Recently I heard a doctor say that one of the best ways to stay healthy during flu season is to reduce unnecessary stress . . . which led me to ask myself, what exactly is “unnecessary” stress? All of the stresses in my life seem (at least, to me) very necessary; after all, that’s why I stress about them. However, I do think we often make choices that create more stress in our lives. How much do you value taking care of yourself physically? How do you handle your weaknesses and mistakes? How do you deal with your fears about your future?
The daily choices we make in each of these areas will inevitably contribute to the level of stress and anxiety we feel. Read below for some tips to deal with stress and anxiety differently:
1. Make time to take care of yourself
In the midst of all the very important and seemingly urgent things I need to do in the course of a day, it’s easy for exercise and wellness to become my last priority. Unfortunately, when we avoid exercise we will carry around unnecessary stress. Exercise is a well-known stress-reliever from a medical perspective, and it’s also important spiritually:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
God calls us to love him with not only our heart and soul but also our mind and strength. If we don’t take care of my mental and physical health, we will not be able to love God, be close to him, and trust him. Some basic ways we can take care of ourselves are exercising regularly, eating well, and getting enough sleep.
What is one area you can work on taking care of yourself physically this week? Tell your spouse or a friend so they can help you stick to your decision when life gets busy.
2. Embrace your weaknesses
I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NCV)
Anxiety and stress often come when we are pretending to be someone we are not. Everyone has weaknesses; maybe you get angry too easily or fearful or struggle to be vulnerable and transparent. In this scripture God promises that that he will help us in our weaknesses; we don’t have to change them on our own power.
My job requires me to be in a lot of social situations and I am naturally extremely introverted. I feel very stressed when I handle that weakness by trying as hard as I can on my own strength to be outgoing instead of just asking God for help.
What weaknesses in your life are difficult for you to talk about? How do you think God could help you change those weaknesses if you asked him?
3. Trust God with your future
You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.
I think one of the biggest stressors we face as women is trying to anticipate and control the future. No matter our stage in life, we constantly worry about what will come next: What will I do after high school? Will I get accepted to a good college? Will I ever get married? What if I can’t have kids? Are we going to run out of money? Will my kids be taken care of and will they be successful in life?
But one of the simplest truths in life is that we can’t control any of these things; college acceptances are out of your hands even if you have the best GPA at your school, and time and chance happen to each of us and our families (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
Building a relationship with God means trusting that there is a God who is bigger than you and he will work through everything for your good. Even if bad things happen, he will work something good out of it:
We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan.
When we believe this promise we can let go of control over our own lives and the lives of our kids, and ultimately relieve some unnecessary stress and pressure.
What are some of the biggest areas of your future or your kids’ future that you are worried about right now? Take time to pray about these areas today and be honest with God about how you feel. Work to make conscious decisions to believe scriptures instead of your own fears about your future.