You have felt it building for awhile. Mild anxiety perhaps, tension in the shoulders and upper back. And perhaps you catch yourself staring off with shallow breath as wave after wave of tumultuous thoughts wash over your mind. It may have even gotten to the point that some things you love are now aggravating. It never seems to be the right time to talk to family, or even close friends and when the phone rings, you answer it only to make excuses as to why you cant talk. At the end of it, you are alone, and stressed… and alone.
It happens every year for many. We try to meet the growing expectations placed on us, or should I say, that we place on ourselves during the holidays. Christmas giving starts to feel like its a past due bill that must be paid. We just want to get through it financially unscathed. Then the New Years resolutions that we make, always hopeful, never really aligning our true nature with our dreams. And before you know it, the expectation of Valentines Day comes, more stress, more spending, and then the day passes.
There are many things that stress people out. Stress causes illness, damages relationships, brings on depression, affects appetite, and is inevitable. Where there is ambition, there is stress. Where there is desiring more than we have , there is stress. Where there is solitude, there is stress and yes, where there are other people, there is stress.
These are eleven principles to help you to manage stress:
- Trust God. – For a very long time I had lived a wild and selfish life. There had to be a certain amount of stress and disunity for me to feel alive. Some of this time I went to church but never really committed my life to God. It is quite sad to think of all the time I wasted living this way. Thankfully I have had a transforming experience that has changed my life. I am thankful to Jesus and trust in Him always. I encourage you to trust Him also.
- Know Thyself. – Taking time to consider the things you like and do not like can save a lot of stress. I have heard of folks fighting hard for something that once they have it, can’t handle it. Take the time to prayerfully know yourself.
- Spend time daily studying Gods Word. – Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 94:19, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
- Get enough Rest. – “Rest is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for all ages. It rejuvenates your body and mind, regulates your mood, and is linked to learning and memory function. On the other hand, not getting enough rest can negatively affect your mood, immune system, memory, and stress level.” View Page.
- Communicate truth lovingly. – Part of being in a healthy relationship is having good communication. Knowing yourself enables you to communicate truth better. Whatever the relationship, married couples, parent with children, friends, and even neighbors and strangers, developing good and truthful communication is essential. Whatever the truth you must tell, remember to tell it lovingly.
- Be a peacemaker. – Nothing increases stress like sowing discord. I had a friend that loved picking fights. He said it made him feel better. Except after every fight, he went through months of looking over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being followed. Whether we sow discord through gossip, or violence, it can be a large source of stress. Newtons Third Law, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” It is often the opposite reaction that makes for a stressful day.
- Help your neighbor. – We never really know when, or if we would ever be in need. Strengthening our relationships with those around us not only feels good to do, but also builds good will equity.
- Avoid stressful media (Songs, shows and movies). A neighbor of mine when I lived just north of Toronto and I did not get along. This was several years ago, but I would crank up my car stereo when I was heading home to violent heavy metal music. I have no real idea if it had an impact on him, but by the time I shut the car off, I felt like going into battle. Often, to gain peace, we do the opposite of what we should do. If you take a look at the number of violent acts we witness when we watch some of these television shows or movies, it is shocking. What’s more, the violence is clever, making your mind dwell on them and process them more. This can definitely crank up your stress.
- Strengthen your family relationships. – We never really know when, or if we would ever be in need. It is also clear that some family members are deliberate in their resistance to family harmony. However, strengthening your own relationship with each person in your family will broaden your own foundation and be an example to the rest of the family. Being alone is great and everyone needs alone time. But being alone when you don’t want to be alone is stressful and can be depressing. Be there for family and there is a good chance they will be there for you.
- Date your partner (Single people, date yourself). – In some cases, life, and relationships come into periods of hardship. Some personal, some financial, some affecting relationships. We often feel alone in our struggles, but are often surprised to learn through our darkest struggles, our partners also sense our pain and struggle silently with us. Don’t forget the first works concerning your partner, the dates you had and the excitement of getting to know each other. Continuing to date after marriage, and especially during hardship (Dating doesn’t mean spending money) helps to keep balance and lowers your stress. – For those single, date yourself, not hoping to meet anyone else. Take a book to a restaurant, or coffee shop. Enjoy the time alone and away from the regular scenery.
- Avoid loud and aggressive persons. – We all have them; people that speak too loud and are always offended by someone else and seem unreasonable need to dwell on the negative. They are eager and enthusiastic to share there aggression and offense with you. Usually when sharing their stories with you, you are expected to agree or support their position. Reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago about garbage. It goes like this: You wouldn’t allow your neighbor to dump their weekly garbage on your lawn, over and over again. After the first time, or for the patient, maybe the second or third time, you would do something to stop them from dumping their trash on your lawn. But once they stop, it is done, your lawn can be restored to the pre-garbage-dumping look and smell. But when you allow your friends to dump their garbage repeatedly on you, it is not that easy to get it forgotten.