Friday, March 20, 2009

Ideas for Stressed Out Americans

According to a recent survey, 8 out of 10 Americans are stressed over the economy. I mentioned in a previous entry how people are losing sleep over the economy and now there's all that anger too.  I was thinking about how much people in the pews need practical advice on improving the quality of their lives. Of course that would be in addition to meaningful and poignant reflections on the Scripture readings. Just my opinion, but it wouldn't hurt to help people deal with stress.  Why not include suggestions in homilies? It's difficult to pray when you're stressed out. So here are some ideas that I've gathered-(in case there are any priests or deacons who might read this blog from time to time). Anyhow these suggestions are for everyone...
*To reduce stress seek sunlight, water, parks and other natural environments-(according to Stephen Kellert, Ph.D., "Humans have always relied on nature to sustain us, so it's not surprising that it soothes us when we're under stress.") Even visualizing nature can lift your mood.
*Walk away stress-people who are regular walkers report having a significantly higher quality of life such as improved mood, decreased bodily pains and walking is also great for your overall health. Walking can reduce the risk of many diseases.
*Positive affirmations do help us feel better-such as, "I am a child of God, God's divine favor is coming my way." 
*Laugh and laugh some more-laughing is good for