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December 2, 2016

The Banquet of Life: How to Handle Stress

Learn what to put on your plate

You’ve been invited to a banquet with all your favorite foods on the table before you. The host says you have ten minutes to eat your fill and then it’s time to leave. You don’t know where to start or how you’ll enjoy the meal. And where will you squeeze your dessert in?

As in this scenario, sometimes you find so many things on your plate that it seems hard to know where to start. It can lead to stress and feeling overwhelmed. Thankfully, there are things you can do to minimize stress and still be productive.

Over the next two weeks, we will examine different strategies to help you handle stress and make the most out of your banquet. You’ll explore prioritization, service, healthy habits, and relaxation.

To start, take a look at where your stress comes from. Identifying the source will help you minimize and reduce its impact or presence on your metaphorical plate. Identify the source, then consider these tips to help reduce stress.

Mother and father prioritize their time by playing with their child.

Mother and father prioritize their time by playing with their child


In the banquet metaphor, you have to be sure that you’re getting a healthy meal that’s not just filled with processed things. You need to have a balanced meal. Cut out the sugar and junk and focus on what will make your body healthier.

  • Learn to recognize the “shoulds” and “musts.” Do the “musts” first. Cut the clutter, and you’ll find you have a lot more time for the most important priorities.
  • Make a list with the most important priority at the top and work your way down.
  • Learn how to say no. You know your limits and how much you can handle. Don’t do more.
  • Create rituals. If you know what needs to be done, make it a habit. You might find you get more done that way because it’s an established habit.
  • Manage your time and set goals. For help with this, see “Boost Your Productivity” from April 2015.

“We would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.”1 -President Uchtdorf, October 2010

Get out of your head

Take some time and look around you. You might find you’re better off than others; they might only have five minutes at the banquet.

  • Try to find ways to serve others and break out of your own stress bubble. Serving others in need will help you keep your life in perspective.
  • Express your gratitude to God and others and count your blessings. You may be surprised.
  • Change negative thoughts into positive ones. Dwelling on the negative will make things worse and increase your stress. Be positive! Those math problems may be hard, but just imagine how proud you will be when you can help your fellow classmates.
  • Look at the whole picture. You might find you have more time than you imagined or discover how to combine multiple projects at once.
Joy can be found in serving others.

Joy can be found in serving others.

“He who lives only unto himself withers and dies, while he who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms in this life and in eternity.”2 -Gordon B. Hinckley, March 1977

Try applying some of these concepts in your life this week to handle your stress. Come back to the blog next week to read more about how you can enjoy the banquet of life.


  1. ^ Deiter F. Uchtdor, “Of Things That Matter Most,” General Conference, October 2010.
  2. ^ Gordon B. Hinkcley, “Forget Yourself,” BYU Speeches, March 1997.

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