Did you know the average teen today has as much daily stress in their life as the average teenage mental hospital patient in the 1950's? Daily stress in a world where sin increases all the more each day is a reality. But, it is also a reality of Jesus Christ's truth when He said, "Fear not, for I have overcome the world!"
April is National Stress Awareness Month. Did you know you can be suffering the effects of stress without even noticing it? The list of daily to-do's sometimes overshadows our stress and anxiety, as well as that of our children's. To stay stress free we must stop, take stock of our current condition, and form an intentional plan for stress-free living.
At The Mercy Ministries we work hard to help our patients determine those things in their lives they can change to make life less stressful, as well as how to cope with circumstances beyond their control. Sometimes that's as complicated as finding the best method to help them give up smoking or create a financial budget. Sometimes it is as simple as showing them the importance of setting aside time each day to read their Bible and pray.
Not dealing with daily stress has negative consequences. We cannot be like an Ostrich with our heads buried in the sand. We need to look up and face stress head-on. Part of overcoming the stress of the world is learning how to deal with it in a healthy, balanced way.
Personally, when I'm stressed, I begin to be anti-social, eat mindlessly, have pain in my neck and shoulders, have headaches and feel numb emotionally. If I'm not careful to make time for myself to do one creative thing each week, such as cook a good meal, paint, create a Pinterest project, or write, I get very irritable. I also need to get out of my office desk chair and get to a body of water, such as the lake, the beach or even my parent's poolside each weekend. Water and art are my happy places. I haven't always had a lot of money to put towards doing things I enjoy, but my parents do have a pool I can enjoy for free!
In addition to that, if I'm not spending time in God's Word, the Bible, my body and emotions begin to suffer the effects of stress. This must come first in my life. Daily conversations with God are vital to my keeping a thankful perspective and not letting life's circumstances overwhelm me.
I used to feel guilty for taking care of myself when my children were younger. I felt guilty just taking a shower when my babies were little! However, taking time to nurture your body and soul is not selfish. If you take good care of yourself, you'll be more filled with joy and energy to take care of others. Believe me, my man and my four children are happier when I'm not depleted, exhausted and cranky!
One of the best things we do in our house to get everyone in a good mood in the morning is blast upbeat, motivational music while everyone is getting ready for school. You'd be surprised what a difference that one small thing makes!
What are the health benefits of living stress free?
Stress has been known to cause a myriad of health issues, such as ...
-- Heart Disease
-- Eating Disorders
-- Self-harming or self-destructive behaviors
-- Back and neck pain
-- Chronic headaches
-- Weakened immune system
-- and more!
We all need to take a good look at how stressed we are and seek solutions to change those things in our life we have the power to change so we can be our healthiest, best selves! Regarding those things we cannot change, we have to remember two simple truths:
1. Jesus' love for us is bigger than any circumstance stacked against us. He's always working things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). In other words, you are not alone in the fight! Whew! I don't know about you, but that makes me breathe easier!
2. People are like eggs. The same hot water that boils an egg to make it hard softens a potato. Life is all about what we're made of, and not about the "hot water" of what we go through. Our individual attitudes determine the difference between an ordeal and an adventure!
To find out how stressed you are, take this online, individualized stress test here. The website also offers solutions to stress, and how you can destress in just 7 days!