Earlier this week we named another wellness drainer in our series: stress. We discussed its causes and how it affects our spirit, mind, and body. I’m glad to be able to share some stress relievers and eliminators with you today.
We may not be able to control or change the circumstances that cause stress, but we can find ways to relieve or even eliminate those stressed out moments.
- My number one stress reliever is prayer. Talking to my heavenly father always calms my spirit. It takes my focus off of the problem and puts it onto the Prince of Peace. Not only can I verbalize my problem, but I can also call on God to help me battle the culprit that is making me so stressed out. Prayer journals are a huge help to me. Writing prayers out on paper helps me pray with intention and purpose. It doesn’t have to be an eloquent prayer or even a long prayer. In fact, just speaking the name of Jesus ushers in His spirit of protection, love, and peace amidst the chaos.
- Reading God’s Word enables me to find comfort and solace in the truth of His promises and the stories of how He delivered His people from so many situations, especially from a Bible with additional resources for women. Devotions that focus on specific issues I’m facing are also very beneficial, like this Find Rest devotional. His Word is true and it never changes despite the way our circumstances seem to toss us.
- Worship music is another stress eliminator for me. Music has always spoken to my heart. The lyrics encourage and inspire me, and the lullaby of the music calms my breathing, relaxes the knots in my muscles, and it takes my mind off of my troubles.
- Deep breathing is another stress reliever that should work for everyone. Our bodies are naturally healed and calmed by the oxygen we take in and by the way in which we breathe it. It slows our heart rate and relaxes our physical bodies as well as our spirits. You can find deep breathing apps and videos that are recorded specifically for deep breathing exercises. You do need to be sure to research them as some can have ulterior motives or subliminal messages embedded in them. You can even create your own routine. I have a list of about 5-6 slow and relaxing worship songs on a play list that I listen to while I close my eyes and take deep breaths.
- Exercise is also a good stress reliever. You can go for a brisk walk which helps you clear your mind and enjoy God’s beautiful creation to encourage you. I don’t advocate a lot of high impact exercise but every once in a while a jog or kickboxing can help you take our frustrations out on the pavement or a punching bag. Exercise also balances and regulates hormones. When our hormones are imbalanced it can cause you to react to stress more intensely or negatively.
- You may not believe this but the food we eat affects how our bodies and minds react to stress. When we don’t take care of our bodies, we make them vulnerable to mental and physical stress, diseases, and fatigue. Some foods like sugar and dyes can cause a person to be more aggressive or high strung than their body should be. That certainly is the case for me. When I eat chemicals, my heart rate beats faster. My muscles are more achy and tense because they are inflamed. My mind is less focused. My mood is poor and even irritable because my body and mind don’t have the proper nutrition to fuel them. Then my spirit becomes depressed and anxious. There are times when my stomach feels like it has butterflies in it, but I know I am not necessarily suffering from anxiety. Once I eliminated some poor food choices, that anxiety went away. Eating a healthy, balanced menu will help you react to stress better and will even eliminate stress for you.
- This may sound old fashioned, but a good night’s sleep does wonders for stress. I know it’s difficult to sleep when you’re stressed out, but it’s one of the best things you can do. Start with a good nighttime routine. Wean yourself from electronics several hours before bed time. Soak in a hot, detox bath of Epsom salt. Before bed time, drink some magnesium powder to relieve stress and detoxify, or caffeine free herbal tea. Put some lavender essential oil with carrier oil on the bottoms of your feet, in a diffuser, or even on your pillow at night. Breathe them in with deep breaths. Allow your body to relax and you’ll slumber in no time. Do the best you can not to pick up your phone if you awaken in the middle of the night. Try to count blessings or just breathe deeply until you fall back asleep. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep so your body and mind can have the proper rest they need to function during the day. Your spirit will also be lifted because you won’t have the strain of a tired body and/or a frustrated and unfocused mind.
- Don’t trade stress for something addictive. I’ve traded stress for food many times. Some people rely on drugs, alcohol, and other addictive habits to relieve stress. They won’t work. You’ll just add to your stress because having an addictive habit is stressful in and of itself. Trying to kick the habit will add even more stress. There is no magic potion. You have to live intentionally and make good choices to help yourself with stress.
- Take up a healthy hobby like reading, sports, crafting, instruments, etc. These positive activities will help you take your mind off your troubles, and they’ll also encourage you with a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment. Playing the piano relaxes me, but reading a good book, especially one that is geared toward relieving stress is very beneficial because it is not only relaxing but also the information I absorb from it is helpful and empowering as well.
- Volunteer to help someone. Now I don’t mean giving in to your “yes syndrome”. I simply mean you could either make room in your schedule or utilize the freedom you already have to help someone in need. Doing something for someone else many times blesses you more than the one you served. It also puts things into perspective. Many times we find our problems and stresses are minuscule compared to the people around us. There is always someone who is enduring a hardship worse than our own. You may even find they are willing to encourage and help you in return.
Relieving stress is easier said than done, but it can be done. We just have to live intentionally and make the choice to take charge of the stress and its cause or at least the factors that cause us to react in a stressful way.
I’ll be in prayer this week that you will find your days becoming more stress-free and that your spirit~mind~body will find balance and relief as you and God work to eliminate or relieve stress in your life.