Anticipation and Stress

Advent. Anticipation. Anxiety.

Were you ever about to do something, and then the thought hits “how did I ever get myself into this situation?”

Maybe it was when you were about to get into the car to attempt the world’s largest roller coaster? Or making a big speech in front of a large crowd? Or getting into your car in anticipation of a family Christmas gathering with weather coming in?

Often anticipation and anxiety go together. Maybe that is one reasons psychologists always talk about the weeks leading up to Christmas as one of the most stressful times of the year.

Maybe it’s not so much about celebrating Jesus’ coming into the world as much as all the family stuff, office parties, buying presents, sending cards, other gatherings, need to be cheerful, and so on. We certainly know how to stress ourselves at this time of year.

There are practices that humans have developed to counter these stresses. Mindfulness means paying attention to only the present moment–what’s around you, what your state is, your task at hand. Consciously regulating your breathing whether lying, seated or walking helps bring you into a conscious state of mind.

I don’t teach Yoga as a religion, but as a physical practice and for developing the state of mind of being in the present moment.

Another practice is one that Bill Hybels teaches at Willow Creek Community Church–15 minutes in your chair every morning reading the Bible and contemplating. Gets your day off to a more focused start.

Two more practices are complementary. One is to practice gratitude thanking God for all the things you are grateful for. The other is to practice forgiveness–forgiving others for perceived slights and recognizing your own need for forgiveness for the things you have done to others.

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