The excursion is the same whether you go looking for your sorrow or looking for your joy. – Eudora Welty
It seems everywhere you turn, be it your own inner circle of friends and family, coworkers, or other people in your life, stress and drama are present. These negative aspects are so prevalent that you may even feel like they are always at the forefront of your life!
We live in a stressed out nation. A 2017 study conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that 75% of adults had exhibited at least one symptom of stress in the last month. That same study showed that of the symptoms reported, “around one-third of adults reported experiencing feeling nervous or anxious (36%), irritability or anger (35%), and fatigue (34%) due to their stress” (APA, 2017, p. 5).
Stress, unhappiness, and unmet expectations: these seem to be to be unavoidable parts of life. Yet how can we handle them in a positive, healthy way?
Go to our Lord! Hand over whatever it is you’re dealing with and when you find yourself grabbing it back, keep handing it over to Him – even if it is a minute-by-minute battle. I have found that prayer (which I call “having a running conversation with Jesus”) is essential for me. He is the only one Who has all the answers, the understanding, and the heart and arms big enough to care for ALL of us – all at the same time! And here’s even more good news: we can talk to Jesus in the midst of chaos and He hears and calms our hearts.
Meditation is also a positive coping mechanism for stress. In this case, I’m not referring to in the manner that many Eastern religions practice it; I am referring to taking some time to quiet your mind and reflect on the Lord, His promises, and His goodness. It may take some time to “get into the groove,” so to speak, but this quiet time with Jesus is essential for your mind.
Exercise is yet another helpful way to manage stress – and almost any kind of exercise will do! Exercise boosts your endorphins, improves your moods, and allows you to focus on other things other than the things that are stressful (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Additionally, many types of exercise allow you time to spend in prayer and reflection. (For many, they find “meditation in motion.”)
Additionally, don’t be afraid to let go and truly feel your emotions. I myself am guilty of being too stoic at times when it would benefit me to just sit and have a cleansing cry. Don’t be afraid to let go. As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.”
God created us in His image. He linked our hearts in addition to our minds, which were created to help us survive. Yet, God wanted us to do so much more than simply “survive.” He created us to thrive! Yet we cannot do this on our own. Only by depending on Him for everything is it possible for us to experience (and enjoy!) life to the fullest.
God is the ultimate source of peace, contentment, and joy – in spite of the craziness of this world.
So as you journey through each day – the good and bad alike – remember Who your guide is, and let Him fill you with contentment and joy!
American Psychological Association. (2017). Stress in America: The state of our nation. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/images/state-nation_tcm7-225609.pdf
Mayo Clinic. (2018). Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469