When you are under tremendous stress, and life feels like a pressure cooker, then it's time to stop and evaluate what's happening inside of you. Stress is like the red lights on the automobile dashboard. It indicates a warning that something under the hood needs attention.
Here are a few questions to consider when you feel the tension rising:
1) What symptoms indicate that I am stressed out?
2) What are the immediate and underlying causes of my tension? Often, the thing that is "stressing us out", is just a symptom and not the cause. Look beneath the immediate situation.
3) Am I living at a sustainable pace? Look back at your schedule over the past two weeks and ask yourself, "Is this sane?"
4) Do I have enough breathing room between events and responsibilities? If not, what can I eliminate from my life?
5) Is this temporary or permanent? Is there light at the end of the tunnel, or am I just digging a deeper hole?
6) Am I operating out of my delight, passion and giftedness? If not, is there a way to rearrange my duties to live more in the sweet spot?
7) What do those closest to me feel about the way I'm interacting with them?
8) How has stress impacted my relationships?
9) How important is this? Does it fit with my stated priorities? Ask yourself this question before agreeing to anything new.
10) What drains me? Where and when are energy leaks occurring? Can I do anything about that?
11) How am I doing spiritually? Is my soul well nourished? If not, what can I do to replenish?
12) Is there bitterness or resentment in my heart? Unresolved anger is a primary source of inner pressure.
13) Am I eating right? Poor nutrition and unhealthy stress are partners. People get crabby when they're not being fed.
14) Do I have a schedule of exercise? Physical exertion is a great way to reduce frustration and inner pressure.
15) Am I a praying person? Prayer builds faith, and faith reduces anxiety.
16) Am I getting enough sleep? With limited exceptions, humans require 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Fatigue makes troubles seem bigger than they are.
17) Are there relational conflicts that need resolution? Is there anything I can do about that? Am I humble and courageous enough to take the first step?
18) What do I do for fun? As the old saying goes, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
19) Am a taking time for sabbath? We are wired to rest on a regular basis. Take some time to stop working and rejuvenate and refresh your mind, body and soul.
20) Am I thankful? Gratitude and happiness are lifelong partners. You can't find one without the other.