“I’m so busy!” has become such a ubiquitous phrase that it has its own Twitter following. One person tweeted, “I’m so busy I need an appointment to be with myself.”
All of this running around is associated with the dreaded S word: Stress. The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Findings1 found that Americans report being too busy as a primary barrier to managing stress. It’s a vicious cycle.
“Busy is the new sick” writes Dr. Suzanne Koven in her Boston.com post. She describes patients who come to see her with a myriad of symptoms ranging from anxiety and back pain to headaches. But she gives them all the same diagnosis: Too Busy. She says she knows the signs all too well herself.
So what to do? For people who suffer from the pain of things like tension headaches, also known as “stress headaches”, finding an effective treatment needs to go deeper than merely deleting things from their calendar or even finding temporary relief in medication.
For starters, carving out quiet moments in your day can give you the needed perspective that breaks the cycle of stress. The field of medicine is recognizing this on some level, too. I recently attended a mindfulness clinic for physicians and healthcare providers in Boston, designed to show the advantages of prescribing mindful techniques for patients. During an exercise where we were all asked to close our eyes for about five minutes, one participant admitted that she felt uncomfortable with the long silence. She needed to be doing something.
Perhaps the first step of progress is recognizing that what looks like doing nothing is actually doing something. I have seen that specific prayer doesn’t empty our mind, but fills it with practical, healing ideas. Taking the time to think deeply about spiritual concepts, appreciating the good in our lives and connecting with our Creator are moments that have far-reaching implications.
From my teenage years until I became a new mother, I suffered from recurring headaches that sometimes began as tension headaches as a result of stress but usually turned into unbearable migraines2.
There isn’t a known cure for headaches, and I really wanted to be free of them—for good. Was this too much to ask? I didn’t think so. I had established a habit of seeking a spiritual solution to just about any problem, based on my study and practice of Christian Science. Whether or not you’ve ever prayed before, or even believe in a higher power, you just might find some useful ideas you can individualize for your life. Here’s what I did…
When my children were napping or in bed for the night, I stopped multi-tasking with household duties and used those quiet moments to pray with ideas from Bible passages and a book that helped me better understand how I could make these ideas practical in my life called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (The Christian Science Board of Directors).
Prayer has a way of shining light on the dark places in consciousness, making us aware of what we may not have noticed before. Here are some of my take-aways:
- I had a choice. I could give in to the tension of circumstances until it escalated into a headache, or I could take time to connect with God, with “thoughts of peace” that promised “an expected end” as the Scriptures say.
- I was not a helpless victim. My thoughts determined what I experienced. The Bible begins in Genesis with the declaration that God gave us dominion. To me that meant I had the power to resist oppressive thoughts. I found this related to an idea I’d read in Science and Health: “Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action… God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.” This gave me the strength and conviction to stand up for a pain-free life.
- I could respond to events in my life in health-affirming ways. I could exercise gentleness instead of impatience, grace instead of criticism, gratitude instead of selfishness. These qualities have a divine source so they naturally support peaceful, rather than tense, interactions.
- I could yield up personal control. I didn’t have to feel personally responsible for the smooth operation of my home and family. The calm moments I experienced in prayer helped me to see that I could experience greater harmony with less “My will be done” and more “Thy will be done.”
As I practiced these ideas, I began to notice tangible results. The headaches became less intense and less frequent until they finally just faded away completely.
That was over a decade ago and you could say my life hasn’t exactly moved into the slow lane, but I prefer to think of my days as wonderfully full, rather than stress-full.
We all have the right to expect pain-free, balanced days. The good news is you’ve been given the tools to discover your tailor-made answer. That inner compass pointing to inspired solutions is one you can trust. You, too, can find healing.
1. “Stress in America Key Findings: 2010.” http://www.apa.org. N.p., n.d. Web.
2. “My Healing Journey out of Migraines.” Rewire Me. N.p., 12 Oct. 2014. Web.