When the new year hit, who knew 2020 was going to be this crazy? With masks, quarantine, and schools shutting down all over, it has definitely been a year to remember. I don’t know about you, but I have certainly been more stressed this year than in a while. Stressed that I lost my job when my school closed, stressed looking for a new job, stressed that I had to pack up and move 14 hours away, stressed about finishing my degree and how to get everything done on time, and so many other aspects of life. Stress can be a great motivator, but long-term it can be dangerous and unhealthy. So what do you do if your life is stressful? How do you cope with the stress and continue on without burning out? How do you take time to refresh and relax in a stressful life?
I’ve definitely coped differently with stress over the years. I’ve had unhealthy patterns of watching movies and TV shows that just drown out real life and make you forget about everything for a time. But you know what I learned from doing that? Instead of helping me de-stress and make me feel better, those patterns actually made me feel worse. It made me feel guilty for wasting time and sad that I didn’t do something productive or spend time with friends or getting to know new people. I’m not saying that movies and TV are necessarily a bad thing; I think they have their time and place. However, if you are using them as a crutch or a forget-all to de-stress and not think about life, maybe it’s time to find some better habits that will actually refresh, benefit, and lift up your soul.
My favorite way to refresh and de-stress from the world is simply to go outside. I LOVE being outside. I love sleeping outside, eating outside, running outside, swimming outside, and reading outside. You get the picture - I’m just an outside girl. Even if being outside isn’t your jam, maybe you’re afraid of bugs or you think it’s too hot or too cold, I want to challenge you to try to spend just 5-10 minutes outside the next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Here are a few scientific reasons that going outside is good for you:
Relieves Stress (Hello 2020!)
Strengthen Immunity (See ya COVID-19)
Sharpen Your Focus (A+ on your next exam)
Helps Develop a Healthier Diet (Yay, more energy)
Calm Mind (More peace)
Aids in Weight Management (Always a plus)
Better Your Short-Term Memory (Don’t be a “Dory”)
Improve Vision (Bye bye glasses)
Fight Nature Deficit Disorder (Yes it’s a real thing!)
Increase Longevity (“Live long on the earth” Deuteronomy 5:33)
My favorite outdoor activities that specifically refresh me are reading outside (in my hammock) and running. Yes, running. Running outside, especially in nature, is my biggest form of de-stressing. It just feels great to get out and exercise in the fresh air. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” My body gets weary when I run, but it also refreshes my brain and makes me more alert.
I also love hiking to waterfalls or anywhere I can get in and swim. Hiking is a great weekend activity if you are too busy during the week. I also love photography. A great way to be motivated to get outside is to grab your camera or your smartphone and take some photos. They don’t have to be professional; just find something that interests you and snap some pictures. It helps you get out of your head and focus on what you’re taking a photo of. You can take photos around your dorm, outside your classroom, or walking to class.
At this point you might be saying, “This is great and all, but I don’t have time to go for a run or a hike to a waterfall or to read in a hammock.” That’s ok! If you don’t have time to do any of the things that refresh me, it’s time to find out what refreshes you. I encourage you to just step outside, maybe walk from one point to another, and then go back to your studies or work or whatever you were doing that was making you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Just getting outside and seeing sunshine and breathing fresh air will do wonders to refresh you.
The Bible is the best book on how to live our lives, so here are some Bible verses about being refreshed:
Exodus 31:17 says, “It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” So, even if you don’t have much time to rest and be refreshed during the week, remember the Sabbath day is made for rest and the refreshment of our souls.
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
Psalm 23:1-3, “A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.”
Anna Plank is a recent graduate of Southern Adventist University. She has a BS in Graphic Design, and a Masters of Science in Outdoor Education. She also has a great blog entitled akpboarder505.wixisite.com/bloggergirl Check out the podcast episode she did for Carved to Beautify - "A Woman of God is Fearless."