By Dr. Robert Lee Hill
Managing stress is a major focus for people during this time of pandemic threat, economic uncertainty, political tensions, international conflict, and spiritual turmoil. While most of these concerns may lie beyond our personal control, we all can more effectively manage stress in ourselves and our families. We all can’t do everything, but we each can do something.
One of the simplest and most effective ways of decreasing one’s stress also applies to managing stress in our families: Every day, do something good for your body, your mind, and someone else. It may not be possible for every member of the family to do all three every day, but a weekly, noncompetitive family check-in can be inspirational.
Every day, do something good for your body, your mind, and someone else.
Once, while participating in a rowing class held at the junction of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, I gained a key insight about increasing the presence of endorphins (the “feel good” hormones) in our bodies and its effect on groups. The rowing instructor was disagreeable, and on more than one occasion, was actually mean to some members of the class. None of us quit the class, and I returned home from every session relaxed and invigorated. When I asked a psychologist friend why I was feeling so good when the class atmosphere was so bad, he remarked that I had experienced most of the characteristics for increasing endorphin rush: (1) activities with others; (2) physical exertion; (3) musicality (instrumental, vocal, or nature sounds); and (4) breaking away from one’s usual routine. Activities with others, regular exercise, music in all of its forms (including playing an instrument or singing in a choir), a vacation or short day-trip to experience something new—all these can lead to managing stress more effectively.
Stress of any and all kinds is impossible to avoid. It comes with our membership cards in the human family. But managing stress is not only possible but attainable.
Dr. Robert Lee Hill is Minister Emeritus of Community Christian Church, where he served for more than 30 years. He is also Community Consultant with the Kauffman Foundation, with a focus on community engagement with public education. He is the author of ten books, most recently, ALL YOU NEED IS MORE LOVE.