As we wrap up the stress busters series, I would like to consider a stress buster that ties in with stress buster 1, which was using a schedule. Have you ever had a nightmare that involved being back in school? Maybe it went a little like this: It was time for a test, but with a pounding heart you suddenly realized that you hadn’t studied for it. Maybe it wasn’t a dream. Perhaps that is what really happened when you were in school. Stress comes when we are unprepared or not keeping up. What is the antidote for that stress? Being consistent!
If you have consistent study habits—a set time and a set place and you actually study—you will be prepared for the test without feeling stressed. However, if you allow other activities and interruptions to steal away that study time, you will likely feel stress not only as you approach the test but also when you take it.
A Surprising Stress-Buster
Consistency eliminates stress by preparing us for what is ahead and keeping us from falling behind. That was one key to the success of Roald Amundsen, the famous explorer of arctic regions in the early 1900s, who was the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen was consistent as he prepared for his expedition. In addition, while trekking overland toward the pole, he kept a consistent pace on good days. On bad days, if there was any possibility at all of forward movement, he started out and went whatever distance he could go, even if it wasn’t far.
In contrast, Robert Scott, Amundsen’s English competitor who was also trying to reach the South Pole, took cover in the bad weather and pushed too hard when the weather allowed travel, wearing his crew out. Amundsen’s commitment to covering at least a few miles on bad days and keeping to a reasonable pace for a reasonable distance on good days—consistency—added up over the course of his journey. It is a little like the fable of the tortoise and the hare.
Pretty much universally, moms like a clean, organized, well-managed home. As busy moms, we will find that being consistent in our housework means that we aren’t falling behind, we have a livable environment, and if guests drop by, we aren’t embarrassed—definite stress busters!
Chore consistency is demonstrated by a master chore list, chore assignments, and a chore schedule that is being utilized. Then we know what should be done, who will do it, and when it will be accomplished. If this is an area of need for you, we would recommend Managers of Their Chores, where we give you direction for setting up and implementing a successful chore plan.
Consistency in Homeschooling
Consider consistency in homeschooling for those who are homeschool moms. It is the mom who consistently tackles schoolwork day by day who reaches the end of the school year with school books completed and children who have progressed educationally, prepared for their standardized tests should those be required. It is the mom who isn’t consistent in her school time who will experience the stress involved in getting behind in school. That stress is a great discourager.
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). We see ants busily going about their acquisition of food and building their homes. They are consistently working away day by day, and even though they are very small, their consistency enables their survival.
There are many interruptions in our days—interruptions that can cause stress. However, if we see the importance of consistency, we continue to tackle those tasks that are before us, not allowing the interruptions to sidetrack us, or at least not to pull us away for long. When they do pull us off track, we aren’t stressed because we have had steady accomplishment and know we will be right back on track soon.
Consistency in sleep gives us one of the most important ingredients for stress resistance—energy! Something as simple as going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day allows you to get the sleep you need and to accomplish necessary tasks each morning without falling behind. If you don’t go to bed in time, then the morning arrives and you don’t want to get up, and you’re sluggish when you do. Instantly stress is a part of your day, before you even put your feet on the ground.
You might ask, What if the children are awake in the night, and I am up with them? I would suggest that for consistency at those times, you go ahead and get up at the usual time. Then plan to take a nap in the afternoon to make up for the lost nighttime sleep.
“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6). When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to rebuild it, he set his people to work. They tenaciously tackled first one part of the wall and then another because the people were willing to work. It is quite possible that consistency is closely tied to work. Perhaps most, if not all, consistency requires work.
What about us? Are we willing to work, or are we looking for ways to avoid it? Chores are work. Making meals is work. Laundry is work. Homeschooling is work. Even going to bed and getting up on time is a form of work—the work of self-discipline.
In the priorities the Lord has given to me, I want to be like Nehemiah or Amundsen—consistent. I am sure that consistency will be part of eliminating stress for me, and it will move me forward toward the goals I have. I like that idea, and I believe it is worth investing in consistency.