Stress. For so many of us it’s a “four letter word” that steals our joy, weighs us down, and shifts our focus from our blessings to areas of discontent. Stress keeps us in a hurry, points us towards the negative, and has us frantically reaching for the chocolate. It’s a serious issue that we’ve written off as “normal.” It’s not. It’s damaging not only to our emotional health, but our spiritual and physical health as well.
Sometimes our stress is the product of larger issues going on in our life. Some of us suffer from anxiety, may be depressed, or may be walking through a significant valley. However, sometimes our stress is a product of our attitude, misuses of our attention and energy, an inability to say no, and an out-of-balance life. When we’re up against the type of stress that comes from the latter, there are a few simple things that can help alleviate a bit of the stress. When you’re feeling stressed, I want you to stop and ask yourself the following questions.
Have I eaten any REAL food today?
I’m not talking about the last three bites of your child’s grilled cheese or that handful of M&M’s you snagged as you walked by the pantry – I mean REAL honest to goodness food. When we don’t get enough healthy food to eat, we get crabby. When you find yourself in that grumpy and stressed out state, go grab a snack. Choose a fruit or veggie, or something with some protein. Grab a yogurt, a string cheese, a handful of nuts, and a bunch of grapes or a banana. You wouldn’t let your kids go without a meal, so why should you let yourself?
Have I had any water to drink?
I don’t know about you, but I am a MUCH more reasonable person when my body is hydrated. Caffeine, soda, and the other drinks that get us going in the morning just don’t hydrate our bodies the same way water does. When your hormones are raging and your world is starting to spin, grab a glass of water….and then one more!
Have I prayed?
I find myself unable to pull myself together completely on my own. I need Jesus. I need His guidance and strength to get me through my days. So often when I’m stressed, it’s during a time when my prayer-life hasn’t been made a priority. Here is one of my anchor verses:
Philippians 4:6-7 MSG Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
If you’re not a person of faith, take a few minutes to quietly meditate. Steal away a few moments of quiet, breathe deeply, and push the negative thoughts away.
Have I gotten any fresh air?
Even if you don’t consider yourself “outdoorsy”, fresh air and a bit of sunlight can do wonders for a bad mood. Nature is calming. Feel the breeze on your skin. Walk in the grass. Look at the stars. Take a few minutes and get outside. For me, there is no faster way to clear my head than to get outdoors.
Have I done something I ENJOY?
I tend to be grumpier and more stressed out on the days that are jam-packed with work, chores, and the “busyness” of life. There will ALWAYS be something else to do. Our to-do list will never be complete. We can choose to work ourselves to death and shoot for the world’s cleanest house and emptiest inbox, but in five minutes, another towel will be dirty and another person will be awaiting a reply. We need to re-train ourselves to spend time doing what we ENJOY doing. It is not selfish to take time for yourself. It is not selfish to have a hobby. It’s imperative. Even if you only allow yourself time to read one chapter, tend your garden for a few minutes, or scrapbook a few pages – make the time! You’ll come away feeling refreshed and more ready to tackle everything else.
What helps you de-stress? Leave me a comment letting me know how you tackle those stressful days.