This afternoon I attended a session at the ACLEA conference I am at that was titled “Put Your Oxygen Mask on First.” It was all about taking care of oneself so that we reduce our stress and can then be available to accomplish those things we are called to do and to care for those people we are called to care for. This requires some sort of balance in one’s life.
With audience input, we came up with a definition of balance: “Prioritize things that matter most. Live according to your priorities.”
At the beginning of the session the speaker asked what movies, songs, quotes, or other things people used to reduce their stress. My answer, which he asked me to repeat into the microphone, was to remember Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God.” This is my go-to quote when I feel stressed.
For me, my priorities are spending time with God and in the Word, spending time with and taking care of my family, taking care of my dog, giving my best when I am at work (but leaving work at the office), giving back to others the blessings that I have received, and staying healthy so I can do all of those things.
As I pondered the goal the speaker set before us—to do one thing differently—I actually came up with several things that I want to do in order to live according to my priorities.
- Almost two years ago, I decided I wanted to read the entire Bible again, but in the New Living Translation this time. As I survey in my mind the checklist of verses to be read in a year, realizing it’s been almost two since I vowed to read His Word each day, I see there are many checkmarks but there are also many chapters remaining to read tomorrow and each day. One thing I could do differently is to get back on track with my daily reading schedule.
- Something that always makes me feel better is to take my little dog Roman for a walk. It’s good exercise for both of us. I often see him nose his leash and I see the tennis balls lined up on the windowsill where he looks out onto the world. But I seldom take him for a walk. One thing I could do differently is to take Roman for a walk every day after work, even if it’s just a short walk.
- There are some songs that just make me want to dance, and I do love to dance, but I don’t do it very often. It is great exercise and always lifts my spirits. When I was younger I used to dance all the time. One thing I could do differently is to turn on music and dance a little while I’m making dinner several times per week.
- At work, my office is on the third floor. I know it’s only two flights of stairs to get there, but for some reason in the morning I’ve developed the habit of taking the elevator (even though it drives me nuts when it is so slow). I use the excuse that I’m carrying things, but it’s not really a very good reason to ride the elevator instead of climbing the stairs. Considering I sit most of the day for my job, taking the stairs in the morning would be really good for me. One thing I could do differently is to take the stairs up to my office each morning even if it does leave me out of breath.
So there are, not just one, but four things that I could do differently to reduce my stress level and help me live my priorities without feeling burned out by all that I have to do. What are your priorities and what could you do differently to live your priorities?