I stepped into a sea of people rushing past me to catch their flights, while others pushed around me with their rolling carry-ons headed to baggage claim.
I disembarked the plane feeling stressed but reassured myself I had plenty of time to get to my speaking engagement. Instead of finding somewhere to eat lunch – what I should’ve done because my tummy was growling – I sat down in the terminal to work on “urgent” emails. I chose to check off meeting someone else’s expectations instead of taking care of my own well-being.
I had arrived at Gate #6, so I figured I was close to baggage claim. But standing on the moving sidewalk later, I noticed the gate numbers were climbing higher, not lower.
Sweat started pouring out as I broke into a fast walk, then a galloping trot, as the escalating gate numbers seemed endless! Anxiety skyrocketed when I saw a sign: 10-Minute Walk to the Airport Tram. What? A tram?!
I forgot this airport had many, many terminals. I was beyond starving and now I was crunched for time. My hyperfocus on getting something done for everyone else distracted me from my heart’s true mission that day and what I was truly excited and energized about – meeting new friends and creating wonderful memories of encouragement together.
I’m curious, do you often pay attention to the feelings of others, but easily neglect your own wellbeing? And if something goes wrong — whether in the lives of your kids, family, work, ministry, or friends — do you feel you’re the one responsible to pick up the pieces and shoulder their burdens?
If yes, you’re like me and most women! Studies show that women suffer from burnout more than men due to being “overly-responsible.” So how do we address burnout? How do we avoid being overly-responsible and take steps towards the things that give us life and lift us up, so we can pour out to those we love without wearing ourselves out?
It’s like the instructions we receive when we fly. Put on our own oxygen mask first, before helping others around you.
To combat burnout, we need to make more space for God to pour His peace into our lives, which will renew our spark of joy again! But how, you ask?
Here’s the myth: We try to feel better by thinking our way out of stress. (triggers stress)
The truth is: We have to nurture our way out of stress with God’s peace. (relieves stress)
Let me explain. Did you know there are two types of anxiety: left brain and right brain anxiety?
The left brain is where we problem solve. It’s the logic part of our brain, where we experience anxiety called “anxious apprehension.” This is when we hyperfocus trying to solve some problem and start worrying too much. It results in overthinking about problems we encounter.
The right brain is what we call the emotional part of our brain – the feeling part of where we experience panic, sadness, or fear – called “anxious arousal.” This is when we are overwhelmed by our emotions. The right brain is also where we enjoy creative hobbies. Our auditory sense lights up when we enjoying music, our visual sense is stimulated when we appreciate art, and our tactile senses engage when we garden, knit, or play an instrument. These types of activity result in relieving stress.
Guess which part of the brain – right or left – has been proven most effective to lower stress and anxiety, and lift depression? It’s not the left brain. It’s the right brain that God designed to most powerfully activate our body’s rest response.
Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Notice the order: we receive comfort from God first, and then we can offer it to others — like a flowing river provides life from the rain it first receives from heaven.
As loving women, we’re constantly needing to comfort others around us as they share their frustration, anger, or a myriad of negative emotions. We act like shock absorbers, absorbing the stress of others.
But, God didn’t create you to simply be a shock absorber for others; God created you to flourish with joy as His beloved. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). Before we can be there for others, we need to receive the comfort and joy God has for us.
So, take action today to nurture your way out of stress – to release your anxiety and worry to God — and prioritize time to do what gives you joy!
You are worth it. You are God’s beloved.
What’s something nurturing you enjoy that helps release stress and renew you with God’s peace?
Take this FREE “Soul Care Quiz” to learn what type of care you need most to lower stress and spark God’s peace and joy in your life! Find more encouragement in Bonnie’s beautiful new book Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm.
The (in)courage podcast is taking a brief hiatus from new episodes this week as we do some maintenance and updating behind the scenes! We’ll return to new daily episodes next week, starting March 13th. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy five episodes from our podcast archives!
Today’s replay is from July 2022. It’s an excerpt from our Take Heart devotional, written by Mary Carver and titled If You Feel Like You Take Up Too Much Space. Listen below, or wherever you stream podcasts.Leave a Comment