I’ve had one of the busiest summers I’ve ever had.
I’ve been to three weeks of summer church camp, traveled to west Texas for a wedding, experienced the deaths and funerals of both my father and my step-father, and still have a mission trip to Arizona next week.
To put it bluntly, my summer has been pretty stressful.
As a result, I’m exhausted, irritable, and overwhelmed. I’ve started clenching my mouth and jaw when I sleep and have developed several stress-related canker sores. Not to mention headaches.
I’m ready for a break.
Heather and I have scheduled a week of vacation for mid-August, so a break is on the horizon.
But in the meantime, I’ve discovered a few things that can help to reduce the stress. Most of these are pretty obvious, but I still managed to neglect them.
- Spend time in prayer and reading God’s Word is an excellent way to reduce stress.
- Laugh. Laugh a lot. Nothing reduces stress like a good laugh, especially with close friends.
- Exercise regularly. A healthy exercise routine can bleed off excess levels of stress.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Negativity breeds stress. Stay positive.
- Avoid becoming defensive. Be assertive, but not defensive.
- Relax. Take a walk. Watch the sunrise or sunset. Clear your mind.
- Eat right. Eating healthy eliminates stress from your body, allowing your mind to function better.
- Get enough sleep. Get good sleep. A great night of rest will do wonders for your body.
- Manage your time effectively. Mismanaged time only creates more stress.
There are more. These are simply the ones I’ve found to work the best in my life.
While there are many sources of stress we have no control over, we do have control over some areas. In order to reduce the stress in our lives, we need to be able to easily identify and address the areas that we can. I think those areas can be summed up into three categories:
Control your attitude
This is perhaps the most important aspect. Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” By changing our attitude, we can rewire our thought patterns and begin to see the same situations in new ways. As our perceptions change, we can adapt our reactions as well. This can give us the ability to roll with a situation that would otherwise be extremely stressful.
Control your speech and actions
Once our attitude has begun to change, we can begin speaking and acting with a more positive perspective. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the the power of life and death is in our tongue. Speaking and acting from a more positive perspective helps us to feel more alive and aids in avoiding deadly stress.
Control your environment
While this one may be a bit harder to control, there are things you can do to eliminate some of the causes of stress. We can choose where we live and work. We can choose how we schedule our time. We can choose the friends we spend time with, the commitments we agree to, and the choices we make. Where we are influences what goes into our lives. And what goes in also comes out. Proverbs 4:23 tells us “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Reducing stress is not an impossibility, although it may seem so at first. Continual attention will result in a life of reduced stress. That’s my goal; especially after the summer I’ve had.
What do you do to reduce stress in your life? You can share your thoughts in the comments section below.