A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 4: Stress Management and Sleep 81 essence, relational wisdom is the desire and ability to live out the two Great Commandments outlined by Jesus. Specifically, to loveGodwithall your heart, soul andmind and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew22:3739). Effective Ways to Manage Stress Research shows that some individuals are able to deal with and manage their stress better than others. Individuals who are able to manage their stress well are less likely to develop stress-related emotional and physiological disorders. Some of the characteristics of individuals with successful stress management include those who view situations and events optimistically, exercise on a regular basis, eat well and receive adequate rest, and have a strong faith. Furthermore, these individuals tend to have an emotional support system in place by forming strong friendships and maintaining ties with family (Johnson & Morris, 2012). Provided below are 10 effective ways for managing stress (Swenson, 1992; Thygerson & Thygerson, 2016; Walters & Byl, 2013): 1. Regular exercise. Participating in regular exercise, even low-intensity exercise, has been shown to substantially reduce stress and anxiety levels. 2. Proper nutrition. Eating a well-balanced diet can help to reduce the risks associated with chronic stress and physiological disorders associated with poor nutrition. 3. Adequate sleep. Tired individuals do not manage stress well. Adequate sleep helps to improve resiliency and reduce stress. 4. Prayer / Meditation on Scripture. Praying regularly helps to lower agitation and loneliness as well as improving morale and the ability to cope. In addition to prayer, meditating on Scripture can help to put temporary circumstances into an eternal perspective. Some pertinent passages to consider include Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 8:18, 26-39; Philippians 4:4-9; and James 1:2-7. 5. Sense of humor. Laughter releases muscle tension, promotes deep breathing and triggers a relaxation response. Research suggests it may be physiologically impossible to be both stressed and laughing at the same time. 6. Support system. Individuals with a positive support system fare better when faced with stressful situations. Conversely, negative relationships can be more harmful than helpful.