BY SAMANTHA WRIGHT
Stress is unavoidable. With work, the lack of work, bills, and mounting obligations – the pressures of life can take their toll. But stress, when sustained for a long period of time, can lead to serious health problems. Heart disease, depression, migraines, high blood pressure, asthma, obesity, menstrual problems, and skin conditions are just a few examples.
No matter what you’re facing, God is available to help you conquer it. Life’s challenges are intended to make you stronger, not weaker. Therefore, try these eight ways to de-stress. Your mind and body could use a little relief.
1 START IT RIGHT
In Mark 1:35, we are told, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed” (New International Version). Although you don’t need to physically leave your home, it’s very beneficial to spiritually step away with God in the morning. Find a private place where you can start your day with the Lord, and allow His Spirit (not the chaos of the world) to set the tone for your day. Let’s face it, we love our families and friends, but their mess can start our days with a lot of stress. Therefore, start your day right by praying and reading the Word of God.
2 BE THANKFUL There is so much to do, so little time to do it, and not a lot of money and help to get it done. But “giving thanks” for what you already possess will have a powerful effect. It will remind you of the miracles that God has delivered, and give you hope for what He can (and will) do in the future. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings” (Easy to Read Version).
3 FOCUS ON TODAY
As women, we tend to think about a million things at once. However, this practice leads to unnecessary stress. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34, New Century Version). So, keep your mind focused on what needs to be done today ... not a few days, weeks, months, or years from now. According to Dr. Martin Rossman, author of The Worry Solution, 85 percent of the things people worry about never happen – and when things do happen, 80 percent of people say that they handled it better than they expected.
4 GIVE BACK
If you’ve fallen into a “woe is me” pity party, it’s time for you to give back. Volunteer at a hospital, soup kitchen, nursing home, or homeless shelter. The people who you serve will give you a new lease on life. They’ll remind you of many things that the Lord has protected you from, and give you a sense of purpose in the midst of your challenges. When you encourage someone else, you’ll also become encouraged.
5 EMBRACE NATURE
Feeling alone in your struggles can heighten your stress. And although you know that God is there, a little reminder (that you can actually see) will help. So, take a stroll outside. Look at the amazement that surrounds you – the sky, birds, sun, moon, wind, and rain. Only a living God could mastermind the beauty of nature. Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The skies announce what His hands have made. Each new day tells more of the story, and each night reveals more and more about God’s power” (Easy-to- Read Version). Take a deep breath, soak it all in, and de-stress.
Stretching is a stress-buster. It stimulates receptors in the nervous system, which decreases the production of stress hormones. Thus, stretching your muscles to relieve tension is a great way to de-stress. Gentle stretching can be done once a day or several times a day – in as little as five minutes. When done every day, it can help you increase productivity, improve stamina, and reduce the incidence of stress related illnesses.
7 WRITE IT DOWN
Making a “to-do” list” will help put your mind at ease. Each day, right down everything that you need (not wish!) to get done. Then, rank and tackle those items according to their priority. As you cross completed tasks off your list, you’ll feel an increased level of motivation and energy. Plus, your list will keep you focused on one task at a time – which will reduce your stress.
8 TAKE A SIP
No, we’re not talking about alcohol ... although many Christians do recommend it (if used in moderation). But that’s a different article – and debate – for another time. But when it comes to stress, we recommend sipping tea. Chamomile, Ginseng, Skullcap, Catnip, Linden, and Valerian Root teas are stress relievers. They will help soothe your nerves, and calm your mind.