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Bonnie Gray Christian Blog and Commentary

I Stress, Therefore I Am: 10 Ways To De-Stress

"When you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake." Victor Hugo

I Stress, Therefore I Am

One challenge nobody warned me about when I became starry eyed pregnant was how laundry would soon become a stumbling block. Literally. I walk by the hallway where our laundry baskets are lined up, and it looks like raccoons got into them. Two to be exact. One who just turned five and the other still in diapers acts like he already is. Some days I just give up. I’m never caught up anyways. The weekend comes and my pile has exploded into a mountain slide of socks, jeans and regret. I only wish I could go outside and play. Instead, I end up folding bibs, listening to the washer and dryer turn the house into a laundromat. Stress feels the same. I wake up and stress greets me, just like that pile of laundry. Sometimes, I walk right by and refuse to acknowledge it’s existence. It can’t touch me. Eventually, on a random moment, I’ll find myself trapped and surrounded by one anxious thought after another.

A Different Kind Of Stress

Can we ever be free from stress? Stress seems to be so embedded in our modern lives, we’ve come to breathe it like oxygen. Emails, Twitter, doctor appointments and a To Do list filled with growing unchecked boxes are all part of my reality. Is it realistic to expect a stress-free life? There was a season in my life I got fed up with the speed of everything. I reduced everything to a minimum. I did do less. But pairing down to the bare essentials made me lose a sense of wonder.

Introvert or extrovert, we were never made to only do life as maintenance. God designed us to be fully alive: creative, engaged with community and renewed by a sense of adventure.

Without these elements of creativity, adventure, community and soul care, we experience a different kind of stress. Soul stress. I did make a re-entry into the stream of new endeavors. It’s felt like stepping into the California rivers for whitewater rafting. Everything looks calm on the outside, but the underlying currents threaten to pull me under. Are we left to choose only between inactivity or over-activity?

As people of faith, our focus goes beyond avoiding stress.

We pursue the opposite.

We pursue rest.

Rest As Ambition

Rest. It sounds inactive, doesn’t it? I was surprised to find that rest is one of only three ambitions God explicitly calls out in the Bible. Turns out Hesuchazo — the Greek word used for “quiet” and “rest” – is as important as preaching the Gospel and pleasing God.

“…excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet (restful) life…” ~ Thessalonians 4:11

Ten Ways

I was so intrigued by the ambition to rest, I looked up Scriptures using Hescuchazo and categorized them into three buckets: creativity, adventure, community and soul care. 10 Ways To De-Stress & Enjoy Rest

{ Creativity }

1. Creative Exploration.  Take time out for God's art in you.   Engage in activity where you are free to be, without having to be functional or to judge how you are doing.

“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” Hebrews 4:10

2.  A Creative Whitespace Getaway. Stop from your daily routine to feed your soul. Enjoy a change of everyday scenery. Take the time to enjoy soulful places with Jesus.

“Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) ~ Jesus, Mark 6:31

{ Adventure }

3. Moving Things. Enjoy God in your new endeavors. That’s what Moses insisted. Time to leave and journey into a new chapter with God.

“My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” ~ God Ex. 33:14

4. The Wild Things. Enjoy the outdoors, soaking up nature. It brings our bodies and senses to rest.

“The whole earth is at rest and is quiet ; They break forth into shouts of joy.” Isaiah 14:7

5.  Choose Joy. Investigate a new direction for joy, inspired by God’s goodness, even if you’re afraid.

“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.” ~ God, Jer. 6:16

{ Community }

6.  The Real You. Seek out people where you can be your real self and laugh.

“Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord ; refresh (rest) my heart in Christ.” ~ Paul, Philemon 1:20

7.  In-the-Skin 1-on-1. Get together with a friend 1-on-1 and share the deep things happening in your life. Choose to risk open-heart vulnerability over safety.

“I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed (rest) through you.” ~ Paul, Philemon 1:7

{ Soul Care }

8. Body Rest. Signal your body to physically rest knowing Jesus will carry you through. Sleep is a soul journey, not a turn-key solution. 

“He enters into peace;  They rest in their beds, Each one who walked in his upright way. (Isa. 57:2)

9.  Quiet Rest. Enjoy intimately connecting with Jesus. Let go of the weight of guilt or the stress of what’s-next.

“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. ” Isaiah 30:15

10.  Heart Rest. Spend time with Jesus. Rest is a gift we receive by bringing all parts of ourselves to Jesus Then, turn around and offer that rest to others as your gift.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” ~Jesus Matt.11:28

One final rest inducing tip. Call a friend to come over and fold laundry together (or just gab on the phone). Brew a cup of coffee or tea. Drink slowly. Enjoy.

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Which of the Ten Ways to De-Stress would you enjoy the most right now?

Who can you share today's encouragement with?

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{Encourage a friend to nurture her heart with soul rest} Gift a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace & I’ll sign a bookmark to her. Details at bit.ly/whitespacemom

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind.  She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage, her work spotighted by Christianity Today and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

{photo credit: thanks to Sabrina who shared her beautiful #spiritualwhitespace moments on Instagram}

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