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Crisis, Chaos, and Challenge

Managing stress through inevitable change

I’m not going to lie. January has been a very stressful month. Actually, the past six months or so have been challenging. Moving, living in the chaos of an unfinished home, work-related stresses, and most recently church transitions which include many stressful elements and added responsibilities… CHANGE has been synonymous with challenges, chaos, and even crisis.

It got me thinking about a session I attended last November addressing how we react to these types of circumstances. I give credit to Sara Krausher, one of the heads of school at Heritage Christian Online School where I work. The following are my notes on what she said, and they seemed very timely considering what’s been happening in my life recently.

  • Navigating complexity requires awareness of what’s on the outside and on the inside. No matter which, we can choose DELIBERATE calm.


  • Reframe external change and challenges as OPPORTUNITIES to learn, and to minister to others.


  • Practice compassion – for others and for yourself. We don’t always get it right!


  • During crisis, we often want quick fixes. Instead, be realistic. Use “bounded optimism”. Mix confidence and hope with realism. (We don’t want pessimism, but sometimes too much optimism makes it challenging to face reality…) Have authentic confidence, and be positive and cheerful, but also be realistic.


  • Bounded optimism includes “meaning making”. Ask: Why am I doing whatever I am doing? Remind yourself of the purpose, which is helpful in difficult situations.


  • Bounded Optimism also includes connecting through personal stories and presence.
Specific strategies:
  1. Adapt: you can’t control the circumstances, but you can check your priorities, roles, time, and energy.


  1. Set daily “intentions”. (What do I intend…) Ex: How do I intend to stay focused despite potential challenges today? How do I intend to react? What are my non-negotiables and where can I give ground? How will my actions affect others?


  1. Regulate your emotions: breathe; survey your body; be authentic


  1. Practice reflection: Why was it difficult? How did I feel? Why did I respond as I did? What are my blind spots and how can I address them?


  1. Reframe your perspective: recognize your stress reactions; redirect your thinking; choose a position of “curiosity”. (Rather than assuming you know what’s going on… Am I jumping to conclusions?); build time to revisit decisions with an open and learning mindset.


  1. Manage your energy: work/life balance; self-care etc.


As I navigate my current life situation, these points were very good reminders that God is still in control. I can rest in Him, no matter what comes my way.


  1. PBent says:

    It’s always good to set goals, re think and write things down. One of my daily mottos has been ‘Organize Your Attitude’ since taking a course through Misty Winkler a few years ago. Then everything else falls in to place.

    1. tracykrauss says:

      That’s a great motto.

  2. Pam says:

    She makes such good points. I took notes on your notes. I really like “Set Daily Intentions” so that I can just look at one day at a time and set realistic intentions for that day rather than feeling overwhelmed with a whole week ahead.
    I also like Bounded Optimism. 👍
    Thank you for sharing this, Tracy.
    Pam M.

    1. tracykrauss says:

      You are so welcome. It was inspiring when I first heard it but then I realized I needed to rethink and hear it again!

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