I stepped into a sea of people rushing past me to catch their flights, while others pushed around me with their rolling carry-ons headed to baggage claim.
I disembarked the plane feeling stressed but reassured myself I had plenty of time to get to my speaking engagement. Instead of finding somewhere to eat lunch – what I should’ve done because my tummy was growling – I sat down in the terminal to work on “urgent” emails. I chose to check off meeting someone else’s expectations instead of taking care of my own well-being.
I had arrived at Gate #6, so I figured I was close to baggage claim. But standing on the moving sidewalk later, I noticed the gate numbers were climbing higher, not lower.
Sweat started pouring out as I broke into a fast walk, then a galloping trot, as the escalating gate numbers seemed endless! Anxiety skyrocketed when I saw a sign: 10-Minute Walk to the Airport Tram. What? A tram?!
I forgot this airport had many, many terminals. I was beyond starving and now I was crunched for time. My hyperfocus on getting something done for everyone else distracted me from my heart’s true mission that day and what I was truly excited and energized about – meeting new friends and creating wonderful memories of encouragement together.
I’m curious, do you often pay attention to the feelings of others, but easily neglect your own wellbeing? And if something goes wrong — whether in the lives of your kids, family, work, ministry, or friends — do you feel you’re the one responsible to pick up the pieces and shoulder their burdens?
If yes, you’re like me and most women! Studies show that women suffer from burnout more than men due to being “overly-responsible.” So how do we address burnout? How do we avoid being overly-responsible and take steps towards the things that give us life and lift us up, so we can pour out to those we love without wearing ourselves out?
It’s like the instructions we receive when we fly. Put on our own oxygen mask first, before helping others around you.
To combat burnout, we need to make more space for God to pour His peace into our lives, which will renew our spark of joy again! But how, you ask?
Here’s the myth: We try to feel better by thinking our way out of stress. (triggers stress)
The truth is: We have to nurture our way out of stress with God’s peace. (relieves stress)
Let me explain. Did you know there are two types of anxiety: left brain and right brain anxiety?
The left brain is where we problem solve. It’s the logic part of our brain, where we experience anxiety called “anxious apprehension.” This is when we hyperfocus trying to solve some problem and start worrying too much. It results in overthinking about problems we encounter.
The right brain is what we call the emotional part of our brain – the feeling part of where we experience panic, sadness, or fear – called “anxious arousal.” This is when we are overwhelmed by our emotions. The right brain is also where we enjoy creative hobbies. Our auditory sense lights up when we enjoying music, our visual sense is stimulated when we appreciate art, and our tactile senses engage when we garden, knit, or play an instrument. These types of activity result in relieving stress.
Guess which part of the brain – right or left – has been proven most effective to lower stress and anxiety, and lift depression? It’s not the left brain. It’s the right brain that God designed to most powerfully activate our body’s rest response.
Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Notice the order: we receive comfort from God first, and then we can offer it to others — like a flowing river provides life from the rain it first receives from heaven.
As loving women, we’re constantly needing to comfort others around us as they share their frustration, anger, or a myriad of negative emotions. We act like shock absorbers, absorbing the stress of others.
But, God didn’t create you to simply be a shock absorber for others; God created you to flourish with joy as His beloved. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). Before we can be there for others, we need to receive the comfort and joy God has for us.
So, take action today to nurture your way out of stress – to release your anxiety and worry to God — and prioritize time to do what gives you joy!
You are worth it. You are God’s beloved.
What’s something nurturing you enjoy that helps release stress and renew you with God’s peace?
Take this FREE “Soul Care Quiz” to learn what type of care you need most to lower stress and spark God’s peace and joy in your life! Find more encouragement in Bonnie’s beautiful new book Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm.
The (in)courage podcast is taking a brief hiatus from new episodes this week as we do some maintenance and updating behind the scenes! We’ll return to new daily episodes next week, starting March 13th. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy five episodes from our podcast archives!
Today’s replay is from July 2022. It’s an excerpt from our Take Heart devotional, written by Mary Carver and titled If You Feel Like You Take Up Too Much Space. Listen below, or wherever you stream podcasts.Leave a Comment
Jill D. says
This a great reminder as we begin a new week. For me, this post was like getting a hug and some words of advice from a dear friend. Beautiful words.
