We all deal with stress at some point; nobody is immune to it because life and stress go hand in hand. But feeling stressed for a long time can take a toll on our whole self and it affects us physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually, that is why it is important that we learn how to deal with stress the healthy way.
What is stress?
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. When people get stressed by the things going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood which give them more energy and strength.
Stress in small doses can be a good thing for you because it makes you more alert and gives you a burst of energy to do things. But stress can also be a bad thing if it is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength. When this happens you may feel agitated and aggressive towards others which can negatively affect relationships and ruin reputations.
What are the common causes of stress?
Many different things can cause stress – from physical to emotional. People feel stressed when they feel like they don’t have the tools to manage all the demands in their lives. Below are some of the common causes of stress.
1) Internal stress – this is when people make themselves stressed. We often worry about things we cannot control or put ourselves in stressful situations. Ever found yourself in situations where you are worrying about things you can do nothing about or worrying for no reason at all?
The Bible says no one can add a single hour to his life by worrying (Matthew 6:27) so there’s really no point in worrying about things that are out of our control. Let us not be anxious or worried about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, let us present our requests to God (Philippians 4:6).
2) Environmental stress – this is in response to the things around you that can cause stress such as pressure from work or family, crowding and noise. It’s important that you properly identify these stresses so you can learn to avoid or deal with them.
3) Overwork and fatigue – this is the kind of stress that can build up over a long period of time which can take a hard toll on your body and overall health. This is commonly caused by working too much or working long hours.
It can also be caused by not knowing how to properly manage your time and not taking some time out to rest and relax. Stress caused by overworking and fatigue can be one of the hardest kinds of stress to avoid because many people feel that this is out of their control.
Dealing with stress the healthy way
Stress if not properly managed can affect both your mind and body. People who are under large amounts of stress can become tired, sick and unable to think clearly. Some may even go to the extremes of suffering mental breakdowns which can greatly affect their health. So how should we manage stress the healthy way?
1) Get enough rest and sleep.
A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Sleep requirements may vary slightly from person to person but generally, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is recommended for adults to function at their best. If you’re having a hard time getting a goodnight sleep, avoid taking in caffeine during the evening to give your brain enough time to calm down.
Try to avoid mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed to calm your brain down. You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body will get used to a predictable bedtime routine. Having enough rest and sleep will help you to think better and ready to face any problems that may come up.
2) Spend some time to do the things you enjoy doing.
We all have lots of things we need to do but we should not also neglect to do the things that we really want to do. It could be going to the movies, listening to music or reading a good book. No matter how busy your day or week goes, always make a good excuse to do the things you really enjoy doing. Reward yourself once in a while by taking a time out from your busy work schedule.
3) Get organized and learn to manage your time.
You can avoid stress by thinking ahead of time how you’re going to spend your day. You may want to write a to-do list. Figure out what are the most important things you need to do and do them first. Know what are the things you need to do personally and what can be delegated to others.
You may also want to create some spare times in order to deal with some unexpected and emergency tasks. Remember that there are only so many hours in a day so you must learn how to spend your time wisely and know how and when to set limit for yourself and others.
4) Talk and connect with others.
Talking to family, friends or colleagues about how you feel can be helpful. When you are under a lot of stress, your judgment is often clouded which prevents you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with someone might help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into a new perspective.
5) Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol and eat a healthy balanced meal.
Caffeine and alcohol are stimulants that can increase your stress level. So instead of caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, drink water, herbal teas or natural juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated as this will enable your body to cope better with stress. You should also aim to cut down on your intake of refined sugars and eat a healthy and well-balanced nutritious diet. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Learning to deal with stress in everyday life is important because stress when not properly managed can cause serious health problems. There are so many ways to manage stress but the problem is that some people choose negative coping methods like alcohol, drugs or food.
The best way to deal with your stress is applying healthy coping strategies like such as those mentioned above. You can start practicing these tips right away or you may want to try one or two and see which ones will wok out for you. Stay healthy by dealing with stress positively because if you’re not happy then you won’t be healthy.
Above all, we must actively trust in the sovereign God repeatedly during our times of stress. It’s only when we trust God in the midst of severe anxiety that we prove His faithfulness in our own experience. Remember that you are not going through these things alone. God will never give you more than you can handle and you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Phil. 4:13).
How do you deal with everyday stress? What coping methods have worked well for you? Please feel free to share by leaving your comments below.