Blog posts that provide encouragement for marriage and family success.

6 Ways to Combat Stress

Between family, finances, and food, we are besieged by demands on our resources.

There are lots of places we can get help, though.

My mother-in-law and I both love to watch Hallmark movies all year, especially during the holidays (or upcoming Christmas in July!). There's something about wholesome movies of joy that make our stress ooze away for a bit.

We all know that eating and exercising are excellent for stress relief. I have three dogs - two of them need daily walks. Even when I don't feel like going, I'm always glad I did. A half-hour outside away from all those stress pulls, really helps. I'm also a baked goods girl, so I try to offset that with healthy choices during my day. That's what works for me. Everyone has their own strategies. If you need some ideas, my sister and friend is a Beachbody coach and would be happy to work with you on health goals to relieve stress.

Since college, I have loved coloring as a stress reliever. There's something calming about just focusing on the small spaces and bringing beauty to a lifeless image. This is the coloring book I'm asked for last Christmas. It might be something you could enjoy, too.

We are given guidance in Scripture that relates to stress as well. For instance:

Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and request, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God; and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Psalm 55:22 NKJV Cast your burdens on the Lord and He shall sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Matthew 11:28-30 NLT (Jesus speaking) Come to Me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

From a communication standpoint, let's look at some practical tips:

1. First, we talked on Monday about remembering what we love about the person. Whether we are the one being stressed or on the receiving end of someone's stress, love needs to come first. If we can focus on the love then we can often overlook, or at least forgive, the stress-inspired communication.

2. Take a deep breath. Again, no matter what side of the stressful event you are on, a deep breath will allow you a moment to focus on what's important. The moment will also allow you to identify what you are really feeling at the moment. That leads to the next point.

3. When you're stressed: try to communicate clearly. I can't tell you how many times I've had to say, "I'm not yelling at you. I'm frustrated with the situation and not dealing with it well." Or something like, "I'm upset about all that needs to be done. I know it's not essential, but it's important to me." When you clearly identify what you're feeling or thinking, you can help the other person to be on the same page with you instead of wondering what he/she did wrong.

4. Clearly state your expectations. What do you want from the other person? Do you want advice? Ask. Do you want a listening ear? Tell him/her. Again, though, this requires you to be in touch with what you'd like before you can ask.

5. On the receiving end, one of the best gifts you can give when someone is stressed is to listen. Ask questions. Make "listening sounds." Understand that not every situation needs a response. Sometimes our loved ones just need to sound off a bit. If you think it's about you, then ask. Listening can reduce stress in most situations. Remember that when we listen well we set aside our own agenda. So just take a breath and listen to understand.

6. Pray. No matter what side of the stress you are on, God's got this. He will guide our days and our words if we let Him. This is part of the "pray without ceasing" that Paul talks about in 1Thessalonians 5:16. We pray about our list, our finances, and our family. We pray that we can really understand the heart of our loved ones. We pray that we can set aside our own stress to listen through someone else's. We pray God will give us the strength to do what He wants us to do, even if that means some things fall off of our own list.

I hope this helps. Give one of these a practice this weekend and let me know how it goes!