Did you resolve to manage stress better this year? I think I resolve that every morning! I’m glad to introduce you to my friend and life coach, Beth Anderson. Beth has a passion for helping women make smart choices and move forward from where they are to where God has called them to be. Welcome, Beth!
I'm always hesitant to make New Year's resolutions. Seriously, how long do most resolutions last? Two weeks? Two months? The intentions are good and January 1 is also a great time to reboot but resolutions themselves, can cause stress.
Failing to succeed causes stress.
Trying to be perfectly victorious in accomplishing my goals sets me up for stress. How can I do everything I've been doing all along and find time and energy to add more goals? It's overwhelming! I saw a graphic on Facebook the other day that made me laugh but the struggle is real! It said,
'I stress about stress before there's even stress to stress about. Then I stress about stressing over stress that doesn't need to be stressed about. It's stressful.'
Humorous, yes, but something's gotta give!
My desktop Oxford dictionary defines stress as pressure; mental or emotional strain. Researchers estimate that at least 75 percent of all primary care medical visits are for complaints and conditions that are stress-related. Millions of people take medication for stress-related symptoms. Stress affects not only our mental health but also our physical health.
As a Christian woman, I have access to some answers. There are many wonderful scriptures in the Bible that can help us deal with stress. Check the Resources section below for a printable list of stress-busting scriptures.
Reducing stress takes intentionality. It takes a PLAN. If I fail to have a plan, I am planning to fail. It really is as simple as that. I'm trying to take time twice a week to plan and organize myself. It's only when I have a plan, that I can move forward, and keep on track toward my goals.
There are lots of articles on stress relief and ideas for lessening stress. But let's keep it fairly simple today. We've all got enough to remember!
Let's have a P.L.A.N.
P Pause and Pray –– It really helps! Sometimes I just need to stop and focus back on God, praying for wisdom, energy, strength, focus, and an unanxious mind.
L Lean In –– Rely on your relationship with God and get into His Word! Just spending some time with Jesus calms my mind and restores my soul.
A Acknowledge your stress. We all have stress. It's real. It's life! However, we don't need to wallow in it! Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. When I think about everything that's stressing me and overwhelming me, it's a downward spiral and it's hard to pull myself out of that pit. But, when I think about my blessings and the things that I have to look forward to and that make me happy, I can turn my focus and attitude around. Be intentional about making the choice to look for the positives and the blessings.
N Nurture yourself by making Smart Choices. Do what nurtures your mind, body, and soul. I need to be more intentional about this one. When I choose to eat healthfully and exercise, I am better able to handle daily stresses. Some other things that work for me are listening to music (right now I'm loving Jordan Smith from The Voice!), sharing a cup of coffee and conversation with a friend, watching HGTV (I love Fixer Upper!), and even spending a designated amount of time on Pinterest, looking at beautiful things. I also love to read and study. I love reading different versions of the Bible, and checking out extra commentaries and resources.
Another habit that nurtures my soul and reduces stress is observing Sabbath. God knew exactly what He was doing when He set this world in motion and created a day for recuperation and relationship. Sabbath is a time to focus on my relationship with God, family, and others. When I am conscious of setting aside that time as sacred, I give my mind and body a chance to renew and be ready for the next week and responsibilities. It enables me to practice the presence and peace of God more easily during the rest of the week.
Once again, planning is key in observing and celebrating Sabbath. What can I do ahead of time to prepare for Sabbath? Cleaning and tidying up the house helps me prepare mentally. Sometimes we even plan for a special meal or activity. Next is thinking about what I can do to stop, relax, and get to know God. What can I do to sense God's presence and be assured of His love for me? And, what can I do to draw close to God, forgive others, and grow love in my home and community?
It's difficult to slow down the frenetic pace of life. We are taught to work hard and be productive. But maybe we have an overinflated and false need to be productive. If Sabbath becomes a stress and another thing to check off our list, then we doing it all wrong! In Mark 2: 27, Jesus tells the Pharisees, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.' The Sabbath is for our benefit, to have a respite from our cares and worries, to reconnect.
I know that 'Stressed' spelled backwards is 'Dessert' but I don't think that's the best answer! What can you do to plan for diverting stress? What Smart Choices can you make to nurture yourself and what ideas can you share with the rest of us who are always looking for stress relief?
Beth Anderson lives in North Carolina and is the Volunteer Coordinator for Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies and is a Christian Life Coach. She is married to Rick, and is mother to three adult married children, whom she likes as well as loves. She is energized by working with women and girls, building confidence and encouraging them as they move forward, seeking to discover their true calling and understand the dream God has placed in their hearts. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, and on her coaching website at http://www.lifecoachbethanderson.com/