Managing our Stress and Anxiety during the Coronavirus Crisis
Bulletin 4. Martha and Mary – Finding the Balance
We are all different, both in our physical appearance and our personalities. These differences mean we will cope with pressures and stress in different ways. Take a look at the story of Mary and Martha
38 As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him in her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the feet of the Lord and listened to his teaching. 40 Martha was upset over all the work she had to do, so she came and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!" 41 The Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, 42 but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her."
I love this story. Just imagine there is a knock at the door and there is Jesus accompanied by twelve rough and ready men and goodness knows how many others. ‘Hello. We’ve come for a meal’. Can you imagine how you would feel – a bit stressed! It’s no wonder that Martha was fretting, probably busying herself, trying to make sure that Jesus and His disciples got the best hospitality she could provide. She was under pressure. She wanted a bit of help from her sister Mary, who it seemed was content to sit at Jesus’ feet. I think we can all identify with Martha. Jesus, however, tells Martha to calm down, to take a step back and recognise that Mary’s response on this occasion might be the right one, just appreciating His presence and making the most of it.
When we are under pressure, many of us tend to immerse ourselves in busyness, but sometimes it is better to sort out priorities and perhaps take a more relaxed view of what is going on. Jesus didn’t value Martha any less than Mary. He just recognised that they were different people.
Even in the quite unique circumstances in which we all find ourselves today, there is a time to be busy and focused on activity, but there is also a time to relax. Are you a Martha or a Mary or a bit of both? Try and get the balance right.
Stress Tip: ‘Make the most of Mealtimes’. There is a balance and connection between managing your mental health and physical health. Try to eat a balanced diet. Getting the right nutrition into your body is important and when you eat your meals, consciously try to eat more slowly and enjoy the experience. When we are stressed we tend to eat more quickly and that’s not good for us physically. If you like the odd glass of wine or something similar, that’s fine, but during this period when we are restricted to our homes, don’t overdo it. Try to also keep this in balance. Just as Jesus enjoyed eating with others, try to make your mealtimes something which you look forward to.
2 A banquet was prepared in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, and Lazarus sat at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took a jar of costly perfume made from essence of nard, and anointed Jesus’ feet with it and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with fragrance. (John 12)