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Sharing Some Tips on to Cope and Deal with Stress (9.13.18)

Published 9/13/2018

The story is told of a woman who went to a local pet store and bought a parakeet, someone she could talk to during the day. The pet store owner assured her this bird could talk her ears off without a problem. After having the bird for a week, it never said one word. She went back to the store and asked what he thought the problem was with the bird. The owner said, “I forgot to have you buy a mirror, the bird will see his reflection, think it’s another bird and start talking right away. So she bought the mirror. Another week went by, still not a word. She went back to the store. This time he says, “you need to buy a ladder for him to climb, that will do it.” She buys the ladder. Another week goes by, not a word. She goes back, and this time he says you need a swing, than he will talk. She buys the swing, but says “This is the last straw, he better talk.” Another week goes by, not a word, but the bird dies. She goes back to the pet store, says “the bird is dead”. The owner says “did he ever say anything?” “Yes,” she says. The owner says, “What did he say?” He said, “Do they sell any food at that store, you bought me everything but food!” She was so worried about him talking, she never fed him. Sometimes we worry so much about the special, that we miss the ordinary.

Last month we wrote about the negative effects of stress. Thank you for those who shared your comments about last month’s article and said you were blessed by it. Now, I want to talk about how to get relief from stress. Since we cannot avoid all stress, we need to learn to live with it. We need to learn how much stress our individual bodies can take. We need to learn to manage our lives so that the bad effects from overstress do not permanently harm our bodies. Improving our health is the first coping strategy we can use.

It is an established fact that reasonable exercise relieves tension. Dr. Hans Selye, a leading expert on stress, found that under-exercised mice withstood stress far worse than those in peak physical condition. Building up stamina is a way to survive during periods of stress.

A few exercises in the morning are mentally stimulating. Exercise outdoors when you can get more fresh air and sunshine. More outdoor living will counteract the tension of modern city life.

Since stress burns up energy and causes fatigue, eat regular meals of nutritious food and get adequate rest. Sir Winston Churchill took naps during the day to reduce tension and refresh his body. The older I get the more I like to take those naps. Sometimes I take naps and did not know it, until after I woke up. Oh, I must have taken a nap.

Taking time out for relaxation is also important. I was told at a recent seminar that in the Bible in the New Testament, that Jesus took 48 breaks in his 3 years of ministry. An average of 15 breaks a year. It might only be for a few hours, or a day, but the scripture would say things like, “and from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man no it……” (Mark 7:24) When pressures mount up, our minds need a diversion—a change of pace or scenery. I think I need to catch up on some vacation time myself. We can take a break by listening to good music, but it must be melodic and harmonious to serve as a tonic for jangled nerves. Much of the loud and raucous noise labeled as music today can only increase tension!

The modern scene is vividly described by W. Phillip Keller in his book TAMING TENSION. “If we insist on filling our homes with mad music, if we turn up the volume until our heads throb, if we play discordant melodies with their provocative beat…we are bound to generate some terrible tensions. We need not be surprised if our surroundings become electric and charged with chaos, stress, and outright hostilities.”

Other forms of relaxation would include reading an inspiring book, or playing games with the family or friends. When a total change of environment is possible, take a trip to the park or an area of natural beauty where you can observe the creative handiwork of God. Whatever you enjoy doing and find relaxing can be an antidote to stress. The mind needs “quiet times” for a change of pace. Some use hobbies as a form of quiet diversion away from people and problems. Meditation and prayer in a private place are highly recommended in the Bible.

A person should also know his strengths and weaknesses and live within his means. Trying to be like someone else causes stress if your expectations are beyond your capability to achieve. Analyze your strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Don’t take on more than you can comfortably handle. Be willing to say no when your time and energy are already in full demand.

Earlham College, on the outskirts of Richmond, IN, is run by the Society of Friends (Quakers), who are famous for their sometimes silent worship services. At one time, however, some of the Earlham students held the exact opposite of the traditional Quaker silent meeting. Faced with examinations and attendant academic pressures they felt the need of a tension reliever. So, at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday evening, about 100 students met on mid-campus to hold their first “All-College Scream.” After screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs for about 15 minutes, most of the students said they felt good and agreed that the “All-College Scream” should be repeated!

Maybe we should find a good place to let out a loud scream for a few minutes, then maybe we can smile the rest of the day. I am going to look for a place right now!!