“You continue to cling to your fears and doubts…You study them too much, instead of despising them and abandoning yourself entirely to God…Without this happy and holy abandonment you will never enjoy a solid peace.” -Jean-Pierre De Caussade
*I wrote this originally for Patchwork Papist and decided to reprise it in parts: Seven choices you can make which will help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Just a quick note: I will use the terms “stress” and “overwhelmed” interchangeably to mean the same thing throughout.
Here is the obvious one right? But how do we make sense of using it in the midst of feeling overwhelmed? Research has shown numerous benefits around meditation, so much so it seems that it almost makes it cliché to mention it here so I won’t. Just know studies have been done which show it to be beneficial and work on the autonomic nervous system through the parasympathetic nervous system (basically the opposite of the “fight or flight” response which is what happens to our bodies in a state of stress).
So practical ways to use it during these times: Shopping, working, busy at family parties and gatherings? Try taking a break in the bathroom, an unused office space, or on a couch in a mall. Pull up a short reflection on your smart phone using the Laudate app or iBreviary. FOCUS and Word on Fire are also great for this. I actually like to carry a small notebook in which I have written my favorite quotes from spiritual readings and because they speak right to me, especially around my fear and anxiety, they work particularly well in these times. Another good method is to have a copy of the Pocket Imitation of Christ or one of St. Jose Marie Escriva’s works like Furrow. The goal in these times is because we don’t have a lot of time to set aside for full meditation we just nurture ourselves on a spiritual line or two, reminding us that we are made for more than the cares and anxieties of this world.
“if you can plan your time of meditation to be in His presence all the better for releasing those feelings of being overwhelmed.”
The second suggestion would be make time for mediation. Whether it is 15 minutes or an hour, set aside time in your day to do it, otherwise all of these “other things” we have going on will always make us feel like we don’t have time. It may sound counter intuitive but the more time we give to God it would seem the more time we then have for those important “other things.” Give it a try. That is the only way you will know what works for you. Just put some time-frame into practice. Fr. Barron in his 2014 Advent reflections recommended Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during this time of the year and I couldn’t agree more. Being in the presence of Our Lord is a great place to rest our stressed hearts; if you can plan your time of meditation to be in His presence all the better for releasing those feelings of being overwhelmed.