Thought for the day 4 November

4 National Stress Awareness Day
Stress and pressure are a natural part of life, and learning to cope with them is part of the process of maturing into adulthood. Much as we might like the thought, life sitting around with no stress, no pressure, no obligation to do anything, would actually rapidly become boring. [Point to remember when we try to picture Paradise!] But in all sorts of situations stress can become too much, and our ability to cope buckles under the strain. The past eight months have brought a ‘perfect storm’ of situations that create excess stress: fear of catching the virus; grief at losing someone close; frustration over cancelled plans and expectations; loneliness; boredom; worry about job/livelihood/finance/food on the table; challenges over childcare or care for older/disabled relatives, or balancing family care with continuing to work; exam results, university entry and university teaching; delayed hospital appointments; coping with ever-changing regulations and restrictions; what the politicians are or are not doing etc etc. We have all had to deal with some kind of additional stress this year – and sadly some have had to cope with a lot. Many folk are struggling. What can we do? Maybe begin by acknowledging that we are stressed, and there is nothing ‘wrong’ with that. It isn’t a sign of weakness or failure. Maybe we need some fresh air, a touch of scenery or colour. Maybe we need to do something new: can we do something creative that expresses our feeling? Maybe we could open up and share with someone we trust. If need be seek professional advice. We need to acknowledge too that others are stressed – they may be reluctant, not interested, can’t be bothered; they may be rather sharp-tongued. We may need a lot of patience, but we don’t need to give up and walk away: gentle encouragement, suggesting options, inviting to join in, maybe deciding not to take offence at any sharp-tongued comments, or avoiding getting into a bitter argument. And maybe, help them to realise that they are stressed

Lord, people are struggling with stress at the moment, and some are having a really hard time. Help us to acknowledge and address our own issues with it, and to be ready to get alongside relatives, friends, neighbours who are struggling – not bossing them around, but gently encouraging them

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