Fight Stress with the Power of Connection

Fight Stress with the Power of Connection The World Health Organization defines stress “as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a dif...

Fight Stress with the Power of Connection
How to stay connected with the people you love
4 min read
Fight Stress with the Power of Connection

The World Health Organization defines stress “as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. However, how we respond to stress makes a big difference to our overall well-being.”

When you google stress, the options for handling stress are so very numerous that it makes it challenging to pick a method. One source, the American Heart Association, offers connecting as a way to manage stress:
"Connect with family and friends"
Humans are social creatures. Our ancestors learned the benefits of cooperation long ago, leaving us with an innate desire to connect. And studies have shown that feeling connected socially can have positive health effects.
Connecting with family and close friends can be a helpful antidote to stress too. People who know you well will know what you’re going through, and they may be able to offer a helpful perspective if you care to discuss the stress factors in your life.
But there’s no obligation to focus your interactions on “solving” your stress, or theirs. You may find it rejuvenating just to talk about the weather, or upcoming celebrations or gatherings. And don’t be afraid to make the first move: If you haven’t talked to an old friend in a bit, send her a “How’s it going?” message and see what you get back.
Reconnecting with an old friend can work wonders!
Connect with a casual acquaintance or stranger
The benefits of connection aren’t restricted to your inner circle. In fact, research suggests that even casual interactions - with acquaintances, or, say, your postal carrier on a sunny afternoon – promote social and emotional well-being.
So if you want to defuse stress, don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy small talk with a cashier or a delivery person. Or tell a coworker (or your favorite barista in a green apron) how much you appreciate them. You’ll likely make their day, and you’ll be lowering your stress level to boot.
And just as the benefits of connection aren’t reserved for your BFFs, it’s not required to be IRL (in real life) either: These days, you can make a meaningful connection with friends and acquaintances via text, email, Facebook, or chat while gaming.

Don’t be afraid to put good out there, in the form of positive or supportive comments on social media. Chances are, some of that good will come back to you.
Connect with a furry friend
Did you know that studies show that merely the act of petting a dog decreases blood pressure?
And that’s just the beginning. Interacting with your pet can relieve stress and suppress stress hormones. Pets bring us feelings of goodwill, joy, nurturing and happiness. Everyone can relate to that wave of warmth that your pet greets you with after a long day at work!
Connecting with your pet can have additional benefits too. Taking your pet to the park might invite healthy social interaction with other people who love their pets. And if you’re active with your pet – puppy yoga, anyone? – that has its own healthful upsides, too.
Connect with nature
Get out there! Spending time in nature can improve your health and well-being.
But you don’t have to hike the Alps to jettison your stress. A walk in a nearby park or around the high school track still gives you the stress-lessening benefit of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.
You get bonus points – and bonus stress relief – if you combine your time in nature with social interaction. Invite a friend to join you for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. With each step, you may find your stress fading away.
Connect with yourself
You can also find stress relief by looking inward. Science recognizes the stress management and mental health benefits of prayer and belief in a higher power, as well as other forms of spirituality.
Many people find stress relief through meditation or mindfulness exercises. Others alleviate stress through mind-body practices, such as yoga or tai chi.
Connection matters
Connection has the power to relieve stress, and the power of connection can be found in many forms – from a genuine moment of human interaction at the grocery store to a moment of silence amidst the trees in a forest.”
I hope at least one of these ways will appeal to you. At St. Luke’s, we are blessed to enjoy so many connections—through worship, fellowship, studies and yoga, to name a few. And for more ideas, please pick up a “Stress Less For a Healthy Heart” from either the Welcome table or in Pope Hall.
Faithfully yours,
Becky Williams, RN, BSN
Director of Health Ministries

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