Stress is the malady of the modern world. It afflicts everyone, rich or poor, and as the pace of the world quickens, it seems to becoming even more ubiquitous. We stress about work, school, our friends and loved ones, the world around us – everything.
It’s something that affects everyone, but it affects everyone differently, so there isn’t one universal solution for dealing with it. Instead of searching for a single answer, look at a variety of options, try them out, and see what works. Here’s a list of tips on how to deal with stress, some of which might be exactly what you need.
The Power of Positive Thinking
It may sound like a cliche, but there’s a lot to be said about thinking positively. A lot of modern stress is caused by negative mental stimuli, and a lot of that negative stimuli is self-inflicted. It’s also a downward spiral, as stress can lead to depression, which can lead to more stress, etc.
Negative thinking tends to be an automatic response. It’s reactionary. Positive thinking needs to be proactive. When things start to look dark, or something bad happens, instead of letting the mind wander through all of the worst-case scenarios force it to start looking for the best-case scenarios. In the morning, in front of the mirror, when the brain starts complaining about the weight or the hair or the baggy eyes, put on the brakes and use that energy to point out all the positives.
Auto-suggestion and the use of affirmations can also be helpful in alleviating stressful situations. Telling yourself, “all is well,” “relax,” “trust God,” or “all things are working together for my highest good can help train your mind to focus on the positive as well. As the Bible says, what a man sows in his heart that shall he also reap. If you want to reap the good fortune of a sound mind, you must plant thoughts that support your goal.
Prayer- Give Your Concerns to God
Stress also enters in when we have a problem or concern that we can’t solve or control. The Bible tells us to cast every care upon the Lord because he cares for us. Many times we will choose every other course of action except the one that is so obvious. The prayers of a righteous man or woman avails much, therefore, prayer should always be our first line of defense. However, prayer alone doesn’t always make us feel better as we have a tendency to pray and then continue to fret. I don’t believe we do this on purpose but more out of habit. It is sometimes difficult to give our cares to God and then leave them there. That is why having a variety of tools in our emotional health chest is so important and this article gives you many to choose from.
Find Time to Relax/Learn to Meditate
Everyone should be able to find at least a little time in their schedule for a mental break, and if that time doesn’t exist it has to be made. Even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning or just before bed, take time to make time to take a few minutes and just breathe.
Learning to meditate makes finding time to relax even easier. Meditation is like a massage for the soul. Ten minutes of meditation can be as refreshing as a night’s rest, but without the fitful dreams. Whether meditation is used to empty your mind or lose yourself in prayer, it stops the brain from obsessing over the negatives for a while. Be sure and check out my large selection of guided Christian meditation Cds and downloads.
Eat Healthy and Exercise Regularly
Stress is bad for your health, so being in poor health and getting stressed can’t be good. Eating a lot of fast food and junk food, surviving on soda, and spending free time on the couch is a recipe for disaster. It’s another downward spiral, this time physical.
Poor health causes physical stress. Eating nutritionally gives the body the ingredients it needs to make us happy. Exercise keeps our body fit enough to fight off whatever might make us weak, helps keep us from getting ill and adding even more stress to our lives.
Find Social Support
Although the world has more people crawling around on it than ever, we interact with each other less. Instead of visiting our friends, or even calling them on the phone, we make a comment on social media and then continue about our day. Instead of going into the community’s stores to browse for purchases, we search the internet and compare prices on our phones.
All contact is good contact, and even people connected ephemerally through the internet can have huge impacts on each other. Wherever they are, friends need to be communicated with regularly, and problems need to be shared with them. One of stresses most heavy burdens is the thought of being in it alone, and in a world so full of people there’s no reason to be in it alone.
Nobody’s life has to be empty. Even a lonely person in a new place that hasn’t met anyone has options. Churches, community centers, local organizations – there are places all over that have their doors open. Finding a group of like-minded people and engaging with them makes it easier to see that the world doesn’t have to be so heavy.
Do Something Responsibility-Free
Find and interest or hobby, one that doesn’t demand attention or resources, one that only exists for enjoyment. Whether it’s collecting stamps, comics or action figures; studying history or language; or learning to play an instrument, start doing something regularly that doesn’t have the strings of responsibility attached.
