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What does your schedule look like? Kids, Work, Church, Housework, Friends, Family, Health Issues, School, Football, Soccer, Cheerleading, Band… Are they all adding pressure to your already busy schedule? János “Hans” Selye’s, who studied the effect of stress, position was “It’s not stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it.” He asked, “So how are you handling it?”
Are you going through your day just trying to cope, on the verge of burnout? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Or, do you have a means of dealing with your daily stresses? How we handle the present “to-do” is crucial to how stress affects our daily lives. “Ok great, but how do I handle stress?” I can hear you asking. William James, MD advice is “the greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” Now, let’s look at some specific ways to help with our daily stress.
Take small bites. There are two parts to this suggestion. First, prioritize your day and focus on the first items on your list, not the whole list. The second part is to find a small way to relax that is right for you. A friend, with a high-pressure job in New York City, finds that ordering his lunch and taking a walk to pick up lunch helps him get through the day with less stress. He could send someone to pick up his lunch. However, just a five-minute walk refocuses him and he finds he does not carry the morning stresses to the afternoon. Your five-minute relaxation technique may be journaling, praying or singing your favorite song. Another suggestion is to do a breathing exercise. Place your hand on your chest and breathe in deeply. Exhale slowly and repeat 10 times. Focus on your breathing not on your stresses. Find the best way for you to take five minutes for peaceful quiet reflection during a stressful day.
Just do it. Yes, it may seem that a five-minute stress breaker is just adding one more thing to your already busy schedule. You start your day and your internal GPS tells you what to do next. Does your internal GPS ever say, take a U-turn and just relax? Probably not. Program a waypoint in your internal GPS to take that five-minute break. This is not a new idea. Martin Luther King’s advice is “peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
Listen to your body. Kris Carr points out that if you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness, and stress impact your physical health, think again. Her advice is to learn how to cope because there will always be dark days. Your body is a great indicator of your level of stress. It is important to be in touch with what makes you feel overwhelmed. Stress may cause you to have a headache, you could lose focus, you could lose your appetite, or like me, you could want to eat everything in sight. When you begin to feel the bodily indicators of stress, go back to your small bite relaxing technique.
Ask for help. Don’t try to be Supermom or Superdad and do all things. Saying “No” is ok. Make sure you have a support network to help you through those times of stress, friends you can trust. We can so focus on our to-do list that we neglect our friends. Remember God’s plan is for us to be in relationships with others. Why? Probably so we have help in times of needs. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s advice “He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”
If your body is telling you that stress is having its effect, see your doctor. Don’t forget there are professionals that can help you if feel disconnected and are having difficulty working through the challenges of life.
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
Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.