While it is true that Christian women should be able to beat the stresses of everyday life by being a child of God, we sometimes are not able to do that successfully. We allow our busy schedules to pull us down and steal our joy. It seems inevitable that the busy schedules are not going to change at this point in life. So, what do we do to keep ourselves focused on the important things and help us cope with everyday challenges? Following are a list of ten things that may help.
#1. Meditate on God’s Word every day. I know you are going to say, “I don’t have time.” Yes, you do. I did not say to sit down and read God’s Word every day, although that would be the ideal situation. I said meditate on God’s Word. Anyone can do this. If you do not have favorite verses memorized, write or type them on index cards and place them over the sink, over the shower, or next to your treadmill. Clear your mind and think about your verse. What does the verse mean to you? How can you apply it to your life? Pray. Be blatantly honest with yourself and God. He knows anyway. The more honest you can be, the sooner changes will come. Getting your heart right with God is the truest of all stress busters. This must be done before any of the following stress busters can be effective. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
#2. Enjoy the little things. The people who are the most stressed out are the ones who keep themselves so busy that they do not have time for the little things. They are missing out on the greatest blessings. Slow down, look around you, watch the snowfall, smell the flowers, listen to music, enjoy your favorite food, pet the puppy, play with a child, hug your husband. Use all your senses. Be aware of each one. We can find much pleasure in taking time to enjoy the little things.
#3. Get your mind off yourself. One of the best stress busters is to get your mind off yourself and put it on someone else. Happy people have something in common: they enjoy making others happy. Look around. Who needs your attention? Maybe it is someone right under your nose like your husband or your children. It could be a friend or a neighbor. It doesn’t mean you must spend hours doing this to get results. It could be something as simple as a compliment, stopping to talk to the neighbor in the yard, or a smile for the handicapped teenager mopping the floor in the restroom at WalMart. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4).
#4. Develop a positive attitude. It has been proven that when we are negative and complaining about something that our emotional wellbeing is damaged as well as our physical wellbeing. It actually pulls the strength right out of us. Not only does it harm us, but also all those around us. “Do everything without complaining or arguing…” (Philippians 2:14).
#5. Get together with friends. One of the keys to happiness is having friends with whom to share the happiness. When I’m feeling a bit blue or stressed out from everyday challenges, a lunch break with friends can turn it around. Things do not feel nearly as serious if we can talk about it. We draw energy from each other to get through the days. Spending time with friends definitely can be a great stress buster. Paul has this to say about his fellow Christians in Rome: “I long to see you that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Romans 1:11).
#6. Move it. Exercise is one of the best stress busters. Doctors and health practitioners are constantly telling us that we need to get out of our chairs and move our bodies. Exercise isn’t just good for our physical health. It also makes the body release chemicals called endorphins, which have a “feel good all over” effect. I find it much easier to be consistent when I realize that exercise is not just to make me look good, but actually makes me healthier also.
#7. Laughter. Norman Cousins, author of “The Anatomy of an Illness,” was dying from a disease called ankylotic spondylitis. He discovered that laughter made him feel better. He says he checked out funny videos and literally laughed himself well. Scientists have found a link between pleasure and health. Good clean jokes and fun are some of the very best stress busters.
#8. Learn something new. Learning something new can put a new outlook on life and is especially beneficial in eliminating stress. It could be taking a new class at church or at college. It could be learning to do a craft that results in a new hobby or business such as cake decorating, flower arranging, or painting. It could be something as simple as reading a good book. Many times we need an outlet for our stress and learning something new proves to bring satisfaction.
#9. Plan something exciting. Remember the excitement of Christmas Eve when you were a child? Your adrenaline was flowing. Your anticipation was high. This was definitely a peak event of our year. Or remember a favorite vacation. The planning anticipation was almost as much fun as the actual vacation. We need these peak experiences to help us through the stresses of everyday life. But it does not have to be something as big as a vacation to be effective. Small events work also, such as a night out with your husband, a day at the mall with your best friend, a birthday party, or a night playing board games with friends.
#10. Cherish your memories. Take pictures of the favorite and exciting people, places, and things that happen in your life. Then you can enjoy them over and over. I keep a picture album of each year. It starts with New Year’s Day, goes through birthdays, parties, holidays, vacations, and special times and ends with New Year’s Eve. I can enjoy all the special memories of a year all over again at any time. Paul, speaking to the Philippian church, makes this statement: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3).
Learn to control the stresses in your life by meditating on God’s Word every day, enjoying the little things, getting your mind off yourself, developing a positive attitude, getting together with friends, getting the proper exercise, laughing, learning something new, planning something exciting, and cherishing your memories.
originally published in the Apil 2004 issue of the Rocky Mountain Christian News. Used with permission of the author.
By Pam Stewart
Pam and her husband, Bill, serve with the Bear Valley Bible Institue of Denver. Pam is an instructor in the Women’s Program. Bill is the director of development as well as an intructor. The couple can often be found at lectureships and at meetings sharing about BVBID. Pam is the author of Evangelistic Women, a book designed to help women discover in what ministry they can best serve the kingdom (for information on how to order, send a message to email@example.com).