However, living with ongoing stress causes all kinds of health problems (such as heart disease, digestive problems, depression, autoimmune diseases, etc.).
So what can we do to reduce stress? Here are a few tips:
This specific kind of massage is excellent for de-stressing the body. It's a relaxing massage that also stimulates the body's natural healing processes. My massage therapist recommends having a lymphatic massage at least twice a month, or every week if possible.
Research clearly shows that regular exercise is necessary and beneficial for almost everyone.
(If you have a severe adrenal or thyroid condition, then it's often better not to exercise until the condition improves. For many months I didn't attempt exercise because it would have made my condition worse. Be sure to listen to your body and to your health provider so you know it's safe for you to begin exercising.)
The kind of exercise that is best depends on each individual's condition and specific needs. For many people walking is the best exercise. Others can handle a more strenuous program. It's important to figure out what is best for where you are right now and then start!
(My current exercise program is about 6 minutes of low-impact aerobics 5 days a week. It's not much, but it's what my body can handle right now.)
Consistent exercise reduces stress in the body and boosts health in many other ways as well.
Most people don't breathe well. Taking a few minutes 2-3 times a day to practice deep breathing can help reduce stress in your body.
You can do this standing (take a big breath in while raising your arms over your head, then slowly exhale while you lower your arms). Or you can do it while lying on your back (inhale deeply, filling first your diaphragm then your lungs with air, then exhale slowly).
Also, when you're confronted with a stressful situation, form a habit of stopping to take a deep breath in and then releasing slowly. This will calm the stress reaction and help you think more clearly about how to respond.
Laughing actually shifts the body from a stress response to a relaxed state. (It has many other great benefits, including increasing endorphins, boosting the immune system, and giving your heart a workout).
Dr. Don Colbert recommends 20 seconds of belly laughter 10 times a day. So find some comedy videos, read a joke book, or just laugh for no reason! You'll be glad you did. =)
These four things are great for physically reducing stress in our bodies.
5) Prayer partner
Ask someone you know to be a weekly prayer partner. You can meet with them face to face or over the phone. Sharing your needs and requests with another person and then praying together can do wonders to reduce stress.
God says to be anxious for nothing, but in all things with prayer, petition, and thanksgiving to present our requests to Him. And He promises that His supernatural peace will guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:6-7).
Even though we can do this on our own, I've found that having a prayer partner to share my requests and prayers with helps me tremendously.
6) Worship time
If you haven't already, start a habit of spending at least 10 minutes a day simply worshiping God.
It's great to sing along to praise music throughout the day. But it's even more vital to set aside a specific time with no agenda, no multi-tasking, and no distractions. Then you can focus on God - how great He is, how much He loves you, His faithfulness, etc.
So get comfy on the couch, stand in your backyard, or hide in your closet if necessary, and spend some time singing praise to God and worshiping Him.
If you try this for a week, I think you'll be amazed at how much it brings down your stress level. As you focus intentionally on God, the cares and stress of this life gradually fade to their proper perspective.
These two habits have wonderful potential to lower stress and enhance your spiritual/emotional health.
- Your schedule
Most people are way too busy, resulting in feeling stressed out all the time. Pray over your schedule and see what activities or commitments you can cancel. Let God guide you in His plan for investing your time, then happily let go of the rest. =)
- Your environment
We all have more stuff than we need. Take some time to find things you can give away, sell or throw away (or make a habit of reducing excess clutter little by little). Worrying about "stuff" causes unnecessary stress. Research shows that often people with fewer possessions are happier than those with much. So keep your "stuff" simple.
- Your media intake
Today we're bombarded with media 24/7. With smart phones we're never "unplugged" from news, email, Facebook, blogs, etc. But this deluge of media actually adds stress. Take a realistic look at how much media you consume daily. Then find ways to cut back and allow yourself time off to breathe and enjoy some of life's simple pleasures. =)
It takes effort to simplify and keep life simple, but the rewards of a more focused, less-stressed life and truly worth it!
I hope these tips are helpful. What ideas would you like to add for dealing with stress?