How to Manage Stress

With all the impending changes on the horizon (baby, moving, etc), my brain has been on overdrive. It's hard for me to shut it down and decompress knowing that life will be so different in just a few months.

I'm incredibly easy going and don't find myself stressed too often but life happens. Situations and circumstances are out of my control and it can be difficult to just roll with the punches. But I've found a few tactics that are helpful when I notice I'm struggling to turn my brain off or things seem unmanageable.

Pray. Prayer is like comfort food. Not because questions are answered, problems are solved, and things are copacetic again but because He's understanding and listening and there's comfort in knowing you have a constant friend and ear. Sometimes it helps to pray out loud--to put a voice to your thoughts and to iterate how you're feeling. He understands. He hears you. He's there for you. He loves you.

Start small and make a plan. If you find your to-do list growing and stress is mounting, pick one thing you know you can do and start there. It doesn't have to be big but for me, it helps knowing that one item is getting done and I can cross it off my list.

The other day I felt the anxiety rising as I realized how much we still needed to do and buy for baby. I talked to Thomas about it and we took an hour or two one evening, researched and price checked everything we wanted to get and created a budget and time frame. Knowing there was a game plan almost immediately removed the stress.

Stress often arises because things feel out of control and disorganized. Making a plan provides resolution and even if it's not accomplished, knowing how and when it will be makes a huge difference.

Check out. Sometimes you just need to turn your brain off. My mom needs a good book to read in order to destress. She needs that time in the evening, even if it's just an hour, to get lost in the pages. I need a little TV time. Lately Thomas and I have been hooked on Criminal Minds and we'll watch a couple episodes together in the evening after Liam is in bed. Find whatever is it for you and if even for 20-30 minutes, switching your brain to something mindless can make you feel more relaxed.

Get some exercise. When we start a workout, our bodies think we are fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect the brain from stress, we release BDNF which acts as a reparative element and reset switch. This is often why we feel clarity and so at ease after exercise. At the same time we release endorphins in the brain which tend to minimize discomfort and block the feeling of pain. Exercise, my friends. It's science.

Get creative. Often times, a creative project will help me forget about the mile long list of stressors. Even if you're not super creative, often just doing something with your hands helps. Maybe it's browsing Pinterest for inspiration or my next DIY project, doing a craft with Liam, redecorating the living room, or window shopping, doing something creative almost has the same effect on me as exercise. It's fulfilling and creates a feeling of accomplishment and I often come away feeling refreshed.

Hope these ideas help! Life can be chaotic and out of control but knowing Christ sees the big picture and is ever-present provides so much comfort.

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