A note from Kelly King: I can still remember my first summer after college and realizing that summer breaks were a thing of the past. It was a little disheartening to realize that if I still wanted to get paid, I had to show up at work. My expectations for summer changed quite a bit, even though I still plan for some time off. How about you? Do your summer expectations sometimes fall short or leave you more stressed than before? Even if you’re enjoying some time off, there might be new summer stresses. In today’s article, Kaye Hurta gives us some practical ways to handle even the stresses that come during this time of year. By the way, Kaye will be teaching at our upcoming You Lead event in Eugene, Oregon. Click here to find out more!
One of my favorite Disney movies is Frozen. One of my favorite songs from Frozen is Olaf’s “In Summer.” If you have not seen the movie or heard the song, please look it up now and watch it.
The jist is this: Olaf is a snowman dreaming about and longing for summer. He sings, “When life gets rough, I like to hold on to my dream of relaxing in the summer sun, just lettin’ off steam.”
For some, summer is just that—relaxing in the summer sun, happy-go-lucky, stress free days.
For others, summer is anything but stress free. Summer stress can sneak up on you unexpectedly against the backdrop of sunny days, cool pool waters, and backyard cook-outs.
There is added stress from kids being home from school, creating child-care difficulties for working moms, families are transitioning to new towns with new jobs and new schools, and more. I’m wondering what summer holds for you. Already for me it is proving to be quite stressful. In these moments I find myself hitting the refresh button in my soul on how to successfully tackle summer’s stress.
Here are 4 ways to tackle summer stress:
- Get moving. Getting regular exercise is by far the best way to manage stress in any season. If you live in a colder climate, then getting out for a summer walk is a life-affirming invitation for your soul. Don’t think of it as weight management (that will take the fun out of it). Just walk, run, bike, swim—whatever you prefer. My favorite thing to do to manage stress is to prayer walk. I lace up the tennis shoes, grab my Scripture memory cards, and pray my way through them!
- Just breathe. I have a t-shirt from a LifeWay event that says, “Just Breathe.” Whenever I wear it, someone always comments, “Good reminder.” One would think we don’t need to be reminded to breathe, but we do, especially when we are under stress. Take a moment and practice deep breathing. Breathe in slowly for a count of 7, hold it for 4, and release it to a count of 7. Do this for 3-5 minutes.
- Eat foods that are nutritionally sound. That’s code for “Don’t eat junk or sugar.” It feels disingenuous to write this because last night under stress I ate a bag of Peanut M&M’s. It only helped for a nanosecond. Healthy foods are healing; there is too much available research to say otherwise.
- Create margin in your week. This idea did not originate with me; it is actually a command from God! We were created to sabbath, to rest, to play, to unplug. If you do not currently have a regular rhythm of rest, perhaps you would consider giving it a try. Rest reduces stress. The Message version of the Bible says it nicely; listen to Matthew 11:28-30: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I feel less stressful just reading it, don’t you?
Father, teach us what it looks like in our stress to come to You, walk with You, and work with You. Teach us the unforced rhythms of grace and may we learn to live freely and lightly. Amen.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.