How to Relieve and Reduce Stress



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how to reduce stress

How to Relieve and Reduce Stress

Here is a list people say are the main causes of stress in their lives and they are listed in order of importance to them.

Main Causes of Stress

  • Money
  • Economy
  • Work
  • Family Responsibilities

To find the source for your stress you may have to look deep.

Money

  • You have a good paying job, so is lack of money really a problem or is it because you don’t bother to pay your bills, you are over spending, or the spouse who isn’t paying the bills is spending too much and really causing you problems?

  • Maybe the problem is not a lack of money but a lack of contentment. You are frustrated because you aren’t getting enough money for all your wants and for fun things. You are trying to satisfy emotional needs with material things and are stressed because you can’t get satisfied.

These are just a few examples to illustrate how you need to really look down deep to find the real source of your stress in the area of finances.



Family Responsibilities

Make your home stress free:

  • Have comfortable (not necessarily expensive) things like couches, chairs, beds, lighting.

  • Keep things in order. Have a place for everything and keep it there. More stress is caused by having to look for lost things.

  • Have as much of a routine as possible, like dinner at 5 most days, church on Sunday, children in bed by 8 and meatloaf for dinner on Fridays.

  • Relax. Even though I just said have a routine some people have their lives too controlled and organized and though that may make them feel good it can stress out their friends and family. There is a happy medium.

  • Wear comfortable clothes. It is so frustrating to wear a pair of shoes or jeans that rub or are too tight all the time. That is all you can feel and think about.

  • Less is best. If you find yourself spending ages trying to figure out which of your 25 outfits to wear, cut your wardrobe back to 10 outfits. If you are stressed about what shampoo to buy, pick one you like and stick with it.

  • Forget about returning the e mails and social engagements. Now I don’t mean you have to give them up all together, but control them. You don’t need to return that e mail right now. You don’t have to go to every function you or your kids are asked to go to. You are in control of your schedule. If you are feeling out of control then you probably are so take the control back. Say no and stop doing some things. If you don’t then stop complaining about how overwhelmed you are about your life because it is your choice.

Stressing about things never fixes them.

I always say that if we spent as much time dealing with the things that are causing our stress as we do stressing over things, we would solve a good many of our problems and, if nothing else, we would have a much better attitude. I mention this all the time but I think it’s worth repeating. Most of the things we worry about in our lives never happen. If you don’t know if you believe that, try keeping a worry diary. Every time any little worry though comes into your head write it down. At the end of a week or month, look back over it and see how many times the things you stressed over actually happened.

Arrive 15 minutes early

I once heard a psychiatrist say that the one thing that could relieve 50% or more of stress in the average person’s life it to start arriving 10-15 minutes early everywhere they went. Think about what a typical day is like and what a difference it would make if you made sure you arrived 15 minutes early. If you get stopped by a train or traffic jam or the kids can’t find their shoes it is not as tragic because you have a few minutes’ wiggle room for unexpected things. Not to mention how much better the tone of your day is if you aren’t sliding into work 15 minutes late compared to getting there 15 minutes early and having time to prepare for the day.

Besides, I personally believe always arriving late is very rude and inconsiderate of others. It is like saying. “My time and the things I am doing or have to do is more important than meeting you – you can just wait for me. It is ok for you to give up your time waiting for me because your time is not as valuable as mine.” You would never dream of saying that to someone but that is really what you are communicating.

Back off

When you have one of those days where everything goes wrong then stop, back off and change course. Call a friend who makes you laugh, spend 30 minutes (even if you don’t think you have 30 minutes) to watch a funny show, take 30 minutes out and work on your favorite hobby or, in the case of a pressing work deadline, stop for 15 minutes and clear your mind. Do anything that completely changes your course from what you were doing. I curl up with a cup of tea and read a relaxing fun book, not one on self improvement, how to earn more money or how to raise better kids. Those are not relaxing.

I know sometimes when you’re at work or with a baby and other times like this, it may be a little hard to do but do it when you can. If nothing else, take a deep breathe and count to ten.

 

The Economy

There isn’t much we can do for the economy as a whole but you can learn to take control of your own finances and learn to be wise concerning them. We often look at the bad state of our finances and then we look at the economies of our country and the world, which are also bad, and become so overwhelmed that we just give up. It’s important to take one day at a time. If I looked at what I had to do next month and also focused on what my kids and my extended family all had to get done, I would collapse but by focusing on my own personal day I can handle it.

We need to do that with finances. Stop listening to the news and worrying about what is happening in the world. I’m not saying to bury your head in the sand or that those things don’t affect us. I’m saying that so often we get intently focused on the wrong things and that focus causes us to become paralyzed with fear. Then we can’t function in our own worlds, causing our finances to falter so we say “See, things really are as bad as they say.” Sometimes our reality is that we just aren’t dealing with things in our own life.

