Relax, It's All Going to be OKay!
Here is my list, completely condensed into three categories: spirit, soul and body. I find if I daily practice these three categories it is very effective at alleviating and 'casting off' the anxious thoughts, tense body and immune-weakening burden called STRESS. Feel free to add these to your STRESS-busting arsenal.
1. For my spirit, I daily practice fully embracing Shalom. Shalom: Taken from the Hebrew verb shalam, literally means to make whole or complete. The noun shalom has the more literal meaning of being in a state of wholeness or with no deficiency. "What I am leaving with you is shalom - I am giving you my shalom. I don't give the way the world gives. Don't let yourselves be upset or frightened." John 14:27 CJB (emphasis mine)
How do I fully embrace Shalom? I receive it as the gift that it is. I do this through prayer and opening my heart to Jehovah-Shalom (The Lord IS Complete, Whole, with no deficiency, The Prince of Peace). I take "captive" the thoughts/lies that invade with the intent to steal the Shalom I've been given, then I throw them away, choosing to stay in His Presence, His Calm, His Peace that only He gives. I slow down, stilling my mind and heart and listening for His soft whisper of a reminder that He has me and won't let me go. I can relax and trust His arms to carry me through that moment, that Season, that trial or tribulation or just plain stressful situation. I am in perfect homeostasis when I relax and know that with Him in control, all is going to be Okay. "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death" Max Lucado
2. For my soul (thoughts, will, emotions) I daily practice aligning my mind and heart up with, "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." Philippians 4:8 NIV
For me this includes reading Scripture (memorizing and deeply contemplating His transformational words), listening to beautiful music, singing positive songs, avoiding the news (not to be ignorant, but to avoid sensationalized fear=stress promoting information that has no bearing on my life or sphere of influence), reading material that helps me grow in my mind and heart into a more whole, balanced person.
Another great tool is journaling my thoughts. This is incredibly helpful in identifying what direction my mind is trying to take me. Being AWARE, slowing down enough to capture the thoughts and impressions whizzing by, blocking out that which is not MY internal dialogue, but outside "voices" (cultural pressures, etc.). Then I know what to embrace and what to reject.
"Don't believe everything you think." Take it captive, label it and delete it if it doesn't bring Freedom; fully embrace Truth.
3. For my physical health, I maintain homeostasis or quickly get back to it by losing that tight feeling in my chest, the back of my neck, headaches, stomachaches, backaches, aches, aches and more aches that stress brings on by being again AWARE of what my physical body is telling me.
I practice "body checks" throughout the day. These physical clues tell me if I've let stress in without knowing it cognitively. I start at the top of my head: I rub my scalp (my hairdresser taught me to do this, ideally my scalp should be "loose") is it tight? Sore? If yes, I know I'm tense. Then I check my lower jaw, moving it gently back and forth. Is my jaw stiff? Sore? Locked? It's amazing how stiff it can become in just seconds of encountering an even mildly stressful situation or conversation. This leads to my neck (the back of my neck which is the nerve center for hormones, emotions, etc). If it aches, I know I've either embraced stress or am sitting/standing in the wrong position. How are my shoulders feeling? My chest, is it tight? Am I BREATHING?! I often find I'm holding my breath when I'm stressed (or holding my breath, causing stress, LOL)! Taking deep (up from my thoracic diaphragm) slow breaths is SO relaxing, I can feel the rest of my body losing tension. Oxygen is our friend, right?! This leads to my abdomen. Is it tense? Does it feel like a rock is sitting on it? It is "upset"?
As someone who deals with certain food intolerance, I have to be careful about what I consume as many foods can cause intestinal distress. I practice consuming stress-free foods like dark green veggies (see past post on the awesome Green Smoothie), lean, organic, all green-fed meats, free range poultry and wild caught fish (some eat only completely raw foods (no meats) and find this to be the best stress free food for them) and fresh fruits, organic and high in antioxidants. This keeps my body up on it's proper nutrients, enzymes and pro-biotics (I also take certain supplements to fill in what I'm not getting from my food intake).
What's the best way to get my whole body relieved of tight, achy stress? I get outside and walk, simple as that! I don't "power" walk, I don't jog, run or do anything else that causes ME stress (I know, those can be a great stress reliever for many reading this, it just isn't for me). I find the greatest physical stress relief when I walk somewhere that I find pleasing to all of my senses. I breath deeply, gently stretching before and after. If the weather is not suitable for outdoor rambles, I head to the gym or turn on some of my favorite dance music and get moving! The point is getting the body moving, having fun and "feeding the senses" while doing it is a fantastic physical stress relief. "If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end." – Julius Erving
My final thought on stress relievers (besides hanging out with loved ones, taking educational classes that feed your passions, taking naps, getting a massage and many other physical things we can do to alleviate stress) is the importance of LAUGHTER. “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22 Amplified Have you laughed today? Got laughter?! It really is so important. I believe laughter is a gift, the fruit of Joy, which is an amazing spiritual fruit. It doesn't even require watching a comedy, though that works, too. I find that if I really open my eyes and look around me, I can find much that brings me Joy to the point of laughter. Life is one giant treasure hunt of His Goodness.
This is how I maintain equilibrium, staying stress-free as I embrace His Shalom, keeping my mind on Him and by getting out there and enjoying His Goodness. I'm SO grateful (another way to stay stress-free) for all of His Goodness.
So, how do you maintain your homeostasis?