Renew – Dealing with Stress

April 6, 2015

Hey ladies, I hope y’all had a great Easter! Will and I spent the weekend visiting with our families.  A trip to either house is never boring and this time proved to be no exception.  A couple of highlights:

We found this waiting for us Easter morning at my parents’ house in Picayune.

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Then later I got to visit with this poor cone head at Will’s parents’ house in Laurel.  We’ve been extremely busy lately, so it was really good to get away for a couple of days for activities such as feasting and visiting with a cone-headed dog.  Sometimes we just need a break!

In beginning to talk about the idea of renewing certain areas of our lives, I want share about an issue that I probably end up talking about more than any other in counseling– dealing with stress.  Stress affects all of us, no matter how young or old we are.  Stress does not discriminate based on gender, race, or socio-economic status, that’s for sure.  We all constantly have to deal with regular, “daily” stresses, but at some point each of us will face a season of significant stress.  Maybe that’s where you are right now.

We usually think of stress in a negative way, but that doesn’t have to be the case.   Stress can come from good things–new babies, a new job, a new house–any big change can be somewhat stressful.  But for most of us, I think when we hear the word stress we think of negative situations-money problems, relationship problems, family problems, job issues, sickness, and a million other things.   It’s normal to feel stress about these things, but the problem comes when the stress begins to feel like more than we can handle, or when we’ve felt it for what seems like forever.  Too much stress can affect our appetite, sleeping, and mood.   We may start feeling nervous, tired, or irritable.  Ultimately,  stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and can keep us from living a life of joy.  If you’ve felt this kind of stress, you know exactly what I’m talking about!

So how do we deal with stress? I don’t think there is a magic answer to this question, and I don’t think the same things work the same way for everyone.  I want to share some ideas that have been helpful to a lot of my clients and myself, in hopes that they will give you some ideas for “renewing” the way you deal with stress:

  • Get control of your thoughts.  When we are stressed, our thoughts are usually racing.  We can find ourselves worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, or worrying about the same things on repeat.  Our mind can play all sorts of tricks on us with irrational thinking, and I don’t mean this in a positive way.  I really like this list of negative thought processes, and I often share it with clients.  By learning to recognize these thoughts we can practice “catching” ourselves and changing our thoughts to things that are more healthy for us.  For me, I like to do this by memorizing specific Bible verses that pertain to the things I’m going through.  When I catch myself thinking thoughts that aren’t good and beneficial to me, I try to say my verse to myself instead.  Please feel free to contact me if you’re interested in knowing which verses I have found to be especially encouraging.  I’m not suggesting that we avoid or ignore negative things, but rather that we don’t allow them to live in our minds and grow.  I also don’t want to suggest that this is an easy or a quick fix, but with practice it gets easier.
  • Take things one day at a time.  We can’t change the past and we can’t control the future, so do your best to focus on today instead of worrying about either of those things.  Also, remind yourself that whatever situation you’re going through probably didn’t happen in a day, so it probably won’t get fixed in a day.  Give yourself some time and cut yourself some slack!
  • Remind yourself of the good things.  Make a list of past stressful events or situations that turned out ok, and remind yourself that your current situation will eventually be ok too, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
  • Change your environment.  Whether you go out of town for a few days or just leave your house to go to a local coffee shop for a couple of hours, temporarily leaving a stressful situation can be refreshing.
  • Stop beating yourself up!!! Don’t keep thinking about ways you could have possibly changed your current stressful situation.  Don’t think about things like “If only”, “I wish”, or “I should have”.  It’s important that we recognize mistakes so that we can grow from them, but we don’t have to punish ourselves by reliving them over and over and over again.  Again, cut yourself some slack!

This list is certainly not all inclusive–there are so many healthy ways of dealing with stress.  My hope in sharing this information is that you might see a couple of new ideas for coping if you are going through a stressful season.  And remember–  dealing with stressful and tough situations is HARD and I’m betting you’re doing the best you can.

So what about you? How do you deal with stress? What things are stressful for you? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Jenn April 12, 2015 at 8:55 am

I clean my house. I tell my husband only emotionally disturbed people have clean houses! LOL! It works really well for me because it takes my mind off the problem a bit and it results in at least one area of my life being under control. Plus it just makes me feel better to look at a clutter and dirt free space.

Whitney April 13, 2015 at 11:45 am

Jenn, I do this too! It seems like the more stressed I am the cleaner my house gets. I’m like you, it just makes me feel better to know that at least one thing is under control!

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