A note from Kelly King: We may not be able to eliminate stress, but we can learn how to manage stress. If you don’t, your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being will be affected negatively. As you minister to women, consider these seven strategies from Kaye Hurta that will help you overcome anxiety.
Seasons of pain and hurting open the door to uninvited guests. As if the painful circumstance wasn’t enough, the uninvited guest that accompanies our pain is stress.
Helpful stress is realized whenever there is a threat to the body or the ego. A stress response is good in small amounts. In fact, it is necessary for survival. If you are being chased by a lion, you want your adrenal glands to release adrenalin and cortisol. However, a constant flood of these hormones, or chronic stress, wreaks havoc on our brains and bodies.
Chronic stress, whether real or imagined, is an epidemic in our society. It makes us sick, raises our blood pressure and heart rate, damages our immune system, causes weight gain, triggers autoimmune diseases, and more. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, Director of Functional Medicine at The Cleveland Clinic, 95% of all illness is caused or worsened by stress.1
As you minister to hurting women and listen to their stories, listen for clues of prolonged seasons of stress. Watch for it in your own life as well. As a caregiver, make sure you are making space to decompress and off-load the stress you carry day to day.
Here are 7 strategies to overcome stress:
1. Prayer, Scripture reading, and meditation. Many studies are pretty clear that meditation is an effective stress reducer. For the Christ follower, the best way to do this is with Scripture, and I would add specifically praying Scripture. Trade your anxiety for peace by casting all your cares on the Lord!
2. Breathing exercises. Being aware of our breathing grounds us in the moment and slows down our heart rates. Try it now. Close your eyes, breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, hold for just a second and let it out slowly through your mouth. Nice, right?
3. Exercise. No smart watch is needed; just lace up the shoes and hit the road for a walk.
4. Positive mind-set. Romans 12:2a says this, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NIV). What you think about matters. The story you are telling yourself about yourself or your situation impacts your emotions and behaviors. Are your thoughts or beliefs toxic? Are they lies or are they truth? Focus on what is true and positive. In fact, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).
5. Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, take a moment to reflect and jot down the moments you are grateful for.
6. Lean into community and support. Created in the image of a triune God, we find our home in relationships and community. Social isolation is debilitating and can make you sick.
7. Enjoy nature. Delight in God’s beautiful creation, breathe in fresh air, and take in the sights and sounds of whatever the season is offering.
I can attest to the fact that these seven strategies are indeed effective for reducing stress. In fact, I have practiced most of them myself even today! If you are in a season of stress, I am so sorry. It is exhausting. Please make a call to a trusted friend today and share what it is that is causing your stress. You’ll be glad you did.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.
1. Mark Hyman, “UltraWellness Lesson 7: The Mind/Body & Body/Mind Effect,” Dr. Hyman,