Although you might not always see or read about it here, our family has endured quite a few hardships the last few years, the sort that have worn down our bodies and drawn out our depths. I know we’re not the only ones to encounter difficulty and loss, to have to work through challenging decisions and constraints. Isn’t it encouraging to have that thought, to know we’re not alone? I’ve noticed a few more wrinkles in my skin and gray strands on my head since then, something I may have cringed about a decade ago, but I see them differently now–markings of perseverance, of bravery, of hope. It’s funny how perspectives change.
Whether we recognize it or not, stress and anxiety touch all of us at different points in life, and while the topic itself is much larger and more layered than I could possibly give attention to, I thought it might be helpful to hear some of the skills/tools I’ve learned in the process.
meditate on truth // As stated in my bio, I believe in Jesus. I believe he was God’s only son, and that he came to earth, died, and rose from the dead so that we could be free–the type of free that releases us from stress and anxiety. Over and over, Jesus beckons the weary, the sick, the broken, and enslaved, “come to me, and I will give you rest for your souls.” Still, we are human. Our scope and vision are always limited, and in our nature, we’re prone to worry. Take time to let go of this worry and stress and meditate on true, life-giving words. (If you need a few to get you started, please email me.)
give thanks // It can feel over-said and cliche, but recording or speaking gratitude always realigns my heart in a good way. It forces me to see beyond what I am experiencing, feeling, or thinking in the moment. During these times of thanksgiving, I have often found God’s goodness and faithfulness in the most unexpected ways.
stretch // One of the ways I’ve learned to notice stress in my body is soreness in my shoulders. When I feel stress, I shirk my shoulders up toward my head without even knowing it. Over time, my shoulders and neck become knotted and tense. This happens in less obvious ways over the rest of my body. Taking 10-15 minutes each day to stretch different parts of my body helps release tension and helps me recognize how I may be feeling at the moment.
get outside // Sometimes our souls need physical space to breathe. We need fresh air, exercise, and to be surrounded by things that are greater than us. Go for a walk or try to work outdoors when possible.
eat + drink well // When I feel anxious, I tend to gravitate toward coffee, wine, delicious cheeses and baked goods. Although these things aren’t terrible for me in moderation, I can lean on them more heavily to relax or comfort myself when I feel both stress and anxiety. Our bodies need water, fruit, and vegetables. (This note is for me, as I’m currently finishing my second cup of coffee.)
write // When I feel overly stressed and anxious, it almost always interrupts my sleep. I’ll wake up too early or in the middle of the night, thinking. Writing helps me process and release those thoughts and emotions. While I don’t journal daily, I always prioritize journalling in more difficult seasons. Sometimes I even write it here. (Wink.)
I am not a therapist or medical professional. If you’re anxiety or stress feel too overwhelming to do any of the above or if it is not improving, please seek professional help. You’re worth it.