Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stress is deadly

Recently we packed up our life, got in our van, and moved to Lititz Pennsylvania where I have taken the role of Executive Pastor at the Lancaster Evangelical Free Church. Generally I am a guy who does not "stress out" and is, in fact, pretty good at knowing when to shut down and blow off stress to keep my life balanced.

A quick google search of the top five causes of stress led me to this article which identifies five points. Lets go over them:

1. Financial Problems - We are doing ok, but having a house in California that has not sold yet while needing to add the cost of living in Pennsylvania plus having a lower salary than before, well, lets just say that there might be a TINY LITTLE BIT of stress here.

2. Workplace Stress - I believe that I finished well, very well, at HDC. I didn't coast to the finish line, I collapsed over it. That's great for my work ethic, but not so good for the stress-o-meter. Add to that the stress of starting a new job, which is huge, and well, I think we are two for two so far.

3. Personal Relationships - Move 2600 miles away from all your friends and see if this doesn't mess with your personal relationships a bit. Add to that the fact that my kids are stressed about the same thing...

4. Health - Had some personal issues crop up here as a result of all the stress of working, packing, moving, trying to sell the house, trying to find a house to buy, learning a new area etc. Add to that some issues with my children (which is MORE stressful to me because I worry about them far more than me) and I think we are 4 for 4 so far.

5. Irritants - The article defines these as the little things that add up. For me this is the fact that we are in a furnished rental with all of our stuff in a storage unit. HUGELY stressful and we really can't' relax in the rental because it doesn't feel like home. It's like staying in someone else's place where you can't change anything or resolve any issues that are bothering you. 5 for 5, plus a bonus for getting all the questions wrong...

So, after glancing at this article, I guess you could say that Joel's stress-meter has been pegged for a while now. The result? Wow. I had no idea what this could do to me. My body has been in revolt.

So what am I doing about it? Yesterday I came to a realization that I really needed to laugh. To just laugh. And not do anything that would let me be distracted from laughing. So I went into my room, turned off the lights, and turned on pandora and listened to stand up comedy. Never done that on Pandora before, but I laughed out loud frequently and by the time I turned it off, I felt a LOT better.

I then spent some time in prayer (probably always a good idea after listening to an hour or so of standup comedy...) and went to sleep. I woke up today with a regular temperature for the first time in almost five days. Finding ways to de-stress just became a lot higher on my priority list.

How's your stress meter?