like there is enough support for this amount of stress?  If not, what stressors can you remove?  What supports can you add?  Can you give less effort to anything?  Can you postpone anything?
  5. Would you like to know what I think?
  6. Switch roles.

Sometimes we can't simply remove stressors to regain equilibrium--this is especially true in transition.  But we can add extra support and that can make the difference.  

In the comments, share what some of your supports are.  What renews you when you're overwhelmed?