Here’s a little story to set up what this Christian counselor in Atlanta will try to teach you about peace. Hear me out. I know you’re tempted to leave the page because you don’t have a lot of time. Hang in there.

I wake up the other morning, rush to get ready for work while dealing with interruptions of every sort, jump in the car with my hot coffee (the only good thing about the morning so far), and drive down to the interstate where I come upon what seems like the worst thing ever. Yes, just like every morning I see cars backed up for miles. I say to myself “Ugh. Welcome to Atlanta.” My grumbling continues as I speak to myself out loud, sharing all of the ways this is the most ridiculous thing ever. I ruminate about how I might be late. I start saying words that Christians probably shouldn’t say (but no one can hear so who cares.) I yell at a couple of drivers who are trying to cut me off…by the time I get to the office I’ve had enough. As soon as someone says hi, I respond with a sarcastic comment that’s meant to let my frustration out. Not on anyone in particular. Just on the day. And every day seems to go this way. I’m frustrated. I’m stressed. Work has me stressed and even though I’ve gotten promotion after promotion, it keeps me stretched ‘too thin’ according to my sister. And when I come home I can’t get a break. My spouse yells at me because all I want to do is check out. There are so many people at work that pull on me and when I come home I don’t want to be pulled on. I just want to relax. But there are things to do. Emotional needs to be met. I just can’t. And so sometimes I don’t. But I know that I probably should do something different. And truth be told I either feel anxious (which is most of the time), miserable, or happy (which is only about one time a quarter when I go on a trip.) My doctor tells me that I’m too stressed and it’s bad for my heart. And, I don’t spend time with God, like ever. The last time I went to church was six months ago, and I’m not sure I could even handle that right now. It’s just too much to fit in.

Does any of this story sound familiar? I provide Christian counseling in Atlanta (or as I like to call it, counseling from a Christian perspective.) And I hear these stories quite a bit. Atlanta is a big city. It’s easy to get stressed, and my clients seem to be full of stress. Even though they’re successful at work. Even though they look like they have it all together.

And that’s where most people really benefit from taking a look at their lives. Paying attention to the things that stress them, and starting to shift.

Tips for Promoting Peace from an Atlanta Christian Counselor

1.Let go of unrealistic expectations – If I expect there to be no traffic in the mornings, I’m setting myself up to be frustrated. Come one. How am I really expecting things to be perfect? How am I expecting clear highways when traffic is just part of living in Atlanta. If I expect it, I’ll be way less frustrated. Another way I teach this is to encourage people to practice reality acceptance or radical acceptance. It’s kind of similar to accepting the things we cannot change. It doesn’t mean we like them. We’re okay with them. We get excited about them. It just means we understand they are like that. We accept that it is the way it is.

2. Balance – overachievers are not good at this. And boy do I see a lot of successful overachievers in my Atlanta Christian counseling office. Find someone who will help keep you accountable to balance. And real balance. Balance that keeps your values as your priorities. Most people list family as priority, yet they can’t spend an hour a day with family….something is off there. I’m not saying you have to spend an hour a day, but there are all kinds of studies that support spending time and doing certain things and how this promotes healthy romantic relationships and healthy children. This is not the only area I encourage people to balance. You benefit from balancing spirituality, exercise, healthy eating, physical health, work, family, fun…you get the drift. Balance in all areas.

3. Get connected with your purpose – If you pursue your spirituality and really get in tune with what it means to be a Christian in your life, right where God put you, you’ll have less time to be stressed. Get connected with your purpose in this world right now. Take time to be mindful. Step back. Pray. Connect with gratitude, thankfulness, service. Connect with purpose.

4.Ask yourself if it matters- Many times we get stressed and upset about things that aren’t the end of the world. But we allow ourselves to believe it’s the end of the world. Change your thinking. Shift your thoughts. Will this matter in five minutes, five days, five years…? Can I survive this? Is this a serious threat to my safety? Start challenging yourself when your thoughts go wild. Does it matter that I’m sitting in traffic? Maybe, if I’m late. If I’m late, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I get fired. Can I survive that? Yes. I have a pretty good work history. We’ve saved for times like that. I would get another job. We might have to buckle down on our spending or downsize, but I could live….See? Changing thinking. Changing perpective. Now I understand that everyone’s answers to these questions will be different, and sometimes you will absolutely have reason to stress, and need to take action because of that stress. That’s necessary. All I’m asking is that you work on reducing stressful thinking at times when the stress is not serving you well.

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