Stress affects everyone and seems to be a normal part of life. Have you ever asked yourself why modern life is stressful despite all the new technologies we have nowadays? Aren’t we all supposed to be more relaxed, happier, and enjoying life to the full?
So, what is stress? It is defined as a feeling of emotional or physical tension. Stress is our body’s response to pressure and is often triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self or when we feel that we have little control over a situation.
You know you are stressed when you start to feel overwhelmed, agitated, restless, frustrated, unable to relax, or having too many thoughts running through your mind without being able to control them.
Stress is different for everyone. What may be stressful for one may not for the other. It’s always about our reaction to something or someone that causes tension in us.
What are some sources of stress?
- Changes in our life. When unexpected events happen like the pandemic, we may feel distressed. Covid-19 has affected our way of living and to make matters worse, we don’t seem to have control over it. We are pressured to change our lifestyle and our freedom to travel is being restricted.
- Perfection. When we want everything to be perfect all the time or be the way we want them to be, we become stressed when things don’t go as planned and our expectations not met.
- Uncertain future. With the pandemic, we may wonder what the future holds for us. All our plans are disrupted, and we can’t seem to have clear visibility of tomorrow. We feel insecure.
- Too many responsibilities and not enough time. When we take on too many tasks and want to carry them out all at the same time, we feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, we only have 24 hours each day and can only do so much.
- Social Media. Being connected to others via social media is great. But it becomes so easy to compare our life to others and become envious of what they have. This puts additional stress on us if we start to focus on the number of followers and likes we have or what we should be or should have to follow the trend and feel part of the group. It can also create an unhealthy competition of who looks best or has the best life (at least on social media).
- Being constantly dissatisfied. When we feel that we need more or are entitled to more to be happy- more money, more possessions, more power, more recognition, more and more, we become stuck in a vicious circle of never being satisfied with what we have. This eventually causes stress as we strive for more.
- Conflicts. When our relationship with others, whether in our personal or professional life is strained, we become frustrated and agitated.
- Toxic people. They simply drain us. They seem to always focus and complain about the bad and wrong things in life. They will also either position themselves as victims to win sympathy/attention or bad-mouth others to gain power. And listening to them will only be detrimental to us.
And the list goes on. Living day in day out with stress harms our mental and physical wellbeing. So, we must learn to deal with and handle it the right way.
How to handle Stress?
- Identify what triggers stress in your life. Whether it is a situation, a relationship, or any particular problem, find what makes you tense and restless.
- Give your stress to God and let go. Ask God for his wisdom and guidance in every circumstance. The Lord is your helper. He won’t let you down when you turn to him. (Psalm 54:4) He will show you the way and give you His peace. (John 14:27)
- Trust God with all your uncertainties, doubts, and fears. He said that He has good plans for your life. (Jeremiah 29:11) You may not understand all the bad things happening in the world, but you can be sure that God will take care of you, protect and guide you if you trust Him. (Psalm 91) Your security comes from Him.
- Be mindful of your emotions. They are an indicator of what’s happening in you. Recognize them, write them down or talk with a trustworthy person about them.
- Learn to be in the present. Stop overthinking about the ‘should have’ and ‘would have’. Accept the present situation no matter how difficult it may be. Change what you can and let God do the rest.
- Prioritize. Make a priority list with the most important tasks you need to attend to and try to delegate what you can. It will help alleviate the burden.
- Take time to relax. This may seem like a very difficult thing to do but taking a rest will be of greater help. Constantly focusing on what’s stressing you will affect your mental, emotional and physical well-being badly. Taking a break can mean walking outside for 15 mins or listening to music or having a massage.
- Physical activity. Whether you like running, dancing, or going to the gym, exercise will help restore your body to a calmer state and will also improve the quality of your sleep.
- Control your thoughts. During stressful times, we tend to have all sorts of negative thoughts running through our minds. They only make things seem worse. So, learn to reframe your thinking. You can replace them with the word of God. It will help you refocus and regain control over your thoughts.
- Watch what you say. If you give in to complaining and saying how stressed you are, it will only intensify your frustration. But declaring that “God will help me through this”, or “I will overcome this problem with God’s strength” will encourage you.
- Know your purpose. When you know what’s your passion and what you want to accomplish, you won’t be wasting your time comparing with others or envying them. You will remain focused on your dreams and goals.
- Be content. Every person has his/her own journey of life and is in different seasons. So, wherever you find yourself right now, learn to be content. There is a purpose for each season. Ask God what you need to learn during this particular time and how to make the most of it.
- Set boundaries with negative people. It doesn’t mean that you hate them, just that you choose to have hope and be positive. So, surround yourself with people who will encourage you, help you grow, and support you in every situation.
I think in our modern life, we have too much on our plate. We are exposed to so many ideas, information, standards of beauty, lifestyle, and productivity that somehow whether we like it or not we feel compelled to follow the trend and be up to par.
But it’s necessary to remind ourselves that we are human beings. We have only one life and we are free to choose how we want to live it.
If as a woman you feel stressed and overwhelmed, I’d love to connect. Book a free discovery session on Cindy@anewforpurpose.com