Don’t stress over the economy. Stop watching the news and listening to the radio or whining friends. Even when the economy is bad, there’s not much you personally can do to change it so don’t waste precious energy worrying. Take the time you would usually spend worrying and work out a plan to get your own finances under control.

 

Work

Often there is a lot of stress at work. You can have a high stress job or you might just not like the job you are doing. Either can cause you a lot of stress. You have a few choices. First, you can change jobs. I know everyone says that in this economy there are no jobs but there really are many jobs still out there. You may have to take a pay cut, change hours, change the distance you drive, get out of your comfort zone or something else which you alone have to weigh against the existing stress for your own personal life.

Look for options and don’t be afraid to step out and try them. Of course I’m not saying to march in and tell your boss to take his job and stuff it until you have weighed all the pros and cons and have checked into and actually gotten another job. You do need to use common sense. On the other hand, I know that some people can get so stuck in a rut or controlled by fear that they don’t look for something different or explore their other options.

If for whatever reason you can’t leave a stressful job, then you need to at least learn to leave your work at the office and don’t bring it home. I am talking about the problems and stresses of work and not the physical work itself ,which you need to leave there too.

This is why I think it is sometimes easier for men to be in the work force than women. Men are somewhat better at compartmentalizing than women. I know there are exceptions, but in most cases, this is true.

One last thing you can do to relieve stress at work is to avoid taking it all personally. Do your very best job and a little extra at work. Then when you boss rants and raves or is unfair, at least you know that between you and God you have done your best and you can let God deal with the injustice.

 

Bottom Line

For me, personally, I know that God is in control of every minute of my day. All of it. And I know He loves me even more than I love myself and my family so when something knocks me between the eyes I just stop and pray, “Take this over and do what is best or show me the wisdom on what you want me to do.”

Stress can kill you. That is why the Bible tells us over and over, “Fear not”, “do not be afraid” or leave things in God’s hands– because God knows it can kill us. We spend hours stewing over every bite of food we put in our mouths and stressing over whether it is healthy, organic or the right thing to eat because if we don’t eat right we will get sick and/or die… yet the stress of worrying can kill us just as easily if not more so and we hardly give it a second thought.

Stress is a silent killer because our eyes are so blinded to it. It is so much easier to obsess about our physical bodies and needs without realizing it could be the emotional and spiritual needs that are being overlooked and that are truly killing us.

Jill

 

Photo By: Eamon Curry

Comments

  1. kristi says

    I find that keeping a “gratitude journal” helps me stay focused on all the awesome blessings rather than the things that are driving me crazy. God is SO MUCH BIGGER than all the “stuff” going on around us! I take a few minutes at night (or in the morning, or whenever I’m feeling particularly cranky about something) and write down at least three or five things I am thankful for. Suddenly all the junk clogging up my attitude clears and I can once again see God and all his glory, kindness, mercy and love.

  2. Rebecca says

    I like to walk around a lake near my house so I tell myself I’ll walk three times around: the first time I am free to worry and fret and pray about what’s stressing me; the second time I put that aside and simply enjoy the nature that is around me; the third time I try to praise God for his bounty, his love and just because. It doesn’t always work perfectly but it helps me control the worry worry worry knowing there’s an end to it.

  3. Jaime says

    I love getting your emails! Such down to earth advice that I think many of us forget about because we get so caught up in being overwhelmed with other things. That’s how it is for me sometimes at least! Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Bea says

    Jill, You’re peaceful way of writing and common sense always do me a world of good. Thanks for letting God use you.

  5. Theresa says

    Two major things stress me – the disorganization of my home and worry about my children.
    I am slowly but surely working on the clutter and organization issues in my home. I come home from teaching high school and just colaspe so summer is my “work in my house” time. Too much stuff is really my problem as well as I am so sentimental I hate to throw away “memories”. The One Room at a Time method is working for me (I honestly think I am housekeeing ADD!)and the more I get done, the more motivated I become.
    I worry about my children – a mother is only as happy as her most unhappy child. In this department I try to just surrender it to God and pray that He will direct them in the right path. VERY hard to do.
    Making time to pray in addition to the many little prayers that come throughout the day has been my biggest stress reliever and gives me the sense that I am doing what I can to help.

  6. Pat says

    Another great and timely post! My Mother had a saying ( now my saying ) “Let go, Let God”. That was what she believed and did, must have worked as He didn’t call her home till she was just short of 98!
    I also agree with the bills and doing what you can. Also it sure helps if you and your spouse work together and are both committed to the same ideals.

  7. Ger says

    Thank you for another insightful post full of common sense and practical advice. I have been limiting myself to one news bulletin a day for the past few months and so far I have missed nothing of any importance. Rolling news can be a source of additional stress when we already have challenges of our own to deal with.

