Feeling Pulled in too many directions?

According to a recent national poll, those individuals in the "sandwich generation" (ages 35 to 54) report the highest level of stress. Many Ministry Leaders and Pastors are also caring for aging parents and simultaneously raising children like those in the sandwich generation which can leave many 35 to 54 year olds with high and untreated levels of stress. In fact, nearly two out of five Americans 35 to 54 years old report extreme levels of stress (39 percent vs. 29 percent of 18 to 34 year olds and 25 percent of 55+), and experience their highest level of stress for 8.2 days of each month, compared to 6.5 days for 18 to 34 year olds and 6.9 days for those over 55. Furthermore, members of this generation report that their stress negatively affects others, citing relationships as a top stressor. In addition, 81 percent cite work or workload and money and housing costs as an extreme source of stress.

Still Waters Restoration & Resource Ministries offers the following tips to Ministry Leaders:

Understand how you experience stress. Everyone experiences stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed? How are your thoughts or behaviors different from times when you feel calm? Identify your sources of stress. What events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to your children, family health, financial decisions, ministry, relationships or something else?

Recognize how you deal with stress. Determine if you are using unhealthy behaviors to cope. Is this a routine behavior or is it specific to certain events or situations? Do you make unhealthy choices when you feel rushed and overwhelmed?

Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity. Ensure you have a healthy mind and body through activities like prayer and personal bible study, walking, working out at the gym or playing sports. No matter how hectic life gets, you need to take care of yourself -- which includes making time for yourself -- so you have the mental and physical energy to care for your parents and children and fulfill your ministry calling. Find healthy ways to manage stress. Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities -- taking a short walk, exercising or talking things out with friends or family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. 

Don't take on too much at once. Focus on changing one behavior at a time. Reach out for support. If you feel overwhelmed by stress to the point where you are having some difficulty performing your daily ministry/home activities, you may want to talk to a Still Waters support staff who can help you better manage your stress.

Learn your own stress signals. People experience stress in different ways. When you are feeling stressed, you may have a hard time concentrating or making decisions, feel angry, irritable or out of control or experience headaches, muscle tension or a lack of energy. Gauge your stress signals.

Still Waters Restoration & Resource Ministries is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting health and wellness among Christian Ministers and their families.

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant to be used in place of professional consultation/treatment for individual health needs.