Stress can make or break a person.
Stress can eat a hole right through your stomach. Stress can cause you to make poor decisions, to make mistakes. Stress can keep you from sleeping. Stress can make you prone to overeating.
Stress can also make us aware of trouble spots in our lives.
In moderation, stress can build our resiliency. Stress can teach us patience. Stress can drive us to achieve great things.
Stress can also be good for us. We experience good stress, or eustress, when we fall in love, go to an amusement park, or joyfully anticipate the birth of a child.
In eustress, our hearts pound. We feel a surge of pleasure and excitement rise in us. We can barely stifle our enthusiasm.
But when we are experiencing too much stress (even good stress when to excess), this chronic stress can have detrimental effects on our health and our ability to function. We miss deadlines at work. We find ourselves running late, and then we miss the bus, or we get into an accident on the way to work because we are thinking about our obligations instead of focusing on the road. Our blood pressure rises and stays elevated. We become less able to tolerate change. We become vulnerable to all sorts of illnesses. We carry our stress overload on our shoulders, as if it were a real physical burden, and the added tension brings on back pain and headaches. When I am under too much stress, the tightness in my shoulders even makes my hands go to sleep.
So, if we are under so much pressure and it is stealing our joy, how can we ever hope to get out from under it?
I have a simple list of suggestions, and although I say it is a simple list, until you can see your way clear, it can be anything but simple to accomplish. Even so, your health is worth every effort to get your stress back under control.
- Learn to say, “no.” Or at least learn to say, “let me get back to you.”
- Set healthy boundaries, for your time and even to include whom you allow into your personal space.
- Acknowledge your innate value. You are not a doormat, to be used by everyone who enters your life.
- Prioritize your obligations.
- Delegate anything that needs done but is not worthy of being on your hectic schedule. (By this I mean that older kids can do dishes and fold laundry. Or even hire a housekeeper or gardener to come once a week.)
- Laugh often. Watch comedies instead of dramas, as even violence and strife seen on the screen can raise our stress levels because we unknowingly internalize it. It’s human nature.
- Take a walk, either alone or with a loved one.
- Exercise, but know that exercise does not have to mean sit-ups. Gardening, if you enjoy it, can be excellent for the physical and mental being.
- Memorize a key verse or make up your own mantra to get you through the stressful times. (My favorite is Philippians 4:13.)
- Make a list of things you enjoy, and then prioritize some of them into your week. Hobbies can be great stress relievers.
- Show yourself grace and mercy by not trying to be a superhero.
- Write out what is so stressful for you because as you write, things will become clearer, and then hopefully, through your writings, you will find a solution. This can be only for your eyes, or if it helps, share it with someone you trust.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
“‘Martha, Martha,’ The Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.’” Luke 10:41-42
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
My prayer for you today is that you may find at least a moment of laughter and joy in each and every day.
In His Grace,