Let me share a familiar picture with you.
You are sitting at your desk, trying to get work done. It keeps piling up. You have pressure on you to get it done… and be perfect in every way. On top of this, you have thoughts swirling through your mind about bills you have to pay this week, papers due the next morning for a really important class, and you and your friend’s relationship has so many changes happening, not all good changes. There is this big weight on your shoulders that you can’t seem to escape. At times you feel like you can’t breathe. You slowly go about your tasks each day, feeling low on energy, and rubbing your aching head while you grab some carb-filled, sugary treat.
I bet you can relate to at least one of these scenarios at some point. And I bet we could all name several more… where the outcome is STRESS.
Stress or Relax?
Choosing between stress or relaxation doesn’t seem like a hard decision. After all, who would want to be stressed and feeling horrible all the time, emotionally and physically? But it isn’t easy to dump stress. Something goes wrong at work or you have a tight deadline at school and it returns, begging you to take it back. It can be very persuasive. So hard to resist and even harder to keep away.
It takes energy to resist stress and not let it consume you. It hides in many corners, taking on several forms. It’s easier most times to just give in and not fight it. But at what cost?
We all deal with stress in our every day lives. Stress over school or work, finances, relationships. If we are not careful, it can control our lives and make us and those around us miserable. It also can have serious health effects.
Some are obvious: struggling with sleep, headaches, maybe sometimes you even have a loss of appetite. But some are below the serface and not as noticeable. Stress can increase cortisol and blood sugar levels, upsetting the body’s normal digestion and throwing our thyroid glands and hormones off kilter.
Unfortunately, we can’t live stress free in this world. But before you pull your hair out over worry about all your problems try some of these simple ways to relieve your daily stress.
- ExerciseGet your blood pumping! Exercise is one of the best stress relievers. It releases powerful chemicals in the brain that act as the body’s own painkillers and mood-lifter. Regular exercise regulates the body’s metabolic and psychological processes such as reinforcing moods, blood sugar levels and helping regulate sleep cycles.
- Diet If your body doesn’t feel good, neither will your mind. Having a nutrient-dense diet can help your body deal with stress. Consume good foods that contain vitamin B, magnesium, protein and healthy fats. And avoid processed foods and sugars and too much caffeine that can overload your body and suck it of all that it needs to stay healthy.
- Write Writing out your problems and thoughts (both positive and negative) and the events of the day on paper can help identify the cause of stress, even when we are unsure. It also helps us to look at it from a third person point of view and perhaps see our stress in ways we don’t normally.
- Do Something You Enjoy Distraction from the day’s problems can keep negative and burdening thoughts out of your mind. Give yourself (and your brain) a break, read a book or enjoy a game with some friends or family.
- OilsThere are certain oils that are capable of reducing inflammation, balancing hormones and improving immunity. They can also help to relax your body and clear your mind, making it easier to sleep (which is an essential in keeping stress under control).
- Pray/ Read ScriptureI am a big believer in prayer, talking to the One who created the body. It is always best to turn to the Creator. God knows how our bodies work and He knows just how to help us fix the problems. He just wants us to ask. It is also truth that getting the focus off of yourself and your problems and turning our gaze to God, or others, can help with stress. Sometimes we dwell too much on our problems and let them control our minds. Sometimes the best thing for our stress levels is change our perspective.