Stress, we all deal with it each day of our lives. It weighs us down, burdening us with frustration, worry, fear, anxiety, and even depression. When I feel stressed out, I feel like there are knots in my chest and head. The more stress I feel the more these knots constrict. My patience nosedives which causes my anger to accelerate and my thinking becomes muddled. My loved ones, in my flawed, stressed thinking, become little more than irritants. In short, I turn into Scrooge McDuck.
In my opinion, feeling stressed is often more the fault of the individual than the circumstances around them. This isn’t to say that some situations are not inherently more stressful than others. However, despite the level of stress that a circumstance may carry with it we have the ability to choose how we handle that stress. If we have a positive worldview, such as Christianity, we can rest assured that no matter what happens we are still loved by God and that His will is working in all things. In the midst of a stressful situation Christians can remind themselves of that and take solace in it. Some other immediate ways of handling stress include taking deep breaths, counting backwards from 10, listing what you are thankful for, and solitude.
Living a generally stress-free life is a good way to prepare yourself for handling events that are particularly stressful. What can a person do to help themselves lead such a life?
Exercise – Studies have repeatedly shown that physical activity helps to significantly reduce stress. As a body moves and works endorphins are released, which cause positive feelings. A person does not need to go to the gym and run on a treadmill for an hour or lift heavy weights to achieve this, though. Any sustained physical activity can have this positive effect, even gardening, walking, and house cleaning.
Reduce Caffeine – Caffeine is a well-known stimulant, too much of it can make a person’s mind over-active and prone to stress. If you require a morning or midday pick-me-up then perhaps water, herbal tea, or diluted fruit juices would be a better option for you. All of those selections have the capability of helping you feel refreshed and energized.
Write Things Down – This is a big one for me! I am not someone who can remember many things at once or keep multiple future dates accurately in mind. Trying to do so without writing them down makes me feel anxious every time the phone rings because I think it is someone calling to complain about something I forgot. This is especially true when the phone call takes place outside of the usual time. Therefore, writing down important dates and events helps relieve the stress I feel when trying to keep them in my mind. It helps me be more reliable for the people around me and a better husband and father, which also helps to reduce stress.
Talk to Someone – There is a reason many of us feel the need to “vent” once in awhile. Daily activities and happenings have a habit of building up pressure in our psyches. If we don’t allow that pressure to bleed off from time-to-time the results can be explosive! However, do not allow your venting to be wholly negative in nature, be sure to include some positive thoughts and comments. Speaking from personal experience, when you only have negative things to say time and again while venting, your thoughts and feelings toward whatever you are venting about can come increasingly negative and poisonous. This will only result in resentment and more stress.
Laugh More– There is a lot of truth to the old saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” A good, hearty laugh relaxes the whole body, relieving physical tension and stress. This relaxing effect can last for around 45 minutes after the laugh. Positive thoughts are usually the cause of such laughter and therefore can reinforce a more positive outlook on life. That positive outlook can help prevent future feelings of stress.
This is far from being a comprehensive list of de-stressing methods. I recommend everyone conducts further research into lessening the stress in their lives. Implementing just a few of the above mentioned methods can help you achieve a happier and healthier life.