By Dena Yohe
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true…noble…just…pure…lovely…of good report, if there is any virtue…anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Phil. 4:8).
When our children are troubled, their pain weighs heavy on a parent’s heart. We’re easily overwhelmed. The issues our children face can vary: questioning their faith, experimenting with alcohol or drugs, mental health issues, self-injury, gender identity confusion, etc. Questions plague us. How can we fix them? What will others think? Why did this happen and what’s going to happen next?
The strain affects our health, sleep, relationships with our spouse, our other children, our co-workers, friends, and even with God. We never expected this. Our heart’s broken into a million little pieces and we were completely unprepared. Like Humpty Dumpty who fell off the wall, we’re incapable of putting ourselves us back together again.
But God . . . our heavenly Father is committed to help us when worry strains our bodies, minds, and souls. With men it is impossible, but not with God; because all things are possible with God.(Mark 10:27 HCSB)
When we can’t change our child, we experience huge amounts of stress. In my own life, when I discovered my daughter was severely depressed, cutting herself, abusing substances and suffering with suicidal thoughts, managing my anxiety, fear, and sadness felt impossible. Over the last fifteen years since then, I’ve learned a lot. These are eight practical tips that helped:
Eight Ways to Reduce Stress
- Learn to say no: simplify your life. Shorten your to-do list. Only do what’s necessary. Delegate what you can to others. You need all your energy to cope with normal everyday activities. In Ex. 18: 31-32, God gave Moses extra help when he was in need.
- Set aside time for solitude, rest, and relaxation. Make time in your schedule to do what refreshes your soul: smell a flower, go for a walk, enjoy a hobby, take a nap, or listen to relaxing music.
- Sit alone with God and simply enjoy His presence. Jesus said, Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).
- Focus on self-care. Prioritize those things: good nutrition, sufficient sleep, and exercise.
- Make time for fun: remember what that is? Laughter helps the body fight stress. Proverbs 17:22 says a cheerful heart is good medicine.
- Express how you feel; don’t stuff your emotions. Write in a journal, sing a song, draw, etc. If something or someone is upsetting you, communicate your concerns in an authentic and respectful way.
- Remember the big picture; get an eternal perspective. Take one day, even one moment, at a time. This pain won’t last forever, even though you feel like it will. Print out a copy of The Serenity Prayer (you can find one on the internet) and use it every day.
- Connect with others who understand; people who won’t judge, criticize, or offer unhelpful platitudes. Talk to a friend. Join a small group. See a counselor or clergy. Develop a support system. Resist the urge to withdraw and isolate out of guilt and shame. Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens. How can we do this if they don’t know what our burdens are?
Prayer: Father, You’re the Master stress-reducer. Show us what we need from this list. Teach us the ways of Jesus. He had a lot to be stressed about, yet He remained calm. Help us incorporate these things into our lives. Our situation might not change anytime soon, but with Your help and strength, we can change how we respond. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Recommended book—You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids
About the author:
Dena Yohe is the award-winning author of You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids (2017). Co-founder of Hope for Hurting Parents, she is a blogger, former pastor’s wife, and CRU affiliate staff (former staff). She and her husband Tom have been guests on Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, Family Life with Dennis Rainey, and Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. A proud mom of three adult children she enjoys music, gardening, and being Mimi to her grandchildren. Find out more on HopeForHurtingParents.com
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