    • says

      It’s funny you say that Ger. I stopped watching the news over 40 years ago when my husband was in the service overseas and they kept showing so much on the Vietnam war, riots and everything else awful that was happening. It was making me a basket case. I haven’t missed it one bit. I don’t panic over what is happening or could be happening in the world any more and the funny thing is I still seem to know what is going on without watching the news.I too don’t feel like I have missed anything of importance.

  8. Chris says

    I currently have a serious health challenge. I’m trying to remember that God is in control. “Take this over and do what is best or show me the wisdom on what you want me to do.” Is a great prayer. Thank you.

  9. Kate says

    Thank you for this excellent posting. Your “less is best” bit reminds me of some favorite books of mine by Richard Swenson, a former doctor who is a Christian: Margin, The Overload Syndrome and In Search of Balance. Since reading these books, I have been working on whittling my wardrobe down to a “uniform” — on work days, I wear black pants, black trouser socks, black shoes and a top. On days off, I usually wear jeans. I’m also trying to create a rotating menu and otherwise make decisions that will enable me to make fewer choices so I can free my life from the trivial so that I can concentrate on the important.

    I like your tip about arriving early. I’ll have to work toward that. Thanks again!

  10. Ruth Johnson says

    Putting my husband in a nursing home where he should have been
    15 years ago but wouldn’t.

    There is an interesting article in todays (10th) Calgary Sun
    about the stress in relation to care giving. It’s right on.

    Ruth Johnson

  11. Marian says

    Yes, I agree with you…we have to keep reminding ourselves…any time, & when things become out of hand…I talk to our Heavenly Father & say, ‘This is much too big for me to handle, I’m dumping this on your lap, please handle my load (burden), I am yoked up with YOU, why am I trying to do this by myself??!’ (& study to show yourself approved!) ..I wish I did it always!

  12. Peta Emes says

    Music soothes the soul ! It goes way back to the time of David and before. Well chosen music may change ones mood and emotions in a short space of time and shift to a different pace. If it’s not convenient to play a CD or MP3 think of a hymn and sing a verse in your head slowly and well.
    I’ll need to make a conscious effort to make a habit of being early. Thanks

  13. Peta Emes says

    An insurmountable problem can be broken down into steps and stages and worked through progressively one at a time.
    Think of how school was organised. A child does one year then progresses to the next and the next and soon the kindergarten child is graduating.
    Each subject is broken down into steps with one lesson one week and the next the next week, until the end of the year.
    Life is not a push button instant process.
    It takes time, deliberate thought, prayer, creativity and community.

  14. says

    Those 15 minutes early tip is t! You should write a whole article about how leaving early will save you money. You won’t forget your coupons/library books/grocery list when you aren’t running out the door at break neck speed, all while shouting at the kids, “We’re going to be late!” Plus you won’t be buying the kids treats out of guilt for all that screaming. :-)

    Thanks for reminding us that our stress reaction is often a choice on our part. We just moved into a new house and I’ve been worrying about money and getting all the projects done. This article reminded me that I need to just calm down and take one step at a time, and everything will be okay, with God’s help.

    Love your website and I always read your email articles. You guys are super! God bless you in all you do.

    • says

      When I started writing this article it was going to be only on arriving 15 mins. early but then I got carried away (Tawra says I am too long winded) : ) so had to divide it up and so now I have an article half done on arriving late. I didn’t know if anyone would be interested but guess maybe I should finish it.

  15. Peta Emes says

    I find it helps to think through the people things I plan to do the next day before going to bed and to logically think of each detailed thing i’ll need.
    If it’s a complex or unusual day I find the things i’ll need and add them to my usual things near the front door.
    Also i get out clothes and put them together, avoiding the unexpected complications.
    This works for me as i have a clearer head in the evenings and i often think of something extra overnight.
    I still seem to be slow in the mornings and don’t like a coffee or tea hit. The theory and practise of being early haven’t come together for me yet.

    • says

      Peta don’t feel bad. Sounds like you are more of an evening person then morning and are wise to get as much done in the evening as you can. I am a morning person and could get up early, wide awake and hit the ground running. My husband on the other hand was an evening person and even though he got up early he was much slower but in the evening when I was totally dead and couldn’t function he was getting a second wind. Neither is right or wrong we just need to do like you mentioned and know how we function and work out a plan for us.

  16. Cindy, in NC says

    I have found the best way for me to deal with stress is to take life one day at a time and remember that yesterday is over and tomorrow hasn’t come yet. I try to remember that God’s name is “I Am”, not I will be or I was. Also, when the devil is using stress to “gnaw” his way into my life, I find a quiet moment, usually for me right before my bedtime, when the house is silent and everyone else is asleep and I take out my Bible and read and talk to God. Believe me folks, it took me many years to understand how dangerous and unproductive stress really is. We, as humans, tend to forget to “consider the lillie”, as our Lord told us to. I love your website and read the e-mails alot. I love that it is a Christian centered website and the tips and advice you give are so common sense. I have saved tons of money using your ideas and as a Christian, it is important that all areas of our life are as “clutter free” as possible, that way we can focus on God, family, home and work, the way it was intended to be.

