Millennials hear it over and over again: We’re the most connected generation, the busiest generation. Some call us lazy, but if we’re slackers, why do we constantly feel stressed out?
So, is it possible to get rid of that stressed out feeling? What does it take? We talked to multiple professional Christian counselors, and they outlined ways we can untangle the factors that cause us to feel worried and overstimulated in our day-to-day lives. Here are seven of them:
Actively working toward reducing stress cuts down on the physical and mental damage from chronic stress. The definition of de-stress seems simple: “to relax your body or mind; to stop feeling the effects of stress.” Sounds easy, right?
Multiple counselors emphasized that the process of unloading the stressful factors in our lives is not an overnight solution. Similar to the process after becoming a Christian; changing habits and patterns takes effort and intentionality—even with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. When we seek to lose weight or get in shape, we must be intentional with changing our habits and making the effort to achieve our worthwhile goal.
Part of the intentionality and process of sorting through the roots of stress is deciphering which stresses are negative influences in our lives. After all, some stress is helpful—we all know someone who works best under a tight deadline.
“Like many of our internal experiences, stress is a reaction to our environment that has a function in our lives. Short-term, mild stress can function as a motivational tool that helps people accomplish goals or make changes in their environment (for example, changing how we communicate with a significant other),” says Christopher Cook, a counseling instructor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. “However, the chronic stress that many people experience as a result of a fast-paced lifestyle can have a negative effect on mental and physical health.”
Just as chronic stress can reveal itself through physical symptoms, taking care of ourselves can reduce anxiety. Although it’s tempting to attempt to solve our stressful situation by sleeping less, eating too little or too much or skipping the gym, that will actually make us feel worse.
“Taking care of our physical bodies has been proven to help with stress,” Davediuk Gingrich adds. “Getting enough sleep, eating properly and exercising can impact our body’s biochemical makeup, including decreasing stress hormones.”
Depending on individual personalities, setting boundaries might look different for each person. It’s difficult to say no and leave margin in our lives for life’s twists and turns, but it’s a key life skill to learn.
“You need to be self-aware enough to know when you are nearing your ‘distress’ limit and learn to say ‘no’ when necessary,” Davediuk Gingrich says. “In her research, Brene Brown has found that people sometimes say “yes” because they want to be nice, but it actually backfires. Setting boundaries allows us to be more loving than doing things for people motivated by what they will think of us.”
Most Christians believe that mental health is related to the health of our soul. Are we prioritizing our relationship with the Lord?
More importantly, it can also hinder our effectiveness for Kingdom work, Thacker adds.
“The Lord instructs us to cast our burdens on Him,” she says. “Sometimes this is a very active process of turning to him and also making wise decisions with the time He has given us to steward.”