The Surprising Secret To A Less Stressful Life

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My day job is working for the Church, and February through May is notoriously a very busy time of the year for me. I endured a grueling month of sacramental retreats every weekend and didn’t get to enjoy very many days off. Holy Week and the Easter Triduum preparations seem endless. The RCIA candidates are joyfully received into the church preceded by a mountain of paperwork. The pastor and I also need to interview 116 Confirmation candidates. A couple of short weeks after the interviews we have Confirmation. Then the next week is First Communion for 105 second graders. It’s also the last week of CCD. The week after that, I get married!

In addition to my work at the parish, I have a couple of little side gigs. I write for the CatholicMatch Institute and I’m also the Executive Director of an non-profit called the St. Isidore Project. The mission of the St. Isidore Project is primarily agricultural and guess what… it’s springtime which means it’s planting season! If I don’t plant now, I don’t have a crop. Oh, it would be great if I wrote a few articles too. And, did I mention I’m planning a wedding?! Ahh!!!

The fine art of humblebragging

I’m so busy and stressed out and somehow by complaining about my busyness, it means that I’ve made it to the big leagues of social status. I happened upon this article the other day about something called “humblebragging.”

According to Harvard University, urbanites are increasingly succumbing to the phenomenon of ‘humblebragging’—boasting about their hectic lives as a way to prove that they are ‘in demand.’

“Humblebragging” is a new term for me but I’ve been living the concept for quite a while. I’m busy, and I’m tired, and I love to complain about it. I might be “in demand” but I am super stressed out. Are you feeling the same thing?

Nevertheless we urge you, brothers, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you.  (1 Thess. 4:10-11)

God does not want me to be so busy and constantly stressed out and tired. And He certainly doesn’t want me to complain about it! God intends for me to live a life that includes rest, even if that is to the detriment of being “in demand.”

My single life was marked by constant work, dating, and going out. We have all heard the saying “idleness is the playground of the devil.” I’ve stayed busy to keep out of trouble, but it has burned me out. Now I am getting married and I don’t want to enter into my marriage already burned out by a hectic life.

Taking St. Paul’s admonition to heart, I’ve begun the process of slowing down in two vital ways, prayer and Sunday rest.

Two ways to slow down a busy life: prayer and Sunday rest.Click To Tweet

More time for prayer

“Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy—then we need an hour.” St. Francis de Sales

Prayer is so powerful, how could we not employ it to combat the daily busyness of life? Christ began his public ministry in prayer. Throughout his ministry when things got hectic, Christ would retreat to his “lonely place” of silence and prayer (Luke 5:16). His mission on earth was to save all of humanity from sin and death. I would say that is a pretty important job, right? There is literally nothing more important and even Christ took a break to pray.

Most of us suburbanites in the DC area have really long commutes. In 2016, we ranked #3 for the longest commutes in the US with a 32.8 minute commute, although I literally don’t know anyone with that short of a commute! The car time can be that “lonely place” where you can shut out your worldly cares and encounter the Lord. Instead of adding to the stress in life, which rush-hour traffic oftentimes does, it can help to relieve stress. Prayer times doesn’t need to happen in a church or at home. Pray in the car!

The Rosary is a great prayer to pray while in the car. I pray mine every morning on my way into work. You may also want to listen to a good Catholic podcast. One podcast that I am particularly fond of is called Deep In Scripture. It takes you into various passages in scripture and opens them up to you in a easy to understand way. It is great meditation material.

As St. Francis says, we need to pray every day for 30 minutes. If we are stressed out, then we need to pray for an hour!

Jesus had the most important job in the world, and he took frequent breaks to pray to fuel his mission.Click To Tweet

Sunday rest

“Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full.”  (Pope St. John Paul II in Dies Domini)

The idea of Sunday being a day of rest has been lost in our culture. Everyone (myself included) seems to work or have sports games. We go to the store and buy our groceries. I occasionally pick something up at the grocery store after Mass and it seems like half of my parish is shopping too. Sunday has become just another day to get things done, and we miss out on the rest that God intends for us.

On Sundays, I make a conscious effort to unplug from technology and not check my phone (email, text, etc.). I’ve stopped doing any sort of shopping on Sunday, even food shopping, or going out to eat. My shopping causes someone else to have to work and that’s just not fair.

I try to spend the day with my fiancée and focus on our relationship with each other and our relationship with the Lord. If the weather is nice, we take a walk and pray the rosary. We cook a nice meal and spend time talking at the dinner table. We relax on the couch with the scriptures by rereading the Mass readings. We spend time talking about God or what spiritual reading we are doing. Sometimes we just sit in silence and each read a book. Summer is approaching and we fully intend to spend Sunday afternoons outside in the garden or maybe even hiking. And you know what, my hobbies are starting to call to me again. Where did my banjo picks and beer making supplies go?

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

I’m tired of being stressed. I’m tired of being busy. I’m tired of being tired. Keep me in your presence, O Lord, and if I have to be become unimportant to be less busy, then please make me unimportant

Too busy? Then pray: Oh Lord, if I have to be become unimportant to be less busy, then please make me unimportantClick To Tweet

 



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4 Comments

  1. Stephanie-1368834 May 1, 2017 Reply

    +JMJ+
    Your article is a great reminder that 100% of my life belongs to God, though He grants me the freewill to choose what I do with my life. I easily fall into that trap of catching up on ‘life’ on Sundays. I, too, work for the church, my own home parish, on a part-time basis two days a week (which includes 6 hours on Saturdays). Thank you for reminding me the anchors in my life that are precisely in this order; faith, family, friends. God bless.

  2. Eileen-933239 April 30, 2017 Reply

    Enjoyed your article. I am going to incorporate my Sunday with rest.

  3. Leanne-387609 April 30, 2017 Reply

    Yes, I need to rest more on Sundays. I am going to have dinner with my family and relax a little bit tonight.

  4. Carol-1406992 April 30, 2017 Reply

    Enjoyed reading your post very much. Yup, I’m tired today from helping a friend pack up her house to move and even before I found your message, I decided to stay home, just chill out, probably nap (which I rarely do).
    I am going to listen to my body. I was thinking the same thing. So many people are running around on Sundays, I have been guilty of it myself. Earlier, I decided that I would honor the Lord’s day and remember that it should be a day of rest. Today, I’m taking that literally. Rest, some prayers, a little cooking and some reading. Happy and blest Sunday everyone.

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