We must learn new ways to cope with our unhealthy stress. I will share various causes of unhealthy stress and ways to cope with stress.
Are you frequently overwhelmed by all you have to do?
Do you often experience feelings of stress, guilt, fatigue, frustration, and anger because of the burdens you face in life?
If so, you’re not living the abundant life that God intends for you to live. God wants you to be emotionally healthy and able to live with peace and joy, no matter what circumstances you may go through.
You can enjoy that kind of life if you quit doing things that damage your soul and sabotage your ability to enjoy good emotional health. Here’s how you can change your life to be emotionally healthy:
Don’t compare yourself to others. You are unique and can do a limited number of things well.
Release yourself from the pressure of trying to please other people and focus solely on pleasing God. God’s opinion of you is the only one that ultimately matters. You have inherent worth because God has made you in His image, and you don’t need to try to earn God’s approval if you place your trust in Jesus, because Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for your sins is enough for you to be set right with God.
Take a few days to pay attention to how you may be trying to use words and actions to gain approval from other people. Then pray about what you notice, asking God to empower you to change those unhealthy habits and give you the confidence to simply be yourself when interacting with people. Read Bible verses that describe God’s love for you, and reflect on them often. Choose to base your identity on God’s love for you rather than on what others think of you.
Even if you don’t deliberately lie, you may be lying to God, yourself, or other people without realizing it if you’re not careful to live with complete emotional honesty. Do you find yourself avoiding commenting on something when telling the truth would be awkward or painful? God wants you to feel free to always speak the truth in love and the degree to which you speak the truth is the degree to which you are free.
Ask God to give you the strength to live with emotional integrity in every situation from now on. Expect conflict to occur in your relationships after you change the dynamics of them by being honest about your views. But trust that God will help you through it well if you proceed respectfully and at the right timing while avoiding blame and taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings.
While God does want you to die to sinful things that harm your soul, He doesn’t want you to deprive yourself of gifts He makes available to you to nurture your soul. So don’t deny yourself healthy pleasures, such as taking walks outdoors, getting together with friends for a meal or concert, or pursuing a hobby you enjoy.
Keep in mind that you must care well for yourself before you can care well for other people God wants you to serve (such as your spouse and children).
Accept the reality that you have emotional, mental, and physical limits to what you can do without becoming overly stressed and realize that those limits are gifts from God, meant to help you make wise, healthy choices.
Discover yourself by getting to know your heart (your thoughts, feelings, and values), your story (how your past has influenced the way you think and behave now), and your personality. Once you learn more about yourself, use that information to care for yourself well from now on.
Embrace the full range of your emotions including difficult feelings like anger, sadness, and fear so that you can learn what God wants you to learn from them. Instead of denying or suppressing your emotions, decide to feel them fully, so you can explore them. Consider recording your feelings in a journal to help you identify your emotions and reflect on them.
Ask God to help you discern the specific reasons why you’re feeling the way you are. Then take appropriate action, responding to the information your feelings give you, however, God leads you to do so.
Sometimes traumatic stress is so severe that professional help is necessary for working through it. This is the smart thing to do; it is not a sign of weakness. It takes a lot of courage to work with a professional, to face your pain and fear. Be proud of yourself and not apologetic.
Working through post-traumatic stress takes a long time and it is never really finished. Try to accept this and in time you can put things in proper perspective. What has happened is over and you cannot change it. You can learn from what happened and gain inner strength as time passes.
The bottom line in dealing with traumatic stress is to face it. If it can be faced squarely and dealt with constructively, that is half the battle. THINK POSITIVE
Cope With Unhealthy Stress
Our busyness can lead to unhealthy stress. That means we must learn to prioritize our commitments going forward. Learn to categorize your commitments by what you have to do compared to what you would like to do.
Be selective when committing to do something by a particular time frame, life happens.
Start your conversation by saying ‘at this time I will not be able to commit to ” ” I will let you know if that changes.
Too much stress can make falling or staying asleep difficult.
When we were teenagers we needed about 10-12 hours of sleep a night and that was because our bodies were growing and maturing rapidly. As adults, we may only need 8 hours of sleep each night.
If falling or staying asleep describes what you are experiencing, I suggest that you speak with a healthcare provider to learn new ways that will help you overcome your exhaustion.
Finding safe people to talk to and share your experiences with can be helpful. We must understand that most people are feeling the same peer pressures.
Journaling your thoughts and feelings can also be therapeutic.
Know that good nutrition helps alleviate your stress because you feel better and you will have more energy.
Let’s be honest with ourselves that all the not good for me food tastes good and it seems to be cheap and convenient for us to obtain.
- Have you ever looked at the ingredients you are consuming?
Regular exercise is a proven to be a great stress reducer and it will physically benefit your body for the long haul. Exercise relieves tension, helps you relax and will even help you sleep better that is if you don’t exercise right before bed time.
Work hard to do your best for yourself and learn to be realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish. Attempting to be perfect creates stress and may even destroy you and your relationships. Do what works for you.
Having symptoms of stress means your mind and body are going through some adjustments or trying to recover normal responses.
Symptoms we may experience can be physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral. They are best seen as normal reactions to unusual circumstances.
- Physical and emotional tension, being excessively hyper, unable to relax or sit still for very long, muscle tremors or twitches.
- Nausea and throwing up may occur especially during or immediately after an incident.
- Profuse sweating or chills at unusual times.
- Either the inability to fall asleep, disruptive dreams or nightmares or waking up earlier than usual.
- Always tired. No pep or energy.
Individuals who are provided immediate intervention through critical incident stress debriefing and peer support will not need long term counseling.
Events We Need To Cope With
The signs and symptoms may last a few days, weeks, or months, based on the severity of the traumatic event.
- Thinking about the incident or some recurring memory associated with the incident when you don’t want to.
- The unpleasant feelings that may come without warning, such as profound sadness, helplessness, fear, anxiety, anger, rage, discouragement, frustration, or depression.
- Feeling exposed to a threat, not in control of one’s life anymore, or paranoia. A feeling of vulnerability.
- Increased irritability, insensitivity, blaming others, wanting distance instead of closeness.
- Using a substance “self-medication” can be a symptom of stress.
- Increased problems such as compulsive eating or other compulsive behaviors.
- Self-blame with some particular aspect of the incident. “I could have done this or should have done that.”
With understanding and support from peers, management, and loved ones, the reactions usually pass more quickly.
Occasionally, professional assistance from a counselor may be necessary. This does not mean the individual is weak but indicates this person will need additional support.
Strategies To Cope
The following are some procedures that have been used successfully to cope with stress. Some may work for you while others may not. Stick with the ones that seem to work best for you.
Make sure the other person understands you’re not asking for a solution to your feelings, just an opportunity to express how you feel. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, even though it may be painful to do so.
If we allow the thoughts or memories to come back, we can release some of the tension that is making them occur. Painful and fearful thoughts or memories come back when you don’t want them to. That’s normal, but our first reaction is to keep this from happening. You can even say to yourself, “Okay that’s enough!”
Gradually you will gain more control over these intrusive thoughts and feelings. Once you learn to deal with them, they will eventually subside.
If you are having trouble sleeping, try reading or watching television. Nightmares are a very common reaction to traumatic stress. These symptoms are necessary to regain emotional balance and they usually disappear after a couple of weeks.
A Way To Cope
Although they can never be controlled completely, some people have learned to diminish nightmares by deliberately thinking about the trauma sometimes before they go to sleep and then saying to themselves, “Okay, that’s enough, I’m going to dream about something else.”
It is normal to feel some blame just for surviving a traumatic incident, especially if other people were killed or severely injured. Recognize this for what it is: an irrational thought. It is okay to have survived.
Remember that what is upsetting you after a traumatic incident is not the incident itself, but your memory of it. If it is a memory, you can change what you recall.
If some particularly upsetting scene keeps coming back to you, try substituting some other memory of the incident that has less painful emotions associated with it.
To Cope Better
Strenuous exercise afterward is very useful, especially if you’re already in good physical shape. However, don’t overdo it and cause more harm than good.
Get back to work when it is realistic, but accept the jitters that you might feel with the reminders of the incident. These are normal and will go away with time.
Many people feel a “drink” eases tension. However, alcohol is not useful to the body in coping with stress.
Even if the incident was a serious one. Or consequences occurred due to the actions of others. It is okay to enjoy yourself and forget the incident. There may be a time later when you need to recall what happened.
Caring is fine but constant worrying serves no true purpose.
Be kind to yourself, go to a movie, get involved in an activity you enjoy, etc.