By Stephanie Reck
Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
Stress is not always bad, but when it becomes overwhelming it can affect your health, your mood, your productivity, and your relationships. Since our bodies do not distinguish between daily stressors and traumatic life events, your body will still react to daily stressors as if you are facing a life and death situation. When you face repeatedly stressful events, it can increase your blood pressure, put you at risk for heart attack or stroke, lowers your immune system, and can lead to irregular menstrual cycles in women.
Everyone experiences stress differently. What may cause stress in one person’s life, may not cause any stress in another person’s life. Your ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors such as a supportive network (family and friends), your attitude and outlook, and knowledge about the stressful situation (such as how long it may last and what to expect).
Causes of stress:
1. Work related-heavy workload, poor management, and working long hours.
2. Family related-the death of a loved one, divorce, wayward child, infertility, adoption, getting married, taking care of a family member, lack of family support, and any type of relational difficulty.
3. Our attitudes and perceptions about life circumstances-how you view what happens in your life can impact how much stress affects you.
4. Fear and uncertainty (the unknown). Not knowing what may happen, especially if you have been through a previous trauma or crisis.
5. Being too busy, taking on other people’s responsibilities, and not taking any time for yourself.
6. Internal causes-negativity, chronic worry, unrealistic expectations/perfectionism, and rigid thinking (lack of flexibility).
Now that we know some of the causes and consequences of stress, how can one reduce tension?
15 healthy ways to reduce stress:
1. Physical exercise. Walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly great stress reducers. Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood.
2. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is restorative to our immune system.
3. Eat a healthy diet. Skip on alcohol, nicotine, and take a multi-vitamin.
4. Spend time in nature. Talking a relaxing walk in nature or just observing nature can be very soothing to our minds.
5. Spend time with God, praying, singing, and journaling. Meditate on scriptures that apply to your situation.
6. Drink a cup of tea, try green tea, Kava Kava or Chamomile tea.
7. Read a good book.
8. Watch a comedy, laughter truly is good medicine.
9. Do something you enjoy every day.
10. Reframe the stressful situation by focusing on the positives or the good in the situation.
11. Breathe deeply. Taking a deep breathe can lower the stress hormone cortisol.
12. Take a warm bath and light some scented candles.
13. Maintain a grateful attitude by focusing on your blessings not the stress. Write out daily at least 5 things that you are thankful for.
14. Accept the things that are out of your control or that you cannot change.
15. Do an art project-painting, building, or redesigning.
While it can be healthy to have some stress in your life, too much can be detrimental to your health. Finding healthy ways to manage stress is key to improving your ability to cope when difficulties arise.
Run to the feet of Jesus when you are overwhelmed and stressed, and He will show you what you need to do specifically to rid yourself of your stress.
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.
What can you do today to eliminate the stress in your life? Be proactive and find at least 1 thing from the above list and start today reducing your stress.
Stephanie Reck, LMSW, LBT,BCCC. Christian counselor, author, speaker, and teacher. Stephanie has a passion to bring hope and encouragement and to see people made whole. Contact Stephanie @ [email protected]. [email protected], Hope Ministry. All Rights Reserved.