CAPTION: "Photo courtesy PDPhoto.org." Sometimes just walking along the beach is the best way to calm the heart and find peace.
Dealing with Stress
We have all felt stressed at some time in our lives. Those days where we feel like pulling our hair out because we just don't know what to do. Some of us are experiencing stress right now and are carrying some heavy loads of tension and stress in our bodies and spirit. The good news is that there are some things we can all do to reduce stress in our lives. I have listed a list of 10 things that we can do to reduce stress in our lives.
1. Don't ever listen to what other people think of you if it is negative. Instead ask yourself "What is this person feeling and needing right now that made them say this?" By doing this you will not hear criticism that can eventually ruin your day and instead look for what is bothering the other person. By doing this you can more easily resolve the problem as well. (1 Corinthians 4:2-4)
2. Don't be led by your feelings. If you are making decisions based on how you feel you will soon be stressed out and confused. Feelings are God's gift to us to discover what we need. They are not to take the place of God or basic principles that can lead us to making good decisions. If you are angry do not allow anger to take you where it wills but instead ask yourself "What do I need right now that made me angry?" By doing this you can then find the solution to help you no longer feel angry and reduce your stress. Live your life by principles that you know work and not by your feelings. Give yourself time to think and make rational decisions based on facts and evidence and moral values. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
3. Listen to your feelings and don't ignore them. When you are feeling an emotion ask yourself what your unmet need is at that time. Feelings are always connected to a need being met or unmet. For instance, if you are happy it may be because you have a strong connection with family. Or if you are sad it may be because you are in need of connection with family. The need in both situations is for connection. (Proverbs 14:30, 27:19)
4. Don't try to control others. You can't do it and it will only lead to more tension and frustration. Focus on what you can control (your response to things). (Proverbs 14:7, 15:1, 23:9)
5. Exercise to reduce stress. Go to the gym or run or do some extracurricular activity. (1 Timothy 4:8)
6. Don't criticize, judge or blame others. When you do this you only make yourself more angry and tense. And others get defensive and don't want anything to do with you. So, it is better to identify what you need and make a request (not a demand). (Matthew 7:1-2)
7. Take a timeout. When you feel tense or angry go for a walk for approximately one hour to calm down or destress. Going to the beach is sometimes a great idea. Then when you are calm try to resolve the problems of life. (Ephesians 4:25-27; Proverbs 4:26, 16:32, 29:11)
8. Practice Prayer. Prayer is powerful and can help to get a lot of things off your chest. When people pray they also calm down. (Philippians 4:6-7; James 5:16)
9. Let go and let God. This is a popular saying and it works. Give your worries and concerns to him and trust that he will help you. Wait for him and be reassured that he is with you to help. Forgiveness is also a part of letting go and letting God. (Matthew 6:25-34, 11:28-30; James 4:6-8)
10. Learn the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on happenings and is temporal. You can be happy because you just got a car but it is temporal and based on situations and things. If your car is destroyed you are no longer happy. Happiness is based on circumstances and is the response you have to things. Joy is different. You can always have joy in your heart. Joy is the understanding that no matter what happens in your life (good or bad) there is a purpose behind it and you can become stronger and better for it. It is an understanding that God is in control and that his providence is at work always. When we believe this no matter what is happening we can always have joy no matter what we are going through. (James 1:2-4; Philippians 4:4)