The best things in life are free...
Except when you are talking about stress!
Stress often comes as the free add on to many of the things we do and experience in life.
And STRESS can be a MONSTER!
You are more keenly aware of this than anyone else as finals are breathing heavy down your neck.
So, what's a person to do?
It is more than a bit ridiculous to think that someone can live a stress free life. Responsibility brings with it a certain amount of embedded stress. It is part of the deal. As was said above, it comes free of charge as an added "bonus" to much of what we do and experience in life.
Because of this, the question shouldn't really be how you can eliminate stress from your life. That is unrealistic. The real question is how can you manage the stress that exists in your life so that it no longer dominates your mind, your body, and your health.
There really is no secret potion or magic arrow for the complete elimination of the STRESS MONSTER because it looks and behaves differently for each of us. Therefore, I won't insult you by providing a list of books to read or exercises to do in order to eradicate stress. What I will provide is a list of questions to consider. As you think about your responses, consider how you might intentionally take action on one or two of them in hopes of managing your stress level as you go into finals (or any other time you feel stressed).
1. What is your favorite genre of music? You know, the songs that immediately take you to that "happy place." Maybe your "guilty pleasure" songs that no one else knows you really like - Spotify can be your friend here.
2. What is your favorite snack? Think back to when you were a kid. What was the snack that made you do your "happy dance"? Go find one!
3. What is the one location, within walking distance, that helps you relax? Take a hike!
4. Whose company do you crave when you are stressed?
5. What is the fragrance that immediately conjures up fond memories? Take a whiff!
6. What makes you laugh?
7. Do you have time for a guilt free nap?
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't share a couple of my favorite passages of Scripture that help keep my sanity in check when I feel the most stressed...
"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you"
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Oh, and don't forget to breathe! Every breath can be a prayer uttered to the God who promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
During this stressful time may you discover a way to manage the monster.