I’ve understood for a long time that stress is bad and has negative effects on overall health. What I didn’t understand, however, was that all of my other efforts to improve my health were in vain until I could control my stress levels and my way of thinking. Yes, dieting and exercise were only a waste of time, effort and money. This realization allowed me to see why my weight loss efforts were failing and my attempts at ideal health were falling way short of my goal.
Once I realized the effect my mind and attitude have on my body, I began to focus my efforts there instead of on increased exercise and decreased food portions. Daily, I made a conscious effort to control my stress levels and to set my mind at peace. I meditated on Scripture verses and paid close attention to the thoughts that were entering my mind at all times. By heeding my thoughts, I was able to filter out the negative ones and focus on the positives. (Read more about this process on my blog, A Word Fitly Spoken.) I allowed myself free time during the day to pursue a hobby or simply to relax. All in all, I put less emphasis on productivity and my to-do list, and more emphasis on keeping my mind and thoughts in a state of peace and rest.
In just a couple of weeks, I was already seeing results. Believe it or not, I had more energy and time for exercise and a greater desire to eat healthier foods. My muscles began to relax, and my tension began to ebb away. And after months of maintaining the same weight, I finally lost a couple of pounds. But even more importantly, I felt more mentally and emotionally stable than I have felt in months. I am sleeping better and getting more accomplished in each day by living a more stress-free life.
For so long. I believed that healthy living began with the body, but I now understand that is not the case. It begins in the mind, and until you control your mind, it will control you and hinder your efforts toward a healthy lifestyle. If your healthy living plan is not living up to your expectations, it may be time to examine your mind, attitude and stress level.
- Do you experience negative thoughts on a daily basis?
- Do you feel fear or panic about not meeting deadlines or finishing the tasks set before you?
- Do you lie in bed at night dreading the next day and the demands it will make on you?
- Do you feel snappy with your spouse, children or co-workers? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is a good sign that you need to spend as much time (if not more) working on your thoughts and emotions as you do working on your exercise plan and diet.
- There are many ways to calm the mind and relax the spirit, but my favorite is to chase away the demons and negative emotions with Scripture.
When I’m feeling frazzled or I simply need time to recharge my batteries, I grab my copy of There’s a Verse for That and flip through its pages in search of a verse for my current situation. Once I find a verse or two, I spend five to ten minutes reading the verse(s) aloud and allowing the message to soak into my soul. The soothing words never fail to comfort me and bring me the peace I require. From there, I can go about my day and accomplish all the tasks before me without fear, frustration, or stress. And in the end, both my mind and body benefit from the extra effort.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. – Philippians 4:6
What are some ways you can reduce your stress load?