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5 Time-tested Stress Remedies

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5 Time-tested Stress Remedies

A majority of Americans say they are more stressed out than ever. But there is hope…

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An epidemic of high stress is impacting all generations of Americans, from boomers to Gen Z. In a recent survey conducted by Clever Real Estate, 61 percent of Americans said their stress levels are higher than ever. Fifty-five percent report that their level of stress prevents them from enjoying life.

The impact of stress on the human body is well-documented. It can cause or exacerbate chronic conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. It can create the perfect storm for stroke and heart attack. It can also cause digestive issues and weaken the immune system, as well as contribute to insomnia, obesity and mental health issues.

Unfortunately, battling stress is rarely a one-time thing. The struggle will continue until the root of the issue is adequately addressed and managed. Left unchecked, it slowly creeps into every part of an individual’s life, from jobs to relationships, and even self-worth and confidence.

While each age group stresses over different things, the data shows that we need to learn how to handle our anxiety before it has disastrous or even deadly results.

But there is hope. If you are stressed out, here are five time-tested and practical things you can start doing today to turn the tide in your battle with stress. All five are backed by a reliable authority: God’s Word.

Understanding the Problem

In addition to the 55 percent of U.S. adults who said they cannot enjoy life due to stress or its symptoms, 48 percent of those surveyed reported that they cry at least once a week. Sadly, 30 percent of the respondents say they are not doing anything to help or improve their mental health or reduce tension.

Stress is also widely recognized as harming relationships, with 59 percent of Americans citing it as a major cause of difficulty in marriage, romantic relationships, other familial associations and friendships. The tension has the potential to be particularly damaging to families. Parents may take out their frustrations on their children, spouse or both as stress increases.

Coping methods add to the problem. More than 40 percent of adults say they overeat to deal with stress, and 39 percent turn to alcohol to find relief.

More than three-quarters of the survey respondents felt that if more people prioritized mental health, the world would be a better place, and 52 percent would gladly pay higher taxes to see improved mental health services supported by the government.

The current decade has been formidable for all generations: 45 percent of U.S. adults cite it as the most stressful decade in sixty years. Millennials and Gen Z are getting hit hardest. Right now, stress is the highest it has ever been for 65 percent of millennials and 64 percent of Gen Z. The majority of Gen Z (61 percent) rate their stress level as “unreasonable” and feel that they experience more stress than the average person. Both millennials (55 percent) and Gen Z (55 percent) report difficulty functioning due to stress. Only 30 percent of baby boomers feel this way.

Examining Stressors

Housing prices are a significant concern for millennials, with 64 percent citing it as a primary stressor. On the flip side, 34 percent of American homeowners believe they would not be as stressed if they did not own a home.

While 2 in 3 Americans say that social media is a significant stressor and is bad for society, at least they can remedy this by logging off or putting down the phone. Other catalysts for stress are more challenging to manage.

Low salaries (57 percent) and poor work-life balance (46 percent) are two significant stressors that are more difficult to fix. Employees are often overworked with assigned tasks and longer than regular shifts, with poor benefits and inadequate paid time off. The stress from these factors leads to burnout and low employee morale, which impacts the economy by creating increased unemployment due to the high turnover rate.

Combining low pay with an increasing cost of living translates to most Americans feeling like they cannot get their heads above water. Prices are rising, but salaries are not keeping pace.

These are just some of the underlying factors for Americans’ stress. Living conditions in the United States are not likely to improve dramatically in the short term. Therefore, if you feel like you are in crisis due to stress, take action.

(1) Meditate

When you feel stressed, simply slowing down and taking time to meditate can work wonders. Meditation is simple and anyone can do it. According to Merriam-Webster, the word meditate simply means “to engage in contemplation or reflection.”

The concept of mindfulness meditation has gained popularity only recently. You could be surprised to know that the practice originated in Scripture, endorsed by some of God’s greatest servants. Genesis 24:63 records that “Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide”—apparently this was a habit for him.

King David led a stressful life. He led Israel, fought wars, dealt with family betrayal and tragedy, and much more. This drove him to deep contemplation. David shows us what meditation looks like in the Psalms.

He wrote: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!...When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (8:1-6).

David took time to “consider” God’s handiwork and get his mind off of his problems. Focusing on something greater than himself helped him get through his life challenges.

Start small. Even devoting a precious few minutes of your free time can have a benefit. Put down your smartphone, get away from distractions and just be present with your thoughts. Over time, you can try to work up to longer sessions. It can also be helpful to keep a journal and write down some takeaways from what you are thinking about.

Modern research supports this. According to the American Psychological Association, “People have been meditating for thousands of years, often as part of a spiritual practice. But in more recent years, mindfulness has become a popular way to help people manage their stress and improve their overall well-being—and a wealth of research shows it’s effective.”

“Researchers reviewed more than 200 studies of mindfulness among healthy people and found mindfulness-based therapy was especially effective for reducing stress, anxiety and depression.”

(2) Exercise

Exercise is not just for losing weight or getting six-pack abs. Studies show it impacts the mind as well. The John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation compiled an extensive report encompassing over 30 years of published research on how exercise affects mental health. They wrote, “Three decades of science make it clear: exercise should be integrated into prevention and treatment of mental illness and promotion of mental wellness…89% of all published peer-reviewed research between 1990 and 2022 found a positive, statistically significant relationship between exercise/physical activity and mental health.”

Exercise’s benefits are also found in the pages of Scripture: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (I Tim. 4:8, New International Version). Although it pales in comparison to godliness—good character—exercise does provide “some value.” Do not underestimate what it can do for you.

During stressful times, getting up and moving is a great idea. This could involve something simple like a walk around the block or lifting some free weights for a few minutes. Or you could try something a little more involved like a group exercise class, a longer hike in the woods or learning a new sport.

To learn much more about the benefits of exercise, read our free booklet God’s Principles of Healthful Living.

(3) Talk to Friends and Family

Resist the temptation to isolate yourself when you are stressed. Your support group, made up of family and friends, is a valuable resource. Just spending time with other people and not letting your troubles keep you down is beneficial.

Proverbs 27:17 illustrates this: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (New Living Translation). Being around people we respect encourages us to improve. Seeing the example of someone who is successfully managing their stress, or sharing concerns with a person who is dealing with similar issues can help you sharpen your approach to life.

You can also open up to them about some of the things that are stressing you out and ask for advice. Friends and family may be able to bring a perspective on what you are dealing with that you are not seeing. Proverbs 19:20 adds, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter end.”

An article in Time magazine discussed takeaways on friendship from the ongoing Harvard Study of Adult Development. It stated, “Since 1938, researchers have been following 724 men, tracking their physical health as well as social habits. Robert Waldinger, the study’s current director, said in his recent TED Talk, ‘The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.’ Socially disconnected people are, according to Waldinger, ‘less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely.’”

Chances are, most people reading this article will be able to think of at least a few people you could reach out to. You may already be keeping in touch with certain people on a regular basis, but if you are not, take a moment to send that text or that direct message on Instagram that could rekindle your connection.

What if you do not have any friends? Try making some. Go to events in your local community, such as volunteering opportunities, chess clubs or book clubs at a library. Engage your neighbors in small talk. Offer to help them with something in their yard to break the ice. There are plenty of ways to increase your level of social interaction.

Depending on your level of stress and its physical manifestations, you may also want to consult a medical professional for additional guidance.

(4) Examine Your Coping Methods

Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in unhealthy, even destructive ways. Experts recommend avoiding substances like alcohol, drugs and smoking to relieve stress.

Be honest with yourself. Evaluate whether your responses are good or bad for you. If you turn to negative substances or behaviors, you are worsening the problem.

God’s Word shows that self-examination is a vital habit to build (I Cor. 11:28; II Cor. 13:5). It also provides a simple solution to wrong coping methods: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psa. 34:14). If your coping methods are “evil”—bad for you—stop them. Find something productive to do with your time instead.

If you catch yourself binge-watching several unfulfilling hours of Netflix or emptying a six-pack of Bud Light when you feel down, replace them with other hobbies that are better for you. Listen to some classical music. Read a book that makes you think. Try your hand at a new hobby like painting or bike riding. Do things that stimulate your mind and leave you feeling fulfilled.

You can also seize the opportunity to review your life goals. If you are stressed about the economy or your job, try to channel that energy toward taking tangible steps to improve your financial situation. Pursue training on a new skill, update your resume for a new job or revisit your budget to cut back on spending. Our free booklet Taking Charge of Your Finances is a helpful resource for managing personal finances.

(5) Time in Nature

Wise King Solomon wrote, “Truly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun” (Ecc. 11:7, New King James Version). Obviously, he was not advocating for us to stare directly at the sun. This is scriptural backing for getting outside.

Modern science also supports this habit. An article in Yale Environment 360 stated, “In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces—local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits—were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t.”

A Mayo Clinic article stated, “…nature may be able to combat stress and its effects. For example, one study showed that exposure to nature can regulate the sympathetic nervous system in as little as five minutes.

“‘This means that we can get an almost immediate benefit from stepping outside,’ says [Mayo Clinic nurse practitioner Jodie M. Smith]. And doing so on a recurrent basis may prevent cumulative effects from stress, which could mean a lower risk for chronic disease, illness and mortality.”

If you feel stressed, head outdoors and put this tip to the test.

Win Your Stress Battle

We have examined five time-tested natural remedies for defeating stress, proven by science and the Bible. Take action and apply them. God is willing to help you win your battle with stress. The verses we looked at, and Christianity in general, produce a life of peace and abundance.

In Matthew 11, Jesus Christ said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (11:29-30). In John 10:10, He added, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Although many Americans are reeling from the high stress epidemic, this does not have to be you. You can face and defeat your stressors and live the abundant life God promises.

This article contains information from The Associated Press.

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