Stress Part 4: Unplug from The Stress Effect

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I got a great reprieve from our old pal stress over Labor Day Weekend.  My son and I took a trip to California. We hadn’t seen the beach in close to a decade… heck, we hadn’t had time “away” at all in years… and some much-needed R&R was in order.

You know what we saw? People. Happy people. People who were content to just sit in the sand, or chase their kids (minus diaper) up and down the beach. People who were over-the-moon to hike a half mile across ankle deep sand just to get to the shore…no small task, as I learned! People who were playfully JOYFUL about getting their butts kicked by the ocean waves rolling them end-over-end and washing them 20 feet down the beach, lovingly depositing sand in every nook and cranny across their body (I speak from experience on this).

And can I be honest? I was downright emotional to see all this happiness. Nobody was in a hurry… nobody cared if their makeup was perfect, or it their “dad bod” was showing.

It made me wonder… why on earth aren’t people this happy in their day-to-day lives? Could it be the stress chipping away at their joy?

While a lot of us don’t have the beach close enough to enjoy and decompress with on a regular basis, there ARE things we can do to unplug from the stress effect:

1)      Balance   This cannot be overstated. It is crucial to find ways to balance the load we carry. It is far too easy for us to say “yes” to whatever comes our way, and that often means we say “no” to things that are MOST IMPORTANT, like family, friends, and self. Take an inventory of the things you are saying yes to, and eliminate the things that don’t line up with or enhance the things that are most important in life. I guarantee you, there is another mom who can bake 5 dozen cookies for that Kindergarten event 😊.

2)      Change the scenery   Sometimes, just changing what you’re looking at helps relieve stress. It can be a literal trip away, like our Labor Day excursion was. But most likely, you need to literally change WHAT you are looking at on a daily basis. Our vision…how we see things…so greatly impacts our disposition. Sometimes changing the scenery means having a paradigm shift. Being conscious of negative thinking vs. positive thinking, and CHOOSING to think positive, will change how we see the world around us, and change our ability to mitigate stress.

3)      Connect We are meant to be social creatures… even if you’re like me and have a one-person-at-a-time threshold, being with people who “get you” is a de-stresser all on its own. The no-frills approach to friendship allows us to just BE, unwind, and enjoy some quality time getting our souls fed.

4)      LAUGH! My favorite! Listen, I’m just gonna say it… I don’t have time for people who drain the energy from the room (and I hope you don’t either!). Laughter brings life and energy… there’s even a Proverb (17:22) that says a “cheerful heart is good medicine”.  When we laugh, our heart, diaphragm, lungs and abdomen all get a great workout, and our brains are given a nice bath of endorphins. How nice is that??

5)      Listen to your body Getting in tune with your body can relax you both physically and mentally. Lay on your back, breathe deeply, and “unclench” each part of you beginning with your toes. This will help release the tension from your body, while connecting you to areas that may need a little attention.

6)      Exercise It’s no secret that exercise works to release toxins from your body, but the endorphins released when you move does wonders for the brain and mood!  Plus, there’s just something about feeling your body move and breathe and live that is downright liberating!

7)      Go outside! I remember my grandma sending me outside to play whether I wanted to or not, and it turns out, her “old school way” had some serious benefits. Being outside has been shown to improve focus, creativity, enhance mood (thanks, natural light!), and even benefits our quality of sleep!

8)      Journaling Keeping a “Diary”, a gratitude journal, Bible journaling, or simply writing out what you’re thinking can help in a number of ways: bring clarity and balance to your thoughts; help identify patterns, behaviors and areas of potential change; release the emotion of hurt, anger and anxiety; help identify solutions to problems.

My hope for you this week is that you make time time to rest, refresh and RECHARGE!

Thriving with You,

Amanda