    • Katie says

      That’s what I try to remember, Cindy–to take things one day at a time and to give what I cannot handle to God.

      The tough part? Dealing with the family, as some of THEM can be chronically negative.

  17. Peta Emes says

    Thanks Jill, i’m finding your website and articles very interesting and practical, cutting through negative patterns of current culture. It is similar here in australia though less church going.
    I slept on things overnight aussie time and came to the same conclusion that i’m an evening person. However that doesn’t explain why I leave getting to appointments during the day till the last minute, squeezing in as much as possible before on busy days, or doing the things before slowly on quieter days.
    I’ll be interested to see what you may come up with in your article on being early. It must be a cultural thing as it’s so prevalent.

  18. Sharon Hughes says

    I am a very “emotion” driven person. I can take a negative and just run with it all day, week, or month long. I lost my son 3 1/2 years ago, and one thing that has come out of that horror is that I MUST take it one day at a time. It doesn’t matter if it is about the house note past due, no groceries in the house, lights about to be shut off…one day at a time works for me EVERY TIME. I know it is God, and He alone, that works it out, but it has surely been a tremendous blessing out of a horrific event. He is well able to take care of ALL things….and doesn’t He tell us in His Word not to worry? I am so grateful that this is one lesson truly learned within my heart and soul. And, yes, I sometimes stop what I am doing and remind myself that I am worrying about sometime in the future…it is a futile error which I am glad to give up…thank God for His mercy and patience with us! {:0)

  19. Maggie says

    Jill, I am reading this about a month after everyone else but just wanted to tell you that I am working toward the 15 min early. Every Saturday morning, I pick up my friend and we go to the farmers’ market together. Most mornings I am rushing up to her door at 7:55 even though we decide to leave at 7:45 each day. This Saturday, I wanted to be on time so left my house at 7:30 and was there by 7:42. She is usually standing in her yard waiting. No friend – 7:45 am, 7:50 no friend, finally, at 7:55 I went to the door thinking that something was the matter because she is always early. She said she knew I’d be late so she was doing other things while she waited for me and lost track of time. What a reputation – I am always late. So, I’m going to continue to try to arrive 15 min early and see how many more people I can surprise. I feel like I must have always been the mom who told her kids, Hurry, hurry, hurry, we are going to be late. One of my kids is always early, the other is always late. I’ll have to work on the late one.

    • says

      Way to go Maggie. Too funny too. We had a sister in law we would tell the time we would meet 30 mins. before everyone else thinking she would get there on time and she was still late. Too funny.

  20. maggie says

    Thought you’d appreciate this. I left for work today 15 min later than I should but told myself when I arrived at 9:15 that I was earlier than my usual 30 min late. Got to get that 15 min working in the right direction.:)

    • says

      Oh Maggie too funny. You will get this time thing down yet and you deserve extra brownie points for working at this so hard.:) Oh by the way this is Jill even though it is Tawra’s picture. I’m visiting with them this week in CO.

  21. Rachel H says

    My stress-reliever is going to the movies. When I sit down in a cool, dark theater with some popcorn and coke and my phone turned off I begin to relax. Those two or so hours are just so peaceful to me. Unfortunately there are not very many good movies coming out, and it far too expensive to go very much. I can watch movies at home on Netflix, but it’s just not the same, I am constantly getting up to do something, answer the phone, take clothes out of the dryer, you know what I mean. Wish there were more good movies coming out these days. We have a $1 theater where they show movies several weeks after they come out, but most I would not even pay $1 to see.

  22. Marsgram says

    I really enjoyed this article! I have been working on being on time the last couple of weeks (exactly right on time!), which is much better than me always being late. Working my way up to being early…which is difficult for me since I have never been a morning person. I have always wondered how some people can be so full of energy as soon as they wake up!!!
    I am also easily stressed and overwhelmed, so I appreciate the reminders of taking things one day at a time and handing worries over to God. (Yes, at the moment I am one of those who worries over the economy, lol! It’s never worried me before but it does now due to what I do for a living.). I am raising my 7 year old grandson alone and want to be prepared…. So now I’ve been stocking up on things, which is costing me more money….when I should be saving more. So I will take the “stop watching the news” advice immediately!!!!! I also need to just get started on organizing things better. Boy, that makes me sound like a mess, lol!
    One day at a time and let go and let God… the 2 mottos I am going to try living by from now on.

    Thanks to everyone here I am hoping to get rid of the stress!

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