Decompressing: A Needful Activity
Key Verse to Read and Treasure
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray (Matthew 14:22-23, ESV)
What do you do to decompress? To decompress means to undergo release; reduce or relieve the pressure you are under. Sometimes people need to or should) decompress after a day or week of work, especially when they work in a hostile or stressful environment. Sometimes people need to decompress after a day of giving care to others, completing a demanding or intense project, after a heated argument or encounter with someone. Give themselves a way to cool down and shake off the encounter or conversation.
Before going to the seminary, I can remember when my husband was in government, working for the city of Indianapolis which was a highly charged political atmosphere. I developed the habit of watching how he walked from the garage to the house when his workday was over. It wasn’t till much later I recognized I was observing how his shoulders were: was he bent over? Did his facial expression show peace or a frown? Did his body language say he was carrying the weight of the world? I learned the best thing I could do was give him time to decompress, let him shake off the day, reacclimate to a softer climate and atmosphere where he was loved, appreciated, and respected.
In the Gospels we read how Jesus routinely went off alone or took his disciples to a quiet setting like the lake or mountains where they could be away from demanding crowds and criticizing and picking enemies. The Savior of the world needed some time to decompress before he returned to the chaos and madness of a dark world and clamoring people.
We are certainly not greater than Jesus. We might be strong people, and most things might run off our back like water runs off a duck’s back, but we are still human and at times we need to decompress for mental, emotional, and relational health. There is no shame in admitting our need or doing so. Once you identify what decompressing activity suits you best, do it. It doesn’t have to be major or costly. It could be something as simple as doing some deep breathing or meditating, stepping outdoors for a moment, reading something other than social media that adds to your stress, talking it out with someone encouraging and positive, taking a power nap, disconnecting from the activity you are involved in, sipping on a cool or warm cup of tea or beverage, enjoying a crossword puzzle or playing a favorite game on your phone or computer.
For a lengthier time of decompressing, you might need to take a mental health day from work or studies or escape to your favorite spot for a day or two. One thing is for sure: God supports your health, and He supports your need to decompress, so determine to do so in a way that’s healthy, works well for you, and you won’t regret later.
Praying Matthew 14:22-23
Jesus, You are the Savior of the world and even though You were not overcome or overtaxed—there wasn’t anything You could not handle—yet, You took time to build in activities that helped You decompress. Thank You for Your healthy example of decompressing that we can follow today. Help us discover those activities or ways of decompressing that suit our lifestyle, personality, and finances. Amen
Ask God to help you recognize when you need to decompress and show you ways to do so that promote mental and emotional health and wellbeing.