By Rev. Dr. Curt Keller
The first step we should take in handling stress is to observe what has worked in the past and then doing what we can that has worked in the past. I looked at using success in the past in the last article. In this article I will look at some things we might add to that.
The next thing we can do is try to add some new stress relieving activities. Finding lists of natural stress reducers is not very hard. We can do a search for them on the internet. (I am not talking about dietary supplements or anything we would eat or drink.) Much of this has to do with brain chemicals and producing good ones while reducing negative ones. And as you seek out what are natural stress relievers, you must think about what you would actually be willing to do and keep doing.
Here are some ideas.
Hugging your partner. Giving your spouse a nice long hug can reduce stress, a simple hug. I am not talking about hugs that lead to stress, just hugging. (Although, sex can also relieve stress.) Related to hugging your partner would be hugging your child. Hugging/holding your pet can also reduce stress. (Unless your pet is a fish, then do not hold it.) A warm furry pet in your lap can help reduce stress.
Exercise is a good stress reducer. Deciding what exercise to do depends on what you are comfortable with doing and what your current physical condition allows you to do. Do not go out and buy exercise equipment that you will not use as then you may just add to your stress as you look at the clothes hanging on it telling yourself you need to do more exercise. You may simply want to start with taking a walk or a bike ride. Something easy and see if you can gravitate to something that will be sustainable – walking and biking can be the preferred exercises. You will want an exercise that will raise you heart beat enough to create some good chemicals. (This means that you can keep your exercise in the range that is healthy for you.) You will also need to know if you can sustain your exercise regimen if you do it by yourself, or if it will be best to exercise with others – at a gym or pool...
Talking with others can provide stress relief. This involves simply getting together with a friend or more and having pleasant conversation. If one focuses on problems during the gathering, it may add to stress. Yes, one can talk on the phone or by text with others. However, doing this in person seems to be me effective in reducing stress.
Reading can be stress reducing. It is best to read novels to reduce stress, not work related material. The novels can let our minds escape from the everyday stresses. Reading also allows one to focus on the book, so other parts of life are not in the thoughts for a period of time. Listening to music might relieve stress, but we can too easily allow our focus to go to things that might remove the stress relieving part as we simply look around while listening to the music.
Meditation is also stress relieving. One can find guided meditations designed to help alleviate stress free on YouTube. Get on YouTube and search “mindfulness” or “guided meditations” and perhaps you can find one that you will enjoy. The concept is that it will allow you to calm your mind and body while your brain produces some good chemicals and reduces stress producing chemicals.
I have offered some suggestions and would encourage you to do some searches for other things that may be of help in reducing stress. Remember to reduce stress, if you are feeling stressed, you will probably need to be doing something different than what you are already doing.