Stress Management: 5 lessons

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Managing stress is a constant part of life. Before my blood pressure shot up so much that my family doctor locked me in her office until the pills made it normal, I didn't have a game plan. 
Sometimes, you need to stop everything and fix stress. If you don't, stress will stop you.

My doctor, like only a physician can, explained the consequences of allowing stress to go untreated. The only thing I can remember is that if I don't manage it well, I can die earlier than I'm supposed to. 
I told my doctor that I would follow her advice. Each visit included a blood pressure check. It also included small steps that would lead me to greater health. 

The fact that we lived in a small town also included the address to a local farmer nearby who could sell me the fresh greens she recommended. 
Those small town years are long gone. My encounters with stress stayed. I also became a mother after those years. What do I know now that I didn't know before?

Stress is part of life so I need to manage it well. Different seasons of life present different stress sources. I don't get to ignore stress, I get to manage it.
Health must be a priority. I can lie to myself and say I don't have time to exercise and eat well but I won't. Healthy living is a priority. How do I know if it is a priority? I take a simple look in my schedule. 

Don’t stop at Prayer. After you pray about stress, you need to act. God will help you, no doubt. He will also give you a number of resources that if used with prayer, can improve your life. In my case, I needed to rest. I needed to follow my doctor’s advice. I needed to see the doctor every couple of months to be sure my numbers and lab results were matching my healing journey. Don't stop at prayer: pray and work towards healing. 

Ask Questions. Until recently, I never asked myself questions such as “what did I learn about stress management last time?” I follow up with “what did I learn?” When I ask myself questions, I make progress. You can't manage what you won't measure. 

Connect with loved ones. I remember being in a tough situation for a long time. Every day, I was dealing with stress and every night, I had the pleasure of connecting with loved ones. I took extra time to connect. One specially difficult day after work, I packed a picnic and took the kids to the park. Being outside made a world of difference. Enjoying nature, the fresh air and the kids’ joy was all the medicine I needed that day. 

Be selective. I refuse to speak about the source of my stress with someone who is not part of the solution. I can't risk being further frustrated or upset. I will be polite and speak about a different subject. Here's what's funny: most people will not notice you are stressed unless you bring it up. Most people are so wrapped up in their own lives that they don't have the least concern about yours. Only speak with those who are part of the solution. 

What I did know then and I am still know is that stress is part of life. God, in His wisdom, has given me multiple tools to manage and succeed in this area.