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Self Care Part 15: Relaxation, Exercise, Connecting & Laughter

by Julia Bruce

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Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad.
–Proverbs 12:25

Relaxation is another way you can help manage stress in your life. Making sure you are balancing the business of life, family, work and ministry with time for fun and relaxation will help you have a better frame of mind to deal with the stressful moments of life. Any time we are overly tired, overworked, and just worn out, small stressors can seem like impossible stressors. So be sure to include in your daily routines enough time to get a full night’s sleep. Take small breaks in your day and do something fun or relaxing that will help refresh you and keep you going. Think about activities or hobbies that you enjoy, such as fishing or crochet, cooking or golf. Maybe it’s playing an instrument, walking on a beach, or looking up at the stars. Whatever it is, make time to include it in your schedule every day.

For most of us, when we feel stressed out, finding some quiet, relaxing moments alone makes sense. However, exercise and physical activity is also a great way to get rid of stress. As you exercise endorphins, which induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria, are released and helps distract you from what stresses you. You don’t need a gym membership and or be a trained athlete. You don’t even have to be a regular exerciser; however, all of us benefit from regular exercise that is at least a thirty minute session. If exercise is new to you, build up gradually. If you don’t have thirty minutes to devote to exercise, remember that even small activities can add up throughout your day. Simple activities such as parking farther away, taking the stairs at work, walking your dog, swimming, yoga, or dancing to your favorite praise music can get you up and moving. The first step is to simply get up and start moving. The second is to choose an activity you will enjoy. 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” So, for an added benefit, listen to positive Christian music or podcasts from your favorite Christian speakers while you are exercising. God often speaks through music and sermons to encourage us and help us refocus our mind so that our thoughts shift from our stressors to meditating and thinking about our great God.

God can also speak to us through fellowship with others. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.”  It is in the relationships we have with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors that we find support and encouragement. God created us as social beings and connecting to other people whom we trust and feel safe with can help shut down the “fight-or-flight” response. Quality time with the people that are important to us and those that we feel “get” us can also lower feelings of loneliness and depression. Talking about what stress us with such people can often help us find solutions that we couldn’t see before. However, even if a solution is nowhere in sight, just having someone listen with genuine care and concern can help lower the level of stress we feel at the moment.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “a merry heart does good, like medicine.” Laughter is a great stress reliever, helps to relax your muscles, and reduces some of the physical symptoms of stress. It can make difficult situations easier for you to handle and connect you with the people around you. At the very least, it will improve your mood and make you feel happier.

This blog is part 15 in a series. Be sure to begin with part 1.

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