The other day, my husband and I were discussing how difficult it is to manage stress in a healthy way. We went on to share some of the bad habits we’d fallen into when dealing with high-stress situations. After this discussion, I decided to do a little research on the topic of stress. I found that there were many articles discussing the management of stress [which I know is incredibly important since stress is one of the most common health ailments], but not necessarily that much attention given to what we should avoid.
After researching a little more and spending some time reflecting on some of my more stressful moments, I decided to put together a short list of things we should avoid when we’re stressed. In doing so, my hope is to help you and I manage our stress in a much healthier way…
#1 – Making Important Life Decisions
Stress is well known for causing people to make bad decisions. Therefore, it seems to go without saying that during times of high stress, we should probably be cautious about making significant life changes (i.e. buying a new house, switching careers, etc.). I know this is sometimes unavoidable, but if you’re dealing with a lot of stress in another area in your life and you can afford to wait on making a decision, you’ll probably be much happier with your choice and the process if you’ll first allow the stressful time to pass.
#2 – Drive
It’s well known that we should never drink and drive. We know that driving under the influence hinders our ability to make good decisions driving and can ultimately lead to needing legal help after a DUI. I didn’t know, however, that driving under high stress can also be incredibly dangerous due to the higher risk of distraction. As a result, if we’re feeling stressed, we might want to wait to drive or see if someone else could drive us.
#3 – Indulge Food Cravings
Oh, this is a tough one for me. When stressed, many people experience significant food cravings, particularly for “junk food” or surgery snacks. While eating these foods technically does cause your serotonin levels to rise and dampen stress, the effect is temporary. When your serotonin levels return to normal you may find that you feel worse than before…and in my experience, I’m angry at myself for taking in all the unhealthy, unneeded calories.
(Side Note: One thing I’ve also noticed about myself when it comes to food cravings is that I’m more apt to give in to them when I don’t have a healthy snack available. So, if you struggle with this, I’ve found having healthy snacks [that you actually like] readily available really helps!)
#4 – Vent Your Feelings
Now, this one is kind of two-sided. If you know for a fact that venting helps you, then by all means, talk to someone you trust. Others of us, however, may find that venting can actually make us feel more stressed. If venting causes you to be overly negative and consumed with what’s going wrong, then it might be something to avoid until your calm and passed the stressful situation. In my experience, going to God first and then reaching out to a friend after I’ve worked through the issue [or at least when I’m in a better state of mind], has always been a better option.
#5 – Force Yourself to Relax
I found this last piece of advice to be very interesting because I’d never really thought about it before. While it’s suggested that forcing yourself to get your mind of things by reading a book, watching a movie, or getting an early night’s rest…these things are really only good for us if they are things we want to do. Rather than focusing on doing something we’re told is relaxing, it is better to explore what activities help you personally manage stress, instead of continuing to relax via the commonly-suggested methods. Maybe you’d rather go work out, get your grocery shopping done, or check off something on your to-do list rather than sit and force yourself to find something on Netflix?
In conclusion, stress is an all-encompassing issue. It consumes our thoughts and can sometimes cause us physical pain. Managing it is not something we should take lightly and for that reason, it’s best for us learn what we need to avoid in order to manage our stress in a healthy way.
If you’re dealing with managing stress know that my prayers are with you. I know it’s not easy, but I also know that God doesn’t want us to have to live a life full of stress and anxiety. He loves you and wants to help carry your burdens…but that means we have to be willing to give up control of those burdens. Giving God our worries has been the only way my husband and I have been able to work through our most difficult stress-filled moments. At first, it was scary to give up control, but in the end, I promise it was worth it.
Praying for you today and always.
Love in Christ,