And a great time to draw awareness to reducing the effects of stress. Women in general carry many burdens. Burdens that can translate into stress, and if left unmanaged, stress becomes anxiety that affects the mind, body and soul. It is our nature as women to wear many hats and learning how to balance those hats with self-care is key. From the list below, what hats are you wearing in this season of your life?
Wife Mother Daughter Sister Grandmother Aunt Caretaker Cook Housecleaner College Student Laundry Specialist Taxi Driver Volunteer Worker Leader Boss Encourager Bible Student Events Director Party Planner Nutritionist Athlete Teacher Risk Management Counselor Nurse
Many things in life are out of our our control, but if we can learn how to manage what is in our control we can reduce the effects of stress on the mind and body. My desire is not to give you another list of things you cannot accomplish, but rather a toolbox of ideas. Ideas that you can pull out, explore and implement as needed…as desired.
Below are 12 tools tailored just for the busy women of today’s culture. I have included a link where applicable so you don’t have to search it out yourself, as well as lists of go-to’s. I wanted to make this as easy on you as possible. No stress…just relief!
Stress and anxiety can negatively impact your natural sleep cycle making impossible to get a good night’s sleep. Lying in bed worrying or over-thinking takes over and tossing and turning never ends. Then, the lack of sleep due to stress starts to contribute to the stress. It is important to get a good night’s sleep to reduce stress…but how? Aroma Mama shares 17 Tips on Getting a Good Night Sleep.
Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority. Try different techniques until you find what works.
Exercise is a healthy way to release stress from the body. As stress builds up it needs to be used up before it has a chance to store-up. Once stress gets stored in the body, then mind and body problems begin to occur. I know I have been guilty of thinking exercise is just another “have-to-do” on the list of items I fail at. However, this is so important to reducing stress that it must become a priority.
“As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.” The Mayo Clinic
Try walking, hiking, biking, swimming, running, kickboxing (great stress relief!), or even vigorous housework like mopping or yard work. Or how about turning on some tunes and dancing your stress away? Make it fun and ask a family member or friend to join you. Or if you prefer to exercise alone use this as time to listen to rejuvenating music or podcasts and feed your soul too!
What goes into the body affects how the body feels. When stress is high or anxiety has taken over it is easy to want to binge on sweet, salty or fatty foods because they release a dose of serotonin which temporarily boosts your mood. However, it is short lived. Rather than turning to unhealthy comfort foods…why not find some healthy comfort alternatives? In this articles by Grace Filled Plate you can learn 10 Easy Ways to Make a Meal More Healthy or check out these comfort food alternatives in Dessert Recipes. I especially like the banana nut muffins!
“Stress and diet have always been linked. It is possible that someone eating a healthy, balanced diet is going to be far less stressed than someone eating a poor diet.” www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk
A natural way to address stress is to use essential oils. Essential oils are a highly concentrated version of the natural plant. These aromas have an impact on mood and feelings. Think about how your mood changes when you walk into a room and smell hot apple pie baking…your temperament perks up as you take in the apple cinnamon smell…maybe your stomach begins to growl too! The right aromas can be used to reduce stress and calm the mind. In this article by Aroma Mama 30 Essential Oils to Reduce Stress you can read more about these essential oils, their benefits and claim a free printable.
“Essential oils are an easy and effective way to reduce our stress load to benefit our health and all of those around us.” Aroma Mama
Reading a book on anxiety, stress or life’s challenges has always been a go-to for me. It’s a chance to learn and grow or receive comfort during challenging time. A fellow Hope Writer has provided this list of great books 10 Books for When Life’s Hard book recommendation list.
“They can inspire us to keep going, reassure us we’re not alone, give us answers we’ve been searching for, and connect us to God when we’re tempted to ditch Him.” Niki Hardy
In one of my recent posts, (Unfavorable Emotions and Christianity) I point out that often feelings follow thoughts. If you’re feeling anxious, worried and stressed it is a good time to check your thought life. What are you spending time mulling over? Renewing your mind in the Word of God will overpower the negative thoughts...it does take discipline though. In this article Stress Leads to Negative Thinking: Renewing Your Mind in Truth, Naomi gives practical questions to ask yourself and Bible verses to meditate on.
“When under stress I tend to listen to the negative thoughts stemming from the pressure I feel rather than speaking truth to myself.” Naomi, Christian Resource Ministry
Prayer has a profoundly positive affect on the body. As one comes to God with thanksgiving, unloading burdens and remembering how good and powerful God is…it relieves stress and connects us to our Maker. In this beautiful article, Love (and Prayer & Mediation) on the Brain written by Patti at Flourish, she discusses the research that has been done and the MRI’s that prove prayer’s power. It is a must-read!
“Prayer and meditation on the brain, however, have shown purely strong positive associations over three decades of research (both in terms of the physical brain and the mental brain referred to as the mind). These include increased memory and ability to focus, reduction in stress, change in perspective, relaxation, decreased anxiety and depression, etc.” Patti, Flourish
Journaling is a great way to get all those feelings out without caring about hurting anyone’s feelings or risking being judged by a listener. It a chance to be honest in the privacy of your paper and pen. Or for me, I use journaling more like written prayer and convestation with God. However you decide to approach it, journaling has therapeutic qualities. If you struggle to write, click HERE to get a FREE list of anti-stress/anxiety journal prompts.
Journaling provides a platform to express your deepest thoughts, release your fears and doubts, and leave it all on the paper.
Not only are reading and writing stress relievers, but so is listening. Music can provoke joyful emotions and lift a mood quickly. The right podcast can redirect thoughts and renew your mind. Keep both a music playlist and your favorite podcast ready at a moments notice. For myself I have a “favorite worship music” playlist that is my go to music. It focuses my attention on God and His power. For podcasts I often listen to Rick Warren’s Daily Hope , Tony Evan’s The Urban Alternative or Focus on the Family’s Daily App.
Need I say anymore! Hobbies and fun must bring pleasant thoughts and feelings. Doing something that you love and enjoy will take your mind off of the stress and give you a stress break. What do you have fun doing? Do you have a hobby that you let slip into the background of your life because life got too busy? Make it a priority to have fun. Schedule a hobby day or at least a few hours. It will do wonders for your stress level.
It seems we have forgotten how to have good old-fashion fun. Fun naturally takes your mind off of the stress and anxiety that is weighing you down.
In our social-media infested world, taking a break from it is a challenge. However, if overused it can add to stress and anxiety. According to the Huffington Post- social media has been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills.
Schedule social media breaks or better yet, limit time on social media. Interact with the people in front of you or look to substituting the social media time with one of the recommendations above like reading, writing, praying or exercising.
Social media must be managed. Otherwise it will eat you alive leaving you depressed, stressed and alone.
Bookmark this post as a go-to all-in-one guide to reducing stress and anxiety. I hope it will help you on your journey to reduce the effects of stress on the mind and body. Remember this guide does not replace seeing a doctor or a therapist. Stress and anxiety can be serious and consulting a professional is a wise decision. If you have any other helpful hints to reducing stress that you would like to share…please let us know.
Sincerely with Hugs,