Everyone, even those of us at Mount Hermon, get stressed. Just the work and home life obligations and put a strain on your physical and mental well-being. We serve a God of peace who wants his people to rest in His presence, loving Him and loving others from a deep well of refreshment yet often we feel anxious and out of control. Here are some helpful and practical ways you can lean into the refreshment and rest the Christ offers:
1. Identify unhealthy coping mechanisms
How do you currently deal with stress? Are these behaviors unproductive or even unhealthy? Identify if you use any of these mechanisms that may actually promote more stress later:
- · Smoking
- · Drinking too much alcohol
- · Overeating
- · Mindless TV watching
- · Withdrawing from your family
- · Over-sleeping
If any of these are true for you it’s a warning sign that you’re under stress and may need assistance in setting new habits.
2. Get some exercise
Research has shown over and over that exercise reduces stress and can help you through particularly stressful life events. Almost any kind of physical activity is helpful in boosting your mood and energy. 20 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week can have profound impacts. Exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating it out at the gym. You can try:
- · Walking somewhere instead of driving
- · Take the stairs at work
- · Dancing with your kids
- · Trying a new hobby
3. Build and maintain real relationships
Even though when we’re under stress the temptation is to withdraw there’s lots of evidence showing the power of support networks in helping us regulate our emotions. Keep in regular contact with friends and loved ones – ideally face to face. Even one friend that you can be real with can alleviate the isolation we feel when stressed. Try:
- · Calling a family member to catch up
- · Schedule a weekly walk with a friend
- · Ask a co-worker out to lunch
How we respond to negative thoughts can have a huge impact on our stress. There are a few ways you can pray through your stress. First, tell God what your negative thoughts are and ask Him what opportunities they might present. Be patient and wait on God to give you feedback.
Second, ask God for perspective. Ask him if this is a situation that you should care about and if so ask him how to respond. He is the God of things big and small.
Third, ask God for humility and acceptance. So much of our stress comes from seeking perfectionism. Know that God loves us as we are, not as we wish we were.
5. Develop healthy coping strategies
Lastly, it can be helpful to know you have resources to help you fight stress when it arises. There are a multitude of things you could put in your “toolbox” but here are some ideas:
- · A walk in God’s creation
- · Time in silent prayer
- · Watch a favorite movie
- · Enjoy a coffee with a friend
- · Ride your bike
- · Book a massage
God want’s us to live a life fully dependent upon Him, not stressed about today or tomorrow. Let us hold to his promise for us in Matthew 6 which says:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Vice President of Strategy