Stress and anxiety will always be with us—always have been, always will be, at least until we get to heaven. So, rather than wishing our troubles would end, we need to take positive action. Methods for coping with stress abound, but let’s focus on three: exercise, creative or productive work, and meditation or prayer.
1. Exercise Diminishes Stress and Anxiety
We all know that exercise is good for us, but until we’re all doing it, we need to keep on pushing ourselves and our loved ones to get started. God has already given us the fountain of youth, and it’s exercise and healthy eating. He also designed our brains to produce chemicals that diminish stress when we exercise. The neuroscientists with the Dana Foundation explain it this way:
“When you exercise, your body releases chemicals such as dopamine (pronounced doh-pa-meen) and endorphins (en-door-fins) in your brain that make you feel happy. Not only is your brain dumping out feel-good chemicals, but exercise also helps your brain get rid of chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious. People who exercise tend to be happier and less stressed than those who don’t exercise. Regular exercise can also help you control your emotions when you do feel angry or upset.”
But how do we get ourselves to do it? There’s the rub. I’ve been fighting that battle for many years. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t, but over the years, these things have worked for me:
- Make a small, simple lunch and walk during your lunch break at work.
- Find a twenty-minute exercise video that you enjoy, and do it regularly, rewarding yourself each time you.
- Join a gym and swim or take yoga classes or any class that sounds fun to you.
- Walk outdoors when the weather is nice.
- Meet a friend for indoor walking at the mall when the weather is bad.
You get the picture. Find an exercise you enjoy and stick with it. Pray and ask God for the discipline to keep it up, and/or enlist a friend to exercise with you. The possibilities are endless. Want to get rid of stress? Get moving!
2. Do Something Creative or Productive
Some people don’t think they are creative, but I think we’re all creative in different ways. Creativity for some people might be arranging a beautiful schedule or organizing a kitchen efficiently. The point is, we all have certain activities we enjoy, and we can feel a sense of accomplishment when we’ve finished. Find those activities you enjoy so much you lose track of time. These activities shift our focus to something other than our troubles. For me, it can be painting, cooking, writing, singing, etc.
3. Pray or Meditate
Prayer and meditation can help us deal with stress. Below are some practical ways to pray and meditate, in case you need ideas:
- Write your thoughts and prayers in a journal daily or weekly.
- Share prayer concerns and pray on a phone call with a friend once a week.
- Pray as you walk, or just relax your mind and be thankful for the beauty of nature as you walk.
- Use a meditation app on your phone. John Eldredge has a good one I used in 2020 when stress was extra high.
Finally, Philippians 4:6-7 tells us how to handle anxiety:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (NIV).
Any tips for dealing with stress and anxiety? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
I’m an artist who loves to write. If you’d like to get to know me better, please follow me on social media.
My Blog: susanebrooks.com
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