“STRESS” — We all have it, we all feel it at some time or the other in our lives and the effects of it can wreak havoc on our health, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Health writer, Moss Greene, says that “the consequences of stress are the most common cause of disease, accounting for at least 75 to 90% of all doctors’ visits.” Whether we are dealing with good stress or bad stress there is an effect on our bodies. Managing these moments of stress, good or bad determines how it effects our health. For most of us this requires we change some habits in our lives. This change can be in the way we think or respond to thoughts and events, the way we allow our emotions to take over a situation, the lifestyle we are leading, the circumstances we are in or the way we react to these circumstances.
As strange as it sounds, some forms of stress are good for us, like exercise – it can be challenging yet beneficial for our body, mind and spirit. Also, there is joy in so many of the happy occasions in our lives, yet the events leading up to these occasions can be challenging to our schedules, finances, and/or emotions. When our brain is triggered to respond to adrenaline – good or bad – it may think we are in a flight or fight situation and try to keep us safe. When we feel this response day in and day out there are consequences to our bodies. We may respond by:
• changing our eating habits- “stress eaters”,
• physically responding by grinding our teeth or tightening our jaws,
• changes in our sleep habits,
• and my huge nemesis – ANXIETY – for me it’s pressure in my chest from said anxiety.
Pretty soon our bodies are not able to recover from the demand these stressors are placing on our system and we start to see weight loss or gain, depression, emotional upheaval, headaches, tiredness, catching more viruses like colds and flus; this list can go on with more and more dramatic and serious diseases.
There are several practical ways we can combat stress in our lives. We can move more by upping our personal exercise program, we can find a safe person we really trust to talk things over with, and my Mom taught me that the best thing we can do is to pray first thing. My personal favorite is to spend more time talking to God and spending more time reading His Word. I journal my personal worship time and it is really neat to see a documentation of how God is working in my life throughout the ebbs and flows. Finally, as hard as it seems at times we can just let it go. There are things that in the big picture of life just do not matter. Now these aren’t just simple
easy fixes, they require planning, and a concentrated effort to make these changes happen in our lives every day. I can’t remember the number of times you have to do something to make it a habit, but I know it is way more than a week or two for sure. It needs to become a long-term habit – a lifestyle change – something that becomes an innate part of our daily life. We need to make a habit of laughing and enjoying the moments, to have fun and enjoy our time on this earth, eat not only well but eat right, we need to move (brain authority, Ann Anzalone says “motion is lotion for our brain”; we need to move for our brain to function correctly), we need to make Philippians 4:8 a daily mantra (“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”). If it isn’t on this list – drop it like a hot potato! We can stop trying to be perfect and just do our best and allow ourselves to be human and real, we can slow our schedules down a bit – do the kids really need to play three sports a year or would the whole family benefit from spending more time hiking, camping, walking, antiquing or collecting, crafting or working on a home project together? I find if I spend more time with the ones I really love and value, my life feels much more rich and complete. Let’s all try setting more reasonable goals for ourselves and stop over-committing our schedules, be a little more real and less “perfect” and my all-time favorite – spend a whole lot more time with Jesus