“Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9
The other night I was relaxing (or so I thought!) in my bed watching a movie when I suddenly became aware of my posture. Although it was late, quiet, and peaceful in my little apartment and I had no deadlines or stressors pressing down on me, my shoulders were hunched up in a tight ball of tension, and my abs were clenched as if I were poised for battle. When I had this moment of clarity and paid attention to what my body was telling me, it truly surprised me. Most of us go through life on autopilot, and we don’t ever really stop to see what our bodies are telling us. Mine was telling me, quite simply, “Mandy, you don’t know how to relax.”
Since that night, I have begun to do little check-ins with myself throughout the day, and I’ve found that I’ve adopted the same tense, rigid stance in many other scenarios. When I’m driving my car, for example, I tend to hunch over the steering wheel, all tied up in bundles of stress.
So what has us all on edge? As a society, we go through life holding our breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Anxiety is at an all-time high as we deal with threats of terror alerts, unemployment rates, soaring gas prices, deadlines, obligations, and traffic jams. We spend so much time trying to put out fires that we never have a chance simply to relax in front of them. But what can we do about it? Isn’t that “just life”?
The things we don’t stress tend to turn out best. Trust and let go.
In a word, no. Being a constant bundle of nerves, tension, and anxiety is not “just life.” It’s waiting to live and living in fear; it’s not actually living.
Simple Ways to De-stress
- Exercise! You don’t have to go all P90X or anything. A simple walk around the block can work wonders! And exercising not only helps you relax, but it also releases endorphins, which make you feel happy.
- Pamper yourself. Get a massage or a mani/ pedi, take a bubble bath, go buy that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeballing for a month. A big cause of stress is forgetting to take care of yourself. Sometimes a little “vitamin TLC” is just what the doctor ordered.
- Talk to a friend, or pray. Your friends are always there to listen. So is God.
- Journal. Sometimes just putting what you’re feeling into writing is enough to release the burden and make you feel lighter.
- Channel all that energy into something creative. Take a dance class. Paint a picture. Finally start that Pinterest project of turning old candle jars into snow globes.
Stress is energy that needs to be released, so instead of letting it work against you, make it work for you!
Sometimes it’s okay just to let go, relax into life, float, and let God carry you, trusting that He is the ultimate life raft. If you were swimming, you wouldn’t try to grasp tightly to the water to stay afloat, would you? No, you would let go and relax into the ocean’s waves. So why do we find this so hard to do in life? Pay attention, even now, to how you’re sitting as you’re reading this. Are your shoulders bunched up and tight? Is your neck stiff? Are your abs clenched as if you’re waiting to go to battle?
Stop. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Trust.
Stop holding your breath, and allow life to take your breath away. You can surrender. You can let go. Will everything turn out exactly as you hope or plan? No. Not everything. That’s just part of life. But then again, some things will turn out even better! And either way it goes, the best approach is to truly believe that whatever happens, God is in control.
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What happened when you read Mandy’s question about whether or not your body feels tense right now? Did you discover you were all bunched up? What are some ways you choose to leave stressors in God’s lap and enjoy life? Leave a comment on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily