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FIRST-PERSON: Humor, friends, exercise, prayer among keys for handling stress

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Pressing deadlines at work. Conflicting family schedules. A midnight call that a friend is in the hospital. Losing a job. Caring for a sick child. Managing the care of an elderly parent. Planning a wedding. Having a new baby. Discovering a personal health issue. What do all these life circumstances have in common?


Whether perceived as positive or negative, these things happen in life at different times, each creating a certain amount of uneasiness and lack of control to the daily routine of “normal” life.

When stress is not managed well, it leaves your body open to disease and illness. Properly managing the stress of life (which happens every day to all of us) will help you achieve your wellness goals. See if the following tips will help you to better maintain a peaceful spirit during stressful times.

1. Use your sense of humor. On those days when everything seems to be going backwards, choosing to laugh at the irony of your circumstances not only lifts your mood but also puts your situation into an eternal perspective. The Bible confirms this in Proverbs 17:22: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

2. Develop a social support system. You need friends and family. Enlist their help during stressful times. They can always support and lift you up in prayer.

3. Exercise. Regular exercise will remove the buildup of the toxic effects from stress and use the “stress hormones” in a positive way instead of a harmful way. Studies show that taking a 10-minute walk during intense times will increase the amount of oxygen to your brain, allowing you to think more clearly and therefore make better decisions.

4. Choose to eat nutritious food. Eat foods that contain healthful sources of nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals. God designed these nutrients to help your body with energy needs and to build and repair damaged tissue. Without these, you leave your body lacking what it needs. So, grab that apple instead of a candy bar in the afternoon.

5. Maintain a healthy weight. Extra body weight can add to the extensive workload of your heart as it tries to supply blood through the 200 miles of blood vessels per pound of fat. Keeping your weight in a healthy range will enable your body to more effectively deal with stress. Weight is only one of the many health indicators that impact your stress management. See your doctor for a complete picture of your health and ask him/her what is a healthy weight for your age and body type.

6. Spend time in relationship with God. He knows your struggles, fears and needs. He understands your worries and concerns. He desires to walk through life with you and give you strength. Consider what he has in store for you or what he wants you to do for others. Seek out the lessons he desires to teach you through your circumstances. Look for his mercy and strength to carry you. This is the foundational element in total wellness of heart, soul, mind and strength.

Stress is inevitable. How you respond to it will determine your growth. Take steps to manage stress as God would desire for you to. “Be still,” God said, “knowing that I am God.”
Polk is the health ministry specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn., and the national spokesperson for “Fit 4: A LifeWay Christian Wellness Plan.” For more information about such Fit 4 such resources as the “Fit 4 Fitness Starter Kit” and “Fit 4 Nutrition Starter Kit,” go to www.fit4.com.

    About the Author

  • Branda Polk