How you handle stress matters.
My post today initially started as an explanation for a recent reduction in my weekly blog posts, and it turned into an all-out focus on handling the stress we face in life. I’m not going to change the initial part of the post as I think it helps provide a window into the stress I’ve been experiencing recently. I don’t know what stress you are dealing with lately, but I’m hoping today’s post will help you as you face life’s challenges.
What is on your goal list?
Are you giving attention to the goals you really want to accomplish?
You may have noticed a recent drop off in the number of posts I am releasing each week. There’s a reason (actually, there are a few reasons):
- I’m working on my next book project. A good percentage of my normal writing time is currently focused on this project. With a busy work and family schedule, I have to be intentional with my time. And in some cases, this means I have to give up something to get something else. Once I get through this book project, I hope to post more frequently. Until then, I’m learning to be content with a post or two per week.
- I’ve had a few “distractions” in my life lately. Without going into too much detail, these distractions have been related to my job, my home, my family, and our upcoming missions trip to Guatemala. Most of these things are great, but they have required a significant portion of my regular bandwidth. For my job, I’m preparing to visit Chicago at the end of the month for an exclusive leadership development workshop. The pre-work for this workshop will ensure I get the most out of the experience which will team me up with leaders from Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. For my family, we are navigating the college selection process for the first time with our oldest child. We are supporting our son as he works on his Eagle Scout project. And we’re running between various activities at the track, the concert hall, and elsewhere. My parents are also going through some health challenges and life transitions. And our family is trying to put the finishing touches on our plans to go back to Guatemala this summer. (You can support us here or here.)
Life is about choices.
If you are a “Go Getter” like me, you have to come to terms with this fact: You can’t do everything.
Sometimes you have to let go of the good, so you can focus on the great. And sometimes you have to sacrifice some of the things on your personal agenda, so you can focus on the things that come your way in the course of life.
As I’ve faced some of the recent challenges (and “distractions”), I’ve dealt with some anxiety, some sleepless nights, and some emotion. To put it simply, I’ve experienced stress. Stress is a normal part of life in today’s world. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know handle ourselves when the stress levels climb. As I work through my the stress in my life, I’ve developed a list to help me deal with the stress. I’m hoping this will help you when you deal with stress.
10 Essentials For Overcoming the Stress in Your Life
- Eat right. Eating junk only drags you down. When stress happens, our eating habits are the first things to be compromised. Junk in equals junk out. Put the good stuff in to help you overcome the stresses you are juggling. Eat regularly. Balance your intake with proteins and plant-based carbohydrates. Drink plenty of water. Avoid excess sugar and caffeine. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume.
- Exercise. When we get too busy, we often forget to take care of ourselves physically. Regular exercise is paramount to dealing with an abundance of stress, and it’s essential for building you up for the future challenges you will face. Regular cardio and strength training gives you more energy and helps build your immune system.
- Get sleep. I struggle with this one. We all need different amounts of sleep, but most of us need far more sleep that we actually get. The past few months, I have returned to taking a nap or two on the weekend. These short siestas help restore my energy levels to better handle the challenges of the upcoming week. Try going to bed earlier (I’m preaching to myself now). Turn off the electronics and the television. Read a book. Drink a warm glass of milk. And head to bed early.
- Get fresh air. Too often, we get stuck in the office all day. Our only fresh air intake happens when we walk into the office at the beginning of the day and when we walk to our car at the end of the day. Use your lunch time to take a quick walk or to visit a local park. Breathe in the fresh air.
- Practice gratitude. When stress levels begin to elevate, we tend to become more negative. We forget to appreciate what is going on around us. Find a way to practice gratitude. Start a gratitude journal, and write in it every day. Write down two or three things you appreciated about your day. You’ll be surprised to see the impact of this discipline on your stress levels.
- Plug into a support system. You may need a little help from your friends. I’m in three or four groups that encourage me through tough times. We all need a this kind of support system. I meet with 13 other men on a weekly basis. I meet with a small group of entrepreneurs every other week. I meet with a group of families twice a month. And I meet with a group of fellow managers every week at my office. These meetings are essential to balancing the stresses of life. These groups have been a place for me to let out some of the emotion I am dealing with and to calibrate my responses to whatever is happening in my life. If the stress levels continue to rise, I’d highly recommend professional counseling. Several years ago when I was going through a very stressful time in my life, I met with a counselor for several weeks. These sessions helped.
- Stay connected with those who are closest to you. Stress impacts our relationships with those we love. In order to counterbalance this natural tendency, it’s imperative that we find ways to spend time together so we can connect. My wife and I practice a weekly date night which helps. Plan ahead for time away from the normal routines and pressures of life. My wife and I are planning a trip to Vermont in June to celebrate our 20th anniversary and to simply connect away from home. If you have children, date them too. Take your son or daughter out for ice cream or for a bike ride. Time together with those we love builds better relationships and builds a foundation for dealing with the stresses of life.
- Stay grounded in God’s word. Don’t underestimate the power of God’s word in overcoming the challenges of life. God’s word encourages, teaches, and reminds us of truths we must remember when life gets challenging. One of the verses that came back to me recently is Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“
- Pray. My prayer life has increased recently. Pray for God’s intervention in the challenges you are facing. Pray for wisdom, peace, and joy. Pray for those who seem to be coming against you. Pray that God would use the challenges you are facing now to help others later. Stress often leads to bitterness, so we must pray that God would change our hearts.
- Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Keep going. Don’t let the stress stop you from moving ahead. Learn. Take one step at a time. And keep stretching!
I feel better already.
How about you?
How do you handle stress? What do you do to overcome stress in your life? Why do you think it’s important to address our response to stress?
If you are looking for additional help in handling stress, I think the 7 Week Stretch Challenge could help. Sign up below: