By Guest Blogger Kim Williams

If you’re not dealing with stress right now, you’re not paying attention. A pandemic, wars, social media banter, political bullying (or is that social media bullying and political banter?). The trees are dying, animal species disappearing, the ozone is thinning and children are starving somewhere. Don’t even get me started on dog and cats in crisis (insert mournful music). Feeling it, yet? We all are.

On top of that, we all experience the demands of relationships, illness, job transitions, aging and even the stress of our own feelings and thoughts. Life pushes on us – sometimes hard.

What to do? I usually go to three things:

1. Know that it’s a process.

In the same way that hiking to the top of a mountain requires effort, even discomfort life requires effort. Somewhere along the way, we seem to have gotten this idea that life is supposed to have a particular mix of easy and hard; more of the easy – less hard. Right? Not true. This moment is our work, our living and it’s often hard, sometimes painful work.

2. Do a self-care check.

Years ago someone introduced me to the acronym HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. HALT and see if you’re dealing with any of these. If more than two of these are going on in your life, you could benefit from some extra care. Make sure you have as many of these things taken care of as possible – and the good news is, most of these are within our power to address.

3. Use the buddy system.

Why is it we so often go into hiding when we are struggling? Isolation isn’t helpful for managing life’s pushiness. Get with someone else and push back! Throughout every religious and spiritual tradition the importance of community remains constant. As the often quoted, but seldom studied words of the poet remind us (edited for gender inclusiveness),

No one is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every person is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Anyone’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in humankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. – John Donne


Let’s rethink the role of our stress (I added a 4th. Guilty). I recently viewed a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal. In less than 15 minutes, she explains how the idea of stress being harmful is more harmful than the stress (read that sentence again). The biochemical reactions of our body during stress are preparing us to deal with stress, even driving us to find community! Here is the link to the talk.

I am not, we are not, powerless over the stressors of our living. Let’s take a bit of time regularly to be aware of our situation, check in with others and make choices to de-stress. Deal?


Kim Williams is an author, former pastor, and a person in long-term recovery.


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