Patience and love help overcome stress in busy life

For some of us, stress in our lives begins from the moment we wake up until the moment our heads hit the pillow at night.

We rush to get ready for work.

You’d think we were in a sprint to get dressed. Not having the time to properly match clothes, we grab the first thing that looks close to being acceptable.

Next, we’re rushing to fix quick grits, frozen sausage and egg croissants, toasted pop-ups, and or instant single serving of coffee.

Of course the grits may have to be measured, as will the water we add to it. This takes time. The croissants have to be opened, wrapped in paper towels and not only cooked, but must first be defrosted.

Again, more time. The microwave seems to “nuke” items very slowly as we watch the seconds count down; and does anyone know how long the toaster actually takes to cook anything? Seems like watching grass grow when we’re in a hurry to get on the road! Finally, how much faster is it to make a single cup of coffee rather than a whole pot?

Think of how many times we’ve stressed ourselves just fixing a “quick” breakfast, and the day is just beginning! How much stress could we have relieved if only we had gotten up 10 minutes earlier and proceeded at a leisurely pace, patiently waiting for everything to complete? The key word here is patiently.

While ten minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, it can allow us to take a minute or two rest between each task, or have time to say a prayer, read an article, listen to the birds chirp or watch a sunrise.

Off to work we go and what happens? After two cars pull in front of us without signaling to change lanes and we exchange salutes, we then encounter our first traffic jam. Man, do we get tensed.

We wonder, “What’s the hold up? Will we get to work on time? Should we take an alternate route?” Wouldn’t it be a lot less stressful if we just chilled and not worried about the things we can’t control? We can sit patiently listening to some soft music and having a conversation with God.

The conversation doesn’t have to start with, “Why me?” but rather taking the time to give thanks that we have a job. Here is another place where another ten minutes could come into play. By leaving early, we reduce the extent of any late arrivals at work. On days we don’t need the extra minutes and arrive early, we build up “brownie points” with the boss or use them to plan our workload.

When we get to work, a dose of reality strikes us in the face. No matter how coolly we’ve managed the morning so far, it’s as if someone has yelled, “Fire” and all hell has broken loose.

It’s time to run like we’re on a fast moving treadmill, because it’s time to put out fires. The problem is that sometimes a coworker has cut the hose.

Now we can either enter into an adversarial relationship with him, causing increased stress in our lives or we can use the time to patiently defuse the situation by having an intelligent conversation leading to conflict resolution.

This can resemble a parent-to-adult-child talk where both parties behave in a manner respectful of each other’s opinions and in a “loving” way, remembering that “love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor 13:4). Patience and love are leading the way to stress reduction.

Finally we get back home. If at some point during the day we have failed to meet stress head on and defused it, then it’s a likelihood that it will affect the rest of our day.

The little things that wouldn’t normally bother us, all of a sudden become major thorns in our side; perhaps supper is a few minutes late, or someone has failed to put away some piece of clothing, or maybe we see some news on television we don’t like.

We begin to take out our frustrations on those around us.

Here is where St. Paul tells us how to get through the rest of the night: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love” (Col 3:12-14).


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