Community in Action October 31, 2020

How is your Saturday going? Are you prepared for Halloween? How about end of Daily Light Saving Time? How about the election? One or more of these questions may have caused you a bit of anxiety, maybe not, but I was reading recently about some tips about dealing with stress. So I wanted to share with you this article, which I found helpful.

    Stress triggers the release of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, which Dr. Heckman said affects mood, motivation and fear.

    “It works with parts of your brain and the physiology of your body,’’ he said. “You need some of that (cortisol) to be motivated. But too much of that, you live in a state of ongoing anxiety, which is very bad for you.’’

Three mental health professionals interviewed by USA TODAY offered tips for managing stress.



    Nefertiti Nowell, a licensed clinical professional counselor in the Chicago metropolitan area, subscribes to this motto: “If you can master your morning, you can master your day.’’

    She recommends brief stretching exercises and writing down something you’re grateful for — preferably a new source of gratitude every day. Yoga, deep breathing and meditation can be added to the morning ritual, but it’s not necessary, according to Nowell.

    “I’ve learned that if it’s anything over five minutes, people are less likely to do it,’’ she said. “Everybody has three minutes to get their blood flowing. And so if we take those three minutes to do that, then it really gets us centered for that day.

    “It’s more about mental health than it is just physical health. It’s the getting the blood flowing for the body but even for you to say, ‘I have control over something. I’ve got control over three minutes of my morning.’ ”



    JaNaé Taylor, a counselor in Virginia Beach, Va., said she recommends deep breathing and one of her favorite breathing exercises is called the “4-7-8 breath.’’

  • Inhale for a count of four.
  • Hold the breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale for a count of eight.

    “The idea is that that helps reoxygenate your blood, but it also takes you out of fight-or-flight response, which is sometimes what we feel when we’re getting really anxious,’’ Taylor said. “It calms us down and slows us down. And people can do it in anywhere.’’



    Dr. Chloe Carmichael, a licensed clinical psychologist in New York, recommended making plans for after the event which is causing you some stress — for anything from having lunch with a friend or exercising.

    “I would absolutely plan it out in advance, because it gives you a sense of control and it helps you understand a little bit more about what to expect, and it’s a form of self care,’’ she said. “Just the same way when we plan a vacation, we actually start experiencing the benefits of the vacation even before it happens, just because we know that it’s coming. “It introduces just a small amount of certainty.’’

    She also suggested writing a one-page journal entry recording your thoughts and feelings about the event.

    “Sometimes writing it all own can relieve our brain of the burden of feeling like you have to keep all of those points active,’’ Carmichael said. “And thinking about the idea of potentially that page being passed on down to our children or our children’s children can also help to put the whole event into a little bit of perspective.’’

    Just another thought is to watch and listen for the Spirit. When I was walking up the stairs for swimming at Dougherty Valley High School I noticed a painted rock by the bottom of those stairs. On a yellow background it read, “Peace.” 

    Lord, thanks for reminding me that peace comes from you. We have troubles and concerns, but you care for us always and will bring us the peace we need during all times of anxiety. Help us to receive that peace. Amen.

    Walking this path with you,

    Pastor Randy

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