Friday, August 10, 2007

The Art of Managing Stress

What causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ? For me it is the big stuff topped off with the whipped cream and cherry of the small stuff. The big stuff is so obvious that I know it going to be stressful so I am on guard and I do all the things I know to do to maintain calm but add the whipped cream and cherry of life events and I 'm over the edge with a migraine, stomache ache, foul mood, sleeplessness and irritability.

Exercise, especially if it is a prayer walk, is a great stress buster. I put on my shoes head out the door, listen to an inspirational tape or music and then pour my heart out to Jesus while I am pounding the pavement. Cleaning the house while eating chocolate and listening to good music helps too. The house cleaning part makes me feel like I did something to sove the problem. Chocolate is just plain good and reminds me to taste and see that the Lord is good. Boy and I rationalizing here or what about the chocolate? A trusted friend that will listen and prayerfully offer Godly council and not just what they think will make me feel better is worth their weight in gold. Nothing beats reading God's Word and reflecting on the psalms of the lives of the saints, especially if there is a cat curled up in your lap at the same time!. I like to read the blogs of people who are on a journey of faith. They inspire me to keep moving in mine. I find blogging or jouranling and doing art work also helps me unwind and focus on my real goal, to love the Lord my God with all my heart soul and mind and to love my neighbor as myself.

What is your favourite music to chill out to? I find myself humming James Taylor's, "Going to Carolina in my mind." I imagine Carolina being like heaven and being there with others who are looking for refuge. I love Twila Paris's "God is In Control" and will put that on and belt it out with her. I need to sing it at the top of my lungs to drown out my own thoughts of wanting to grab control of my life at the moment. Isn't that what get's us into trouble most of the time with this stress thing? Feeling a sense of entitlement that we deserve a break today, yesturday, tomorrow? That we deserve to be on throne seated at the right hand of God, not Jesus?

Anywhere I can find where I can be alone is good to get focused again. The woods are the best for me. They draw me with the smells of earth and green living things. Our back yard is woodsy. In the wintertime in the snowbelt, in a small house with dogs, cats, kids and a husband finding a quiet place isn't always easy. Some of my best setling down then is done driving the car on the highway to a grocery store. I can say I am getting groceries, but I really have an ulterior motive. Where do you go to chill?

I am pretty introspective and reflective although I do love being around people. I find after a day teaching school surrounded by people that I need silence and time alone. A party is the last thing I want to attend. I prefer small gatherings of people around a shared meal of well prepared food in a quiet place.

I have shared some of my stress busting tips, please feel free to share your favourite.