April is National Stress Awareness month, which began in 1992 to draw attention to the health risks associated with stress and strategies for coping with it. Think of all the roles that women play in an average day. We are mothers, daughters, wives, friends, cooks, maids, chauffeurs, doctors and negotiators. No matter where we turn—home, the job, church—there is work to be done. As busy, multi–tasking women, our lives can be filled with stress.
- Have the women take a stress test and consider their main stressors. The Homes–Rahe Life Stress Inventory can be found at: https://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory/
- Talk about the physical, emotional and behavioral effects of stress. Invite a physician or nurse to share their knowledge and experience on this topic. Some effects of stress are listed below. More information is available at mayoclinic.org or stress.org.
- Stress affects one’s body, emotions and behavior.
- Physical signs of stress include headache, muscle tension, chest pain, tiredness, digestive issues and insomnia. If stress continues for a long period of time, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
- Emotional signs of stress include anxiety, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, a lack of motivation and depression.
- Behavioral signs of stress include over or undereating, responding to situations rashly, withdrawing from friends and family and a decrease in activity level.
- Share with the women these common strategies for reducing and relieving stress. A reinforcing verse of Scripture is listed beside each strategy.
- Get healthy: A healthy diet, regular exercise and a good night’s sleep prepare your body for stress and help reduce it. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.
- Live in the present: Don’t dwell on the past or fret about the future. Focus on the present. Matthew 6:34.
- Stay connected to God: Throughout the day, whether you’re doing dishes, folding laundry, handling a crisis at work, or leading children’s church, keep your heart and mind focused on God. Colossians 3:17.
- Take some time out: Take a few minutes each day to meditate on the Lord and listen to Him. Take some time each week to do something you enjoy. Psalm 46:10.
- Have women brainstorm ways to reduce or relieve stress in their own lives. What works for them? Make sure to keep it practical and fun. For example: a coffee date with Jesus, dinner with friends, hiking, journaling, painting, or playing music. Challenge the women to make time this week to do at least one of the stress–relievers they listed.
Reinforcement Activity: Create a prayer or quiet time journal
- Supplies Needed: 1 sketchpad for each woman, 1 piece of cardstock, glue sticks, markers, colored pencils.
- Directions: 1. Select a sketchpad. 2. Glue a piece of cardstock onto the cover of the sketchpad. 3. Design your cover, using the colored pencils and markers. 4. Decorate the inside pages as desired. 5. After your journal is finished, spend a few minutes with the Lord and make your first entry.
“Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)
Women are the ultimate marathoners. From the time we wake up in the morning until the time we go to sleep, we are running. We are constantly concerned with not just our own needs, but also those of our spouses, children, grandchildren, parents and even friends. We may feel as if we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Amid the busyness and stress of our lives, how can we possibly find time to be still before God?
I used to imagine a perfect time and place where I could have my perfect quiet time with God. I found myself frustrated because that fantasy was not reality; my perfect time and place were interrupted by work obligations, other people’s personal crises and my own family’s needs. I found myself again asking, “How can I be still amid the chaos of my everyday life?”
We can learn a lot from the familiar story of Martha and Mary. When Jesus came to their house Martha was busy with all the preparations and work to do for the visit. Mary, on the other hand, sat at Jesus feet, listening intently. Martha, frustrated with her sister said, “Lord, tell her to help me.” Jesus said to her, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
There is no perfect time or perfect place for our perfect quiet time with God. The work will never end, but we can choose what is best. Despite the chaos, we can choose to sit at Jesus’ feet. We can choose to spend time with the Lord first. Then the dinner will get cooked, the bills with get paid and the house will get cleaned. The perfect time is now. The perfect place is here. Be still and know that He is God!