Stress is a very normal part of life. All people experience it — some to a greater extent than others. In this crazy world in which we live, there is no shortage of factors that can cause stress — or distress, which ever term you like best. Stress can show up in ways that are physical, psychological, or emotional/spiritual. And all of us have experienced some symptoms in each category at some point in life.
Anytime stress impacts us, it also impacts those around us — especially those closest to us. It affects us as spouses, as employees, as parents, and as friends. Sometimes the people around us are able to recognize the effects of stress in our lives even before we ourselves.
Change of any kind can produce stress. In times of political and economic change, as we are currently experiencing, stress can take a real toll on the culture. As I mentioned a few days ago in my post about unemployment, people who are without work — or facing the threat of a lay-off — are at high risk of suffering from stress in many forms.
The fact is that none of us can know what the future holds. But, praise God, we know He holds the future. If you are experiencing a time of high stress, I encourage you to take adequate care of yourself. Here are a few tips:
- Be spiritually centered through prayer and meditation on the Word of God.
- Get proper rest and nutrition. Don’t skip meals!
- Carve out time to exercise at least several days per week. Exercise is a natural stress reliever.
- Find safe people with whom to share your frustrations.
- Do your best to leave work stress at the office. Don’t dump the stress on your spouse or kids!
- Find ways to unplug from work. In this world of advanced technology, it’s easy to always be “on” and constantly connected through e-mail, voice-mail, etc. Set aside some protected time to get away from it all.
- Make a daily list of things you are thankful for. It’s easy to focus on the negatives in life.
- We must be intentional in finding things that are positive. Surround yourself with positive people, positive music, and positive literature.
- If you find the news distressing, as many people do, limit your access to it. One time per day of listening to a typical radio or TV newscast will provide plenty of negative information!
- Find time each day to connect with your spouse and kids for at least a few meaningful minutes. These moments will remind you what’s most important in life — and keep you focused during difficult times.
- Set aside time each week for an extended focus on building your marriage relationship. Something as simple as a half-hour walk together, a lunch date, or a leisurely drive can really give you and your partner a boost.
- Enjoy sex with your spouse. Yes, you read that right! The sexual relationship is gift of God to help us connect with our spouses. When we take time to enjoy that gift, we experience relaxation and stress relief as an added bonus.
- Get involved in something bigger than yourself. Studies show that those who are involved in church and community activities typically handle stress better than those who live more isolated lifestyles.
- Find a few times per week to refresh your spirit. This may be through reading a good book, watching a light-hearted comedy show, taking a long hot bath, or some other favorite activity.
These are just a few ways to help manage stress. Hopefully you have found some other things that work well for you. I leave you today with a favorite Bible verse:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 4:4-5, NIV)
If you are married, please take a moment to answer this poll question: