Help! I'm Stressed!
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
This morning as I started my day I began to feel my shoulders tense, my mind began to race and I thought, "This is not the way I want to begin." I went to a chair, put on my headphones and entered into a time of guided meditation.
Chronic stress is a condition for many people. Stressors in our lives from our jobs to family to keeping up with the rapidly changing society just do not seem to abate. This means that cortisol levels in our bodies stay elevated, which impacts our physical and mental health. Anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain as well as memory and concentration issues can be signs of chronic stress in your life.
Stress-reducing strategies include deep breathing or meditation, getting a hobby, reading a book or listening to music, eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting enough sleep. Matthew and I have both dealt with chronic stress in our lives, which led to us moving to the country and starting New Morning Retreat Center. We needed to get out of the congestion of the city where battling traffic, being bombarded with noise and breathing in polluted air added to our already stressful jobs and family circumstances.
When people come to New Morning Retreat Center, one of the first things they do is get out of their car and just take a deep breath. They begin to take in the surroundings and we observe a smile begin to form. Over the next several hours, individuals begin to let down; you can literally see it happen. People begin to relax, leaving the stress behind. The peace and quiet, the beautiful surroundings, and the opportunity simply “to be” allows our guests to renew their bodies, minds and spirits.
Although daily practices like meditation, prayer and yoga can help us reduce stress, taking time apart from our regular routine is important. Getting out of our regular work space, setting aside our “to-do” list, silencing our phone, not checking email or social media constantly, eliminating the potential interruptions and just going “off the grid” for a day or so helps us decompress.
Years ago during a particularly stressful season of life I took a monthly Sabbath day at a nearby retreat center. It was in the city, but was amazingly quiet. I had a room to myself, I ate lunch in silence and met with a spiritual director. Almost every time I went, I took a nap. I was so exhausted from the stress in my life that was what I needed. If I were at home I would not have given myself permission to rest.
God has given us the gift of Sabbath. There is no need to feel guilty about taking time apart for rest and renewal because Sabbath is one of God’s commands. In fact, it is necessary for a healthy and full life. Take time apart to reduce the stress in your life. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you!