Are you wishing for some summer joy this year? Do you deal with anxious thoughts and stress instead? If we’re honest, most everyone carries too much stress and too little joy, at all times of year.
But, there’s great news! As you turn your eyes towards God, you can take steps to turn your stress into joy, and your ashes into rejoicing. Ready? Here are our 7 steps for summer joy.
It can be very easy to try to keep up with the Jones every summer. The best vacations, the best kids’ camps, the best parties, even the best yards.
Instead of comparing your life with the highlights of others, first step back and decide what is truly joyous to you.
Is it time with family? Movies? Prayer walks? Gardening? BBQ’s and lawn games? Sunday evening dinner? Camping?
Don’t let the image of a picture-perfect life sway you. Decide on your own simple goals for the summer, without any input from social media which tends to induce depressive moods, not joy, in us (1).
Of course, just determining what brings joy to you is not the same as dealing with your stressors.
They’ll still be there. And likely, many will also be there. But here’s the thing about stress and anxiety: it’s easier to deal with when it’s brought into the light.
How do you bring it into the light? You name it. You talk about it with someone you trust. Even if you can’t make it “go away,” it can become smaller and less scary.
First, name your stress for the next few months. Maybe it’s:
Take time to name your stress. Everyone has it. Here are also some ways to deal with it: Combat Stress with 11 Daily Habits, including Dr. Colbert’s Nano-Science Hemp Oil, calming breathing, and more.
You’ve named the stress. Now, pray about it.
First, prayer gives control to God and releases it from you.
Second, while it may not change the situation, it will change your own heart toward it.
Third, it helps you focus on truth and the present. When we worry, our minds run amuck with concocted fears that will likely never come to fruition. This physically depletes our minds and our bodies.
Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”
And truthful prayer? It does the opposite.
In 2nd Corinthians Paul admonishes us to take captive every thought that stands against the knowledge of God. When you’re stressed, how do you talk to yourself?
Does it bring you toward God, or away?
So the kids are home and the house is a mess, you’re not accomplishing everything you wanted, and you’re too busy. Don’t berate yourself, but instead take negative thoughts captive.
Then, replace them with truth.
You can find truth in the Bible. Truth of God’s endless love for you. Truth for joy in your life. We’ve listed verses below, they are a great start.
If the summer season turns into a rushing-around do-everything season, choose to say “no” more often. Busy schedules almost always increase anxiety, in both children and adults (2).
When determining what activities to keep, decide if they are joyous for you and your family or not. You get to make this determination. Do what’s best for your people.
As for the activities you must do, try to find joy in them. Listen to praise music, pray continuously to invite God into the activity, and again, use these amazing Anti-Stress Daily Habits.
You’ve heard it before: practicing gratitude and optimism can decrease cortisol and anxious thoughts, while increasing joy (3).
How can you practice? Try writing down specific gratitudes each day. You can tell others. You can tell God.
What’s more, practicing gratitude helps to improve optimism. While some optimism characteristics are innate, others can be learned. And, as we discuss in this article, optimism might just be the fountain of youth!
God instructs us to keep His words, to write them on our hearts. It’s an amazingly powerful practice, and can give you the encouragement you need, right when you need it.
Consider finding a few passages or verses to memorize this summer. Or, try these verses on joy:
Psalm 16:5-11: Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Habakkuk 3:17-19: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
John 15:9-17: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
This summer, joy can be yours. Look to God and His promises. Forget the fools’ gold around you of keeping up with others. Simple joy can be found each day this season.