Bonnie Gray says
Thank you, Jill! Your words are a bouquet of flowers blessing my heart, because I do write as friend to encourage you, as a soul care coach and author. I hope join my FREE Breathe Book Study for my new book,” Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm”, because I’c LOVE to continue encouraging you! You get 4 Teaching Sessions + Community Support! Sign up at thebreathebook.com 🙂
Julie A says
This describes me perfectly, especially the shock absorber part to others. I love your article and how you relay caring for ourselves first after receiving God’s comfort.
Bonnie Gray says
It’s happens to us as loving women who do absorb so much stress from others. Thank you for sharing that this article speaks to you, Julie! I’d love to continue encouraging! If you like books, I hope join my FREE Breathe Book Study for my new book,” Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm”, as I guide sisters to nurture their wellness with God, as a soul care coach. You get 4 Sessions + Community Support! Sign up at thebreathebook.com 🙂
Julie A says
I am already on pre order for this book, yayy
Cynthia Millner says
Thank you for all you do . . . I start my weekdays with these podcasts and look forward to hearing them. Keep them coming as they are good for my soul.
Bonnie Gray says
Thank you so much, Cynthia! I hope you feel inspired and encouraged by God’s peace today and this week!
You described me to a T, and with a heart and eyes that are empathetic and can “see” needs….”I think a meal would help,” “oh she would probably lay appreciate a note” “I could offer to grocery shop for her” it’s challenging to stop and see what I need because the needs around me are glowing like a beacon and often pressing. Will spend more time sitting at His feet even if just to let him “hold” me….thank you…..
Bonnie Gray says
What a fabulous writer you are, Kathy! I love your metaphor of others needs being a “glowing beacon” and “often pressing”! Especially poignant since I see from your comment that you have the spiritual gift of compassion and service and encouragement! I would LOVE to continue encouraging you, friend! I hope join my FREE Breathe Book Study for my new book,” Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm”, as I guide sisters to spend time sitting at Jesu’s feet, to nurture their wellness with God, as a soul care coach with God’s Word & His peace.You get 4 Sessions + Community Support! Sign up at thebreathebook.com
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Bonnie yes we do need to make more space for God’s peace in our lives. Sometimes I find myself letting the stress of what someone did to me or annoy take over. That I go over and over it in my head. That I get stressed and annoyed with them I get I no space for God’s peace in that situation. I going over and over what they said and getting so stressed up. I say to myself why did they say that. Why didn’t I do or say this. Then I hear God say Dawn stop going over it in your head. You need to pray for them ask me to help you not to let yourself get so stressed about it. Ask me to God to give you my peace. Stop going over it in your head what they said. Tell them your not going to let what they said stress you out. As if you don’t the only person here going to get Stressed is you and end annoyed and get no where. Until I done that my stress level has stayed high. Satan the Old Devil as used them to get me all worked up and stressed that I don’t want anything to do with the person that has me stressed up. If not careful I could end up saying nasty things about them that wrong in God’s eyes. I could have done that before when someone stressed me up over something they said to me that was not nice. God has also said Dawn I get that hand it to God theses situations. Do as he tells me. If he tell me to go them say what they say not nice and why. If they didn’t see they say sorry I wone them. If not say I still forgive you and let it go and ask God to help me forgive them and not let stress me out that goes over and over in my head getting to me. That the Old Devil wants. Thank you Bonnie for today’s reading it spoke to me. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little keeping you all incourage in my prayers.
Joy Tomlinson says
I’ve experienced burnout before, it’s definitely not fun. My boss tried to help me with that by cutting out some things I’ve done, and it’s helped me breathe a bit more. But you are right too, I need to receive God’s peace so that I can give out. Thank you for the reminder.
Beth Williams says
Spot on as usual. Women are fixers & doers by nature. We’re busy doing for family, friends, etc. So much so that we often neglect ourselves. Lysa Terkeurst said it best in her book “Your Best Yes” “Saying yes to everyone & everything won’t make you wonder woman. It will make you a worn out woman with nothing left to give.” I love helping others-making meals, calling friends, etc. But lately I’ve been feeling burnout. It stems from the job I have that changed suddenly last fall. It can be somewhat stressful. Add to that hubby & I work opposite schedules-he’s on weekends & I’m during the week. It is hard to have time with him. I took a note from your books & put margin in my schedule. Making time for me to cook for hubby & I, plus just rest on weekends.
To relieve stress I listen to Christian music, watch TV, or simply take a nap. Allow myself to not think or be on my feet for a while.