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Stress: How to beat it

By Jo Ellen Cramer Nicholson

In one day I can wear the hat of a wife, mother, nurse, counselor, grandmother, friend, teacher and administrator. Each role would like 100 percent of my time. How can I possibly meet all these expectations?

Many life events can add bad stress or distress — things like the death of a loved one, divorce, financial difficulties or trouble at work. Yet stress also has a positive side (called eustress). Many delightful things are related to stress: a wedding, a new baby, a new job, going back to school. Good stress is needed to make life exciting and meaningful.

Our bodies react the same way to bad or good stress. We put out adrenaline to increase our circulation and steroids to get extra glucose to our muscles to enable us to overcome the stress. The mechanism helps relieve our immediate stress.

Problems come when we are overstressed and the stress hormones are continually present in our bodies. We can poison our bodies with our own elevated stress hormones. This can lead to high blood pressure, headaches, racing heart and fatigue. The Lord wants to be our source of strength and peace.

One of my best stress relievers is prayer, inviting Jesus into my day and asking Him to help me set priorities. I cannot be everything to everybody. But I can be something to many people I will meet today.

You create your own environment by the choices you make. Excitement is catching. Criticism is contagious. Cynicism breeds suspicion and distrust. Calmness can bring peace. Clutter adds to stress. You can create a calmer, less stressful place by removing clutter. At work spend the first few minutes of every day straightening your immediate surroundings. A good motto is: “If in doubt, throw it out.”

In your home, create one neat and uncluttered area for a retreat space. The parlor in older homes was the visitor greeting room — a small living room where children did not play. Yet all of the family used it when life became hectic.

Think of ways to create calm. At work or at home, be aware of your choice of words, the tone of your voice and the gestures you use. Make your environment an affirming place rather than one where there is yelling and criticism.

Even in the most trying circumstances you can choose to be pleasant. If you are having difficulty with your moods, ask Jesus to help you. Refuse to allow others to have the power to ruin your day. If they want to be grouchy, that is their problem; you choose to be more peaceful and calm.

50 Tough Questions
Compiled & edited by Hal Donaldson and Ken Horn

Managing Stress through Positive Christian Living
Paul Lee, Mark Ryan & Carole Ryan

A Journey to Victorious Praying
Bill Thrasher

To order, click here or call

Leave me alone, please.

Your desk is piled high. Deadlines are past due. You think, I can make it through the day if people leave me alone.

We wish people knew when our last nerve was stretched to its limit. The truth is they don’t. You need to develop a way to let people know when you are overwhelmed.

I feel tired and stressed out all the time.

Physical exercise is the way your body (liver) neutralizes those stress hormones. Exercise not only lowers adrenaline and steroids, it actually enhances the secretion of serotonin. Serotonin is a natural mood elevator. The solution for fatigue seems so easy, but many of us find every excuse not to exercise.

Learn to close circles.

Our physical energy can be exhausted. After a good rest we are restored. Our coping energy can also be exhausted. But how do we take a stress rest?

One way is by closing circles. Each unfinished task is an open circle. Each item on your to-do list is an open circle. As long as the job is hanging over your head, it is sapping your coping energy. Find an easy way to close those circles. Write short notes instead of long letters. Delegate tasks and then let them go. The other person will not do it just like you would, but it is getting done. The circle is closed. Send money for gifts (young people prefer it). Find short answers to long problems. Share your to-do list with another and take advice about how to close your open circles to decrease your stress.

Expect mistakes.

The only person who never makes a mistake is the one who does nothing. Go with the flow of life. Stop struggling against the current. Roll over on your back and float.Remember, feeling anxious is normal. Learn the art of calming yourself by choosing to have peace and joy in the Lord.

Jo Ellen Cramer Nicholson lives in Springfield, Mo.

From 50 Tough Questions: Relevant answers for today’s concerns
(Springfield, Mo.: PE Books, 2002). To order, call 1-800-641-4310
and ask for item # 02T-Q3033.

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