“Do not worry. Learn to pray about everything. Give thanks to God as you ask Him for what you need. 7 The peace of God is much greater than the human mind can understand. This peace will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (NLV)
We’ve all had days when the pressure builds up so much that we don’t know how much more we can take! Personally, I feel anxious when I juggle too many projects and responsibilities, or when I’m having a difficult time in my relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and others.
I don’t know why, but the milestones in my life all seem to happen at once. In college, for example, within the span of about two months, I got engaged, got pregnant, graduated, moved away from home for the first time, and landed my first “real” job. To say that I was overwhelmed is quite the understatement. And another more recent example of too many things happening at once took place when I first moved to California. In addition to the stress of moving a family of four across the country, I was also spending over 40 hours a week shooting a reality show, enrolling my kids into new schools and programs, starting a business, and more. When life picks up, I often feel like I’m losing control.
The pressure tends to sneak up on us, and sometimes it can take a huge toll both physically and emotionally. I often react by wanting to cut myself off from the world and curl up in bed — but the worst thing to do when you’re stressed is to give up or break down.
So, now that I have more responsibilities, and I have no choice but to take care of business and succeed, I decided to work on managing my stress and anxiety better. I understand that everyone gets stressed sometimes, or struggles with the occasional emotional breakdown. In addition, I firmly believe that everyone needs a good cry every once in a while. But what does all this emotional distress do to the body?
It turns out that stress and anxiety have physical consequences. I decided to conduct some research after seeing something about the harmful effects of stress on TV; and after visiting the Mayo Clinic website, where I saw all the effects of stress and realized a lot of those things were going on in my body, I knew it was time to make a change! I simply couldn’t afford to be so stressed out.
Common Effects of Stress on Your Body, Mood & Behavior
Take a look at the following symptoms. I got this info straight from the Mayo Clinic website. If you are experiencing these physical, mood-related, and behavioral effects, then you could be suffering from chronic stress.
Muscle tension or pain
Change in sex drive
Lack of motivation or focus
Irritability or anger
Sadness or depression
Overeating or undereating
Drug or alcohol abuse
How I Manage Stress & Anxiety
Breathe, Stretch, Shake, Let it Go
I know y’all remember that old Mase song! Sometimes you just gotta live it. You’ll be surprised by what a few minutes of deep breathing and meditation or prayer can do for you. Deep breathing allows more oxygen to enter your body; it helps with blood circulations and can result in a number of physical benefits. Also, getting active — going to the gym or heading out for a run around the neighborhood — can cause your mood to improve tremendously. Those endorphins work wonders!
Write it Down, Write it Down !
I’ve always enjoyed journaling. For as long as I’ve known to read and write, I’ve kept a diary. It’s quite therapeutic to get your thoughts on paper. Even if you don’t want to share those thoughts with another soul, articulating your feelings can be very beneficial. It’s also fun for me to reflect on old journal entries, and discover how I’ve grown over the years.
If you’re new to journaling, know that it’s not an expensive activity. You can get a cheap notebook from anywhere! I prefer something with a nice pattern on it — pretty journals are more inviting, in my opinion. Anyway, if you haven’t used this method before, I highly recommend it. Getting everything on paper can help you manage your stress, just like it’s helped me.
Relax — Take a Bath
A nice warm bath — complete with aromatherapy essentials like scented candles and relaxing sounds — is a great way to clear your mind amidst the hustle and bustle of life. Quiet time can be extremely valuable. Throw in elements that help calm your body, and you’ll walk out completely refreshed. I’d like to take more frequent baths because they are instant destressers for me. When the pressure really builds, relaxing in the tub is my go-to remedy.
Treat Yourself to a Massage
Massages are not only a relaxing experience, but also a great way to improve circulation and your overall health. If possible, I recommend investing in a monthly membership at your local spa — that way you can get at least one massage a month!
At my spa, Burke Williams, members gain access to all the fantastic amenities. In fact, on the days I receive a service, I can spend time using the Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and even the garden room! When I have a big week coming up — a week full of constant movement and deadlines — I like to schedule a massage and arrive a few hours early so I can relax. It’s important to make time for ourselves before we give our time to others.
Get Some Fresh Air
It’s simple. Just go outside and take in the sights. Staying inside and getting stir-crazy often makes things worse. Even if you simply open your windows or your front door, being in touch with nature brings bliss and peace of mind — at least that’s been the case for me! A nice hike, or a walk around the neighborhood, can help you clear your mind, organize your thoughts, and reflect on your blessings. Once we begin to change our attitude and focus on what we’re thankful for, our problems become less overwhelming.
God doesn’t want us to stress or worry. He says we must cast all our worries on Him and considerate them handled! Above all else, remember to lean on Him. He would never give you something you can’t handle. So, the next time you feel the pressure building up, unplug, get close to the Lord, try out some of these tips, and feel the weight of the world lifted from your shoulders. You can do it. I believe in you!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not trust in your own understanding. 6 Agree with Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NVL)
Stay blessed, don’t stress!