When a person tries to balance schoolwork, hobbies, responsibilities, life goals, reading lists, and any other number of things, something usually happens. Stress crowds out life’s simple joys as they become no longer simple. Day to day activities combine with hobbies to feel like a large-scale game of time management Tetris. For a person like me time management feels impossible. As I write, I have had to cancel my weekly art lesson for time reasons, and I have felt a sense of relief. Why should I be relieved to cancel something that gives me so much joy? Because sometimes life moves quickly, and the many details are smothering. When stress overtakes life one must maintain a clean work environment, identify a clear goal, and remember to pray.
To begin with, I personally cannot thrive in a mess. The clutter begins to overtake my mind when my stuff is in heaps on the floor, and I can’t see my desk. Stepping around my piles my mind begins to take on worries and feel as messy as my room. On the contrary when I open the windows and air out my room, while sweeping, dusting, doing laundry, and clearing my desk, life is brighter and my mind less cluttered. The challenge with clutter is that it feels like a mountain of work when in reality a five-minute tidy up will change the world. Deep cleaning may not be within grasp but just clearing a desk will do a world of good. That thirty minute is not a waste and changes a person’s whole outlook on life.
The next step to eliminating stress is to have a clear goal. In life there will be many crossroads, many big and even more small. Every choice directly impacts a person’s entire future which is very intimidating, but it is a reality that must be faced. Indecision causes some of the worst stress I have ever encountered, and a clear goal will help with decision making. With a goal a person can decide what to do for the immediate decisions and which decisions can be put to the side. For example, in my own life I often debate whether college lines up with the choices I am making in my life. I keep going back and forth thinking, maybe this opportunity or that opportunity would be a better option; after all, they all line up with a central goal I have but they go about achieving that goal in different ways. Recently I realized that I don’t have to know just yet. I can take a gap year after high school and decide then. I have decided to take a gap year which is a big decision, but it is best for me. It has eliminated so much stress. For one’s own sanity one must decide what a good life goal is and take the immediate steps toward that.
Lastly but most importantly God says in Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” God knows what he is doing in a person’s life, and he will use their mistakes and their triumphs to accomplish his perfect will which is to “prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Even when life seems crazy and like its tumbling apart God knows all which is why I talk to him about my problems. He listens to me, and prayer gives me peace. I just say, “I can’t handle this so I am leaving it with you.” Sometimes when I pray, I feel like nothing is happening and I must remind myself that God is listening, and he is managing my life for me. Even when it has felt like my prayers were not working, I later saw evidence that God came through in ways I didn’t see at the time. One time I accidentally offended a friend, and I was really stressed and depressed even after clearing it up with her. Later, I found out that my offence led her to some important conversations with other people. Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
In life everyone will have troubles balancing life but there are ways to gain peace and give stress a good kick in the butt. Tidying a cluttery mess brings clarity. Having a goal makes decisions more straightforward. Praying ultimately puts everything in God’s hands which is a very comforting feeling. God wants to take our burden and simplify things for us which in all reality is the best way to stop stress from devouring life’s simple joys. Jesus once said, John 16:33: “’I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’” Every single person will face troubles but by stepping back to look at the big picture and keeping a clean workspace, stress can be managed.