“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Who thinks about joy in the middle of chaos? There’s nothing more uncomfortable than watching your life unravel and shift from under your feet. It’s difficult to see the silver lining in the midst of life’s storms. However, God uses these trying times to speak to us, providing endurance and strength to increase our faith and develop character.
Have you ever wanted something so bad, until it hurt? You really wanted the relationship to work, but now that it’s over, you’re alone, abandoned and your time is consumed by wishing things were the way they used to be. Really? Stop daydreaming! It’s time to let go of past regrets and mistakes. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, the relationship was never meant to be?
We live in a topsy-turvy world of never-ending stress and frustrations. It’s an everyday event. No one will go through life without some type of anxiety. Ongoing chronic stress can cause a variety of problematic issues that can affect your overall well-being. People cope with stress in many ways….some healthy, some not so healthy.
Unhealthy Responses to Stress
Self-Indulgence: Excessively indulging in one’s own impulse, whim or unrestrained appetite. Enjoying extreme personal desires. Instead of dealing with our issues, we use alternative indulgence rewards to patch up our feelings of stress. Uncontrolled cravings.
Overeating: Eating disorder such as binge eating, bulimia, or anorexia. Indigestion. Overindulgence of food. Obesity and overweight. Excessive food consumption. Impulse eating episodes. Repeat refrigerator offender (this is when you constantly open the refrigerator and hold the door open looking for food). Seek professional guidance.
Aggressive Behavior: Taking anger and frustrations out on everyone with the intentions to hurt them physically or verbally. Out of control behavior. Since you can’t lash out at the people who caused you these frustrations, you vent and take your anger out on everyone else; impulsive or hostile reaction to stress. Continued anger and hostile behavior can lead to unhealthy coronary risk. Seek professional guidance.
Compulsive shopping: Repetitive shopping behaviors. Don’t get this confused with retail therapy. Retail therapy shopping elevates your mood and gives you that bump of special happiness, then it’s over. However, compulsive shoppers will go on an uncontrollable retail spending free frenzy and later feel shame and guilt about their shopping experience; out of control spending; buyer’s remorse. This type of euphoric shopping frenzy can lead to high debt and denied credit limitations. It’s a self-inflicting behavior that will leave you broke and unable to pay bills, which will definitely raise the bar on your stress levels.
(I was a compulsive buyer with several credit cards. It felt good shopping on impulse, however, my problems increased when I began to neglect my bills enough to where the collection agencies were calling me at work on my office phone. When the relationship dissolved, my income was cut in half and I became a habitual borrower, with a jacked-up credit score. It was truly a sad day when my credit cards were cut in half).
4 simple HEALTHY ways to turn your stress into strengths
Turn the compulsive shopping behavior into EXERCISE: Put up or cut up the credit cards and get moving with a healthier response to stress! Physical exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress levels. Get involved in aerobics or Zumba moves at least 30 minutes or more for three or more days a week, as it increases your heart rate. Focus on other things. Walking, jogging and riding a bike can also offer stress relief and reduce the risk for health-related problems. Start gradually. Always seek professional guidance before starting any exercise program.
Turn Overeating into DIET & NUTRITION: Eating healthy is essential if you want to live longer. Get on a food regimen plan like Paleo, Intermittent fasting, or a calorie counting menu plan. Chew your food slowly and take your time to enjoy the meal. De-stress! Rushing and eating fast could lead to overeating. Don’t procrastinate about changing your lifestyle because it leads to more stress. Minimize junk foods, salt, and foods made with white flour. Write down an eating plan menu for the week. Stick to it!
The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting
Turn Self-indulgence into MEDITATION & PRAYER: Develop techniques on how to meditate and relax. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep. According to research, increased meditation can regulate stress levels. Yoga participants have experienced decreased heart rate, improved mental health, lower levels of stress hormones, better sleep, and an overall well-being of physical health and outlook of life. Slow down and get to know yourself better.
Prayer is personal communication with God. When we open our hearts and minds to Him in daily prayer and meditation, he will provide encouragement, strength, and the power to take one day at a time. Remember that God is in charge of every event that has happened in your life. Your faith is being tested. Make sure to add prayer to your daily things “to-do-list”. Create a time for daily prayer devotionals. Prayer works!
Turn that aggressive behavior into TIME MANAGEMENT: Set aside a small amount of time to pull yourself together. Let go of the negativity. Plan and think about your next move. Set specific goals and put deadlines for them. Make a to-do-list and arrange them in order of importance. Learn how to say NO to things that are counterproductive to your plan. Learn how to say NO to the people who are not your boss. Prioritize! It doesn’t matter who you are, or whatever your situation is, (single, married, divorced, separated, rich or poor), everyone gets 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days in a year. No one can turn back the clock to recapture a missed minute, second or a day. Use your time wisely.
Be inspired to BREATHE!!! Find a support system. Surround yourself with dependable people, some good friends or social support. Making connection to someone who cares really about you and your situation makes a big difference. Get down to the nitty-gritty of your issues. Take a long look at yourself in the mirror and evaluate yourself. Do you approve of yourself? Develop a plan to eliminate or decrease stress. Take care of yourself! Stay in control of your emotional behavior.