Taking the Stress out of Stress
- Monday, June 30, 2008
DALLAS (BP)--You don't need to take a "stress test" to see if you have it. We all have it. Stress is a normal part of life. It's what motivates us to take action.
How you manage stress, however, can set you apart from others. We all experience stress differently. What causes stress for me may not bother you at all.
For many, a 72-mile round trip to Dallas every day would be a serious stress trigger. You know that somewhere along that 72-mile stretch, you'll inevitably encounter a fender-bender, a stalled car, road construction and of course drivers who shouldn't have a license at all. I call this scenario commuting to work, and I've been doing it for more than 20 years. Instead of letting myself feel stress, I use the time to listen to music, catch up on the news and chat with my carpooler.
Many people would call being in the room for one hour with 38 children ages 3-12 torture. But for more than 25 years I've called it children's choir -– and I love it. That's probably because I'm still a kid myself. Children can be stress-triggers but they can also be the best stress-relievers. Someone once said laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you, and I am fully medicated after a children's musical.
Possible signs of stress include:
1. Short-term forgetfulness of routine things (like leaving church and realizing you are missing one of your children).
2. Loss or increase of appetite (and you are not pregnant).
3. Desire to sleep all the time (and you are not a teenager) or the inability to sleep.
4. Uncontrollable crying or anger.
So, what can you do?
Since we can't eliminate stress, we must learn to manage it. When I worked at a local hospital, it was not uncommon for women to be admitted to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain. In reality, they convinced their doctors they were ill just so they wouldn't have to cook for the holidays. There are healthier ways to handle stress:
1. Stay in God's Word.
2. Talk to a friend or your doctor.
3. Exercise. It helps release natural chemicals that lift your spirits.
4. Journal your thoughts.
5. Read a faith-based book on dealing with stress.
6. Ask someone to pray for you. Sometimes we are so far down that we can't even pray for ourselves.
7. Help others. Often the best way to relieve our own stress is to be a blessing to someone else.
(c) 2008 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Tamara Quintana is the director of the employee wellness program for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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