This week, at the request of my mentor, I’ve been reading a book called Adrenaline and Stress, by Dr. Archibald D. Hart. Because of the recent events in our lives at the Armstrong home, we’ve all been feeling a greater deal of stress, and the truth is, I’ve never learned to manage stress well.
I always thought that I was immune to stress. That I could handle it, because, well, “I’m a man.”
Stress “helped” me function. It made me more productive. For five years, I worked a job with extreme deadlines and unrealistic expectations. 60 hour weeks were the norm. And I could do it. When I left there, I didn’t know quite what to do with myself at Compassion, because I didn’t have the enormous workload. I was actually stressed about not having anything to do. Now, the opposite is the case. But here’s the thing: I have a great deal of trouble relaxing. I don’t vacation well. I don’t know how to take time off. And I don’t sleep much or well.
The last time I took a real vacation, where I actually relaxed was my honeymoon, three years ago. I normally take time off to catch up on the things I don’t have time to do otherwise, like painting the house.
I rarely take a sick day, even when I’m sick, which is the case for many people. When I worked hourly jobs, I couldn’t relax and get better because I was stressing about how much money I was losing by being at home. So I would just go, go, go. Today, whenever I start getting sick, I decide I’m just going to be awesome instead and keep going.
Until I eventually crack.
What I’m learning is that if I continue to do that, I’ll end up meeting Jesus probably before I’m 45, and I’d much prefer to be able to walk my little girl down the aisle before that.
This is why God created the Sabbath. Why in the created order, there is the mandate to rest. God rested on the seventh day, not because He tuckered Himself out and needed a nap, but because He was modelling the proper order for us. This is why Jesus told us that, “The Sabbath was created for man…” (Mark 2:27a)
So, I am going to start taking time off. We’re going to a cottage in Grand Bend with my in-laws at the end of June, and I’m hoping I’m going to be able to relax there (not because I find my in-laws stressful, but because I try to fit too much into my day consistently). I’m going to take my sick days when I need them.
And I’m actually starting to have a regular bedtime. Every night for the last week, I’ve been making sure to be in bed no later than 10:30, and, with the exception of a couple of really hard nights, I’ve been starting to sleep well and for more than 5-6 hours.
Stress is good sometimes, and even necessary. No one can live a stress-free life. But, if we cannot manage our stress, it will kill us. So let’s start managing it before it’s too late.