5 Ways to Care for Your Soul in an Overwhelming Season

woman stressed over Christmas errands

5 Ways to Care for Your Soul in an Overwhelming Season

Allow God to reassure you of His love and peace. Remember He walks with you even in this hurried season. He has no trouble keeping up.

My to-do list held a million tasks. Obligations piled as high as the Empire State Building. Events packed my schedule as tightly as people at Lollapalooza. Life ran at the pace of Usain Bolt.  

Okay. I might have exaggerated a tad. But during the past few months, I experienced an overwhelming season of life. In the span of only a few weeks, I had a book deadline, two major speaking engagements, and two trips to see extended family members. All good things. But all the wonderful things that filled my calendar made my soul feel like my stomach on Thanksgiving—overstuffed. Each event was a tasty morsel that, taken all together, left me intensely uncomfortable.

I’m sure you have also had your own overwhelming seasons. A big project at work comes due the same week as your daughter’s dance recital. You struggle to find time to devote to the project in the midst of all the extra trips to the dance studio. Or your elderly parents need help moving the same month your son’s basketball team goes to state and your small group at church has volunteered to help at a local homeless shelter. How will you find time to meet all your obligations?

When we find ourselves juggling too many activities at once, the strain on our bodies may be obvious. Perhaps we skimp on sleep or find ourselves grabbing fast food in order to get everything done. And we may notice that our minds struggle as we attempt to keep up with a seemingly impossible, high-speed pace of life. But even more than our bodies or minds, our souls ache when we find ourselves overwhelmed. When events and obligations crowd not only our calendars, but our hearts, how can we cope? 

Thankfully, we can care for our souls even when we find ourselves in busy, hectic periods of life. Even before I entered the demanding weeks that I knew were approaching, I looked ahead at my calendar and decided that, in order to get through them, I needed a plan to care for my soul. I came up with a list of a few simple things I could do to pay attention to my spirit, even as I gradually checked off every task and attended each event. These five things may help you in your busy weeks or months too:

1. Prioritize rest. 

Although I worried about not having time to get everything done, I knew that if I became ill because I had skimped on sleep, I definitely would not finish on time. So I prioritized physical rest by going to bed early whenever possible. This not only helped me stay physically healthy, but kept my mind alert and creative—essential for the writing and speaking work I needed to accomplish.

I also made time for spiritual rest. While I didn’t have time for a long weekend retreat, I set aside a few moments each day to sit quietly in the Lord’s presence, turning over my anxieties to Him and reminding myself of His constant care and concern for me. 

When you find yourself in a period of overwhelm, take the time to simply be God’s child. Remember that His love for you does not depend on your accomplishments. He loves you whether you check everything off on your to-do list—or not.

2. Meditate on Scripture. 

When I took a short break from my work on the computer, I picked up a stack of Bible verse cards that sit on my desk. For just a few moments, I would read, “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4 ESV), meditating on the fact that God values and loves me. Or I would pick up Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” and remember the rest Jesus gives as He works with me even in busy times. Or I would read, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV) and rejoice that God would give me the right words and enough time to complete the tasks He had given me. This simple practice slowed my racing heart and calmed my anxieties. When I returned to the task at hand, I could continue without panic. God had lowered my level of overwhelm a few notches.

Grab a few index cards or sticky notes and write down verses that will calm your soul during your hectic weeks or months. Take a few minutes every day to slowly read or recite the verse. Allow God to reassure you of His love and peace. Remember He walks with you even in this hurried season. He has no trouble keeping up.

3. Listen to music. 

Sometimes, instead of reaching for my stack of Scripture cards, I listened to music for a few minutes. I clicked on a favorite Christian song or some calming classical guitar music. Closing my eyes and focusing on the sounds settled my soul.

Research shows that music can increase the feel-good hormone dopamine in our brains and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. In other words, music can calm our stressed-out hearts and instill some peace in the midst of demanding situations. Choose songs that remind you of God’s grace. Find soothing instrumental music.  Select music that feeds your soul.

4. Take mini-breaks in nature.

A long hike in the woods never fails to renew my soul. But I didn’t have time to drive to my favorite state park and walk the trails. My schedule didn’t allow a leisurely ramble in a forest.

But I did find time for mini-breaks in nature. When I started feeling stressed or had serious writer’s block, I headed down to the kitchen and made myself a cup of my favorite herbal tea. Then I headed out the patio door and stood on our deck, looking out on our backyard. For the five minutes it took me to sip and enjoy my peach tea, I purposely listened to the sound of the birds singing, the leaves rustling. I felt the breeze and smelled the flowers. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but a few minutes in nature renewed my soul.

Seasons of overwhelm can wear your soul thin. Find small moments in nature to repair your spirit. Make a latte and sit on the porch. Walk around the block and deliberately notice the wonder of God’s creation. See the trees and flowers (or snowflakes, depending on the season).

5. Stay present.

With big deadlines looming, I found my mind constantly drifting toward the future. Would I get the book done on time? Would I finish polishing the presentation before the speaking event? Questions like these made my heart race and my soul wither.

So I forced myself to stay present. To focus on the sentence I was writing or concentrate on the words I was practicing. Even in small ordinary moments of the day I fixed my thoughts on the here and now. I felt the warm water in the shower, mindfully tasted the juicy peach at lunch, enjoyed the feeling of my bare feet on the polished wood floor. All this helped me tune out the anxiety of the future and stay present.

If you find your mind racing headlong into the future, stop and ask yourself, “What do I see right now? What do I hear? What do I feel?” 

We all experience periods of time that make us feel as overstuffed as our stomachs on Thanksgiving. Our fit-to-bursting schedules can overwhelm our souls. But we can use bite-sized strategies that care for our spirits even while we check off every task. Prioritizing physical and spiritual rest keeps us healthy. Meditating on Scripture or listening to music focuses our minds on God’s love and presence instead of the pressures of the day. Mini-breaks in nature and staying present renew our spirits and prevent our minds from plunging into the future. Whatever methods we choose to care for our souls, let’s remember that God always walks (or runs!) beside us—even in overwhelming seasons.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Grinvalds

Sharla Fritz is a Christian author and speaker who weaves honest and humorous stories into life-changing Bible study. Author of Enough for Now: Unpacking God’s Sufficiency, Sharla writes about God’s transforming grace. Sharla lives in the Chicago suburbs with her amusing pastor husband. Connect with Sharla at www.sharlafritz.com