Coping with Stress: Healthy Ways to Feel Better
I kid you not, the other day I was driving and saw Christmas decorations sitting in someone’s front yard. Seriously. CHRISTMAS. DECORATIONS. In the first week of October. A few days before that, I was walking through a local store watching my wife stare in wonder at all of the Christmas decor on the shelves. It got me to thinking about the stresses that come with preparing for the holidays, and how many times we try to mentally prepare for the stress we’re going to endure.
Luckily, there are healthy ways of coping with stress that can help you make it through the holiday season, or any other situation you may be dealing with in life.
1. Take care of yourself
The goal of coping with stress is that hopefully your anxious feelings will subside in a few days (or at most a few weeks). To do so, you have to remember to take care of your body. The Centers for Disease Control recommends:
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Get plenty of sleep
- Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out
Many times, when we feel stressed, we tend to either overeat or under-eat. We can become lethargic or develop insomnia. Or, we try to just “push through” without taking the time to understand what our body is trying to tell us. Most often, we ignore the signs.
2. Talk to others
Find other people who you can talk to and trust. Learn what they do to help alleviate their stressful situations. Share your heart with a parent, friend, pastor, or yes, even a counselor (hint hint – you can easily schedule an appointment with me online). Working through these challenges and feelings with a trustworthy helper can help to alleviate a lot of what you’re feeling.
3. Avoid drugs and alcohol
Drugs and alcohol will lie to you. They’ll tell you that they’ll make the stress go away and help you to “forget” about what’s happening. In reality, they typically create additional problems and increase the stress you’re already feeling. And, you run the risk of addiction and challenging health issues down the road. Seriously. Just say no.
4. Take a break
The longer you remain in a stressful situation, the longer it will take to relieve the issue. I realize that may seem obvious, but how often have you known exactly what’s causing you stress and still don’t move away from it? If your stress is caused by family members, consider looking for ways to put up healthy boundaries; If it’s caused by a work situation, consider taking a mental health day if your have the vacation or sick time available (yes, those are really okay), and if you’re struggling with a local or national event (politics anyone?), consider taking breaks from listening to or reading news stories.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” – Psalm 34:17-19