In her Wednesday Education Week lecture “Stress Management: Lessons from the Savior,” E. Karen Shores offered advice on preventing and dealing with stress.
Stress is defined as the physiological response to events and changes one perceives to be negative or threatening. One becomes aware of an event through senses, the brain processes it and then responds. The body was created to deal with and function under stress.
We can’t control every event in our lives. Death, accidents and some illnesses just cannot be predicted or controlled. A lot of events, however, can be managed. We can abstain from smoking in order to manage the chances of getting lung cancer. The important thing is how we respond to events, whether they are manageable or not.
“The event is not the stress, the event is merely the trigger that starts the stress process,” Shores said.
We are constantly experiencing stressful things. Anything and everything can cause stress. The best way to manage the stressful events in life is through Christ’s example.
First, Shores recommended keeping the commandments. The commandments protect us from negative consequences and the stress that accompanies them.
We should also pray always. We gain the right to information from Heavenly Father by praying to Him. He will give us clear guidance if we listen.
Being in the world and not of it is very important for avoiding stress. The world’s values change constantly, but the Lord’s stay the same. Shores suggests to watch how you spend your time, money and energy and see if that matches with values.
Increase social support by making more friends. Having support can greatly affect reactions to stress Also, realize that everyone needs a helping hand at some point. No one has all of the skills to get through life on their own. Know when to reach out to others for help.
Letting go of the need to control, manipulate or force others prevents stress. There was a war against control in heaven, and everyone on earth chose free agency. Don’t attempt to take other’s agency and don’t allow others to do the same.
Follow the Word of Wisdom in all its components and get adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation puts stress on the mind and body. It can also bring health consequences such as depression, weight gain and diabetes. Without proper sleep we immediately put stress on ourselves and become eligible for stressful events in the future.
Stress is a constant plague. It exhausts bodily resources. Increased heart rate, tense muscles and high blood pressure are physiological responses to stress. To help manage these, Shores offered two final tips: stop thinking about it and breathe.