Monday, April 28, 2014

Seven Ways to Reduce Stress

We live in an anxious age where stress is epidemic.  It is impossible to live a stress free life, but there is a healthy way to navigate.  Allow me to suggest seven healthy ways to reduce stress and anxiety in your life.

1.  Embrace the demands.

I have discovered that it takes much more emotional energy to dread and avoid difficult situations than it does to just dive in and accept them.  At least half of the emotional drain comes from worrying ahead of time.

2.  Ask, "Why am I doing this?"

Busy activity tends to accumulate, especially for people who have trouble saying "no."  Review your commitments regularly, looking for unnecessary burdens.  Is this a part of your mission in life?  Does your schedule reflect your priorities and purpose?   What activities bring delight?  Which ones drain you?  It is ok to drop unmeaningful duties that drain you.

3.  Build breathing space into your schedule.

Busy people with demanding calanders need breathing space for the soul.  You have to fight for this resting space before, after or between commitments.  If your life is jammed with far too many obligations and you feel suffocated, then you need to take a hard look and pare back.  You will accomplish more by building in time to catch your breath.

4.  Pause to pray.

God grants peace, wisdom and guidance to those who seek him in prayer.  A day launched with prayer is centered in peace.  You can also pray on the go, asking for strength and a positive perspective throughout the day.

5.  Honor a sabbath.

Every week, carve out time to unplug from work and responsibilities.  We are hardwired for this through creation (Genesis 1.)  Make your sabbath a sacred space to reconnect with God and those you love.  Fill it with replenishing activities that bring joy to your soul.  Rest in it.  

6.  Plan ahead.

A primary reason why we get swamped is because we fail to plan ahead and budget our energy.   Look ahead over the coming four to six weeks.  What needs to be done?  Are there some little things you can do this week, to reduce pressure next week?  Budget your energy by spreading it out over weeks rather than jamming everything into today and tomorrow.

7.  Simplify.

More stuff brings greater complexity.  One way to reduce stress is by decluttering, getting rid of things

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