Get a Massage
In my city, and probably yours as well, you can find foot massage signs posted almost everywhere. Little do most people know is that these foot massages actually include a full body massage with your clothes on. The best part is you can get a full hour of bliss for sometimes as little as $14.99 on up to $25.00, which still isn’t bad. Also, look in your neighborhood circulars for coupons for even more off. At this price, a weekly foot/body massage is in most people’s budget, and it is a definite stress reducer.
Take a Yoga Class
Yoga has turned into the go to exercise for working out the body as well as relaxing the mind. If you didn’t know, the best posture in yoga for many people is called shavasana. This is referred to as the final resting pose. As a Christian yoga teacher, and yoga junkie myself, I find peace and solace on my yoga mat, especially after a hard workout. Try it.
Visualization Yourself in a More Peaceful Place
Scientists say that the mind doesn’t know what is real or imagined. Just think about biting into a lemon. Does your mouth begin to salivate. Why not use this to your advantage when it comes to stress relief. First, find a quiet location to sit and then close your eyes. Imagine yourself in one of your favorite places, the beach, a meadow, the forest, or an amusement park, etc. Now place yourself right in your scenery. If you are at the beach, watch the waves flow in and out. You can use visualization to also diffuse potential negative situations. For example, instead of imagining your daughter making a rude remark, which may get you in a funk, see her making a pleasant comment instead. Turn it into a mental game for yourself.
Deep Breathing Exercise
Try this deep breathing exercise. First get seating in a comfortable position and place your hands in your lap. Close your eyes if possible. Take a deep breath in counting to five, hold the breath for 5 counts, and then exhale for 5 counts. Then repeat for one minute. This exercise is said to calm the central nervous system almost instantly.
Live in the Present Moment
Along with the same lines of turning those negative thoughts into positive ones, do your best to live in the present moment. Living in the present moment means keeping your mind fully present on what you are doing in any given moment whether it’s cooking, talking to a friend, or engaged in a phone conversation. In addition, turn off the cell phone when having dinner or engaged in some other activity. Multi-tasking is one sure way to increase your stress levels as well as take the enjoyment from what you are doing in that moment.
Listen to Soft Music or Inspirational Music
Just on youtube alone you can find hours of relaxation music right at your fingertips. When you need to calm yourself down, let this soothing music play in the background. I remember a story in the Bible where it is said that King Saul heard David playing his harp, and it immediately subdued the raging thoughts within his mind. Christian or gospel music can also do wonders to get your mind off of your circumstances and build your trust and faith in God.
Take a Nature Walk
City life can be hectic as we run, not walk, from one tasks to the next. Smelling the roses is often not a reality for most of us, and even if we did take a walk we wouldn’t notice them anyway because we’d be too caught up in the thoughts in our head. If that is the case, hop in your car to the nearest park or scenic area and just take a long, slow, observant walk. There is something about nature that soothes the soul and helps us to maintain our balance and priorities.
Start Your Day with a Power Hour
Almost all successful people begin each day with a power hour. A power hour is your time to connect with your feeling and thoughts and check in with God for healing, guidance, and direction. A power hour gives you what YOU need to stay mental and spiritually healthy and whole. My power hour consists of journal writing, silent or guided meditation, reading an inspirational book, prayer, meditating on a few scriptures, and whatever other tools I need to make sure I start my day refreshed and renewed. I don’t want to carry around the mental and emotional residue of yesterday, last week, or last year and allow it to weigh me down. Your power hour is your time to work through any problems or concerns plaguing you and it can relieve stress by allowing you to let go and start anew very single day. It will also help you to live with more life balance which is a big stress buster right there. Check out my daily devotional set, The Christian Power Hour, ready-made to get you started.
Being unorganized is one sure way to produce a stressful life. If you have to spend an hour trying to find misplaced paperwork or can’t figure out what needs to be done right way, the best thing you can do is take some time to structure your schedule and your surroundings. Experts encourage us to make a list of what we want to complete the next day BEFORE we go to bed. That way, what we need to do marinates during the night and we wake up ready to get started. You can find all types of tips on organizing your home or office on the web. In fact, I devote a whole chapter to this in my book Help Me God Change My Life. Check it out if you’re looking for a life makeover.
You don’t have to let your life be plagued with stress day in and day out. There are definite activities you can do, most of them are free, that will significantly reduce your stress level. You just have to believe you are worthy enough to take out time for yourself. Before you go onto the next thing, pick two things on this list that you will do this week, and no matter what, do them. Let go of the stress and live for the joy a little bit at a time, every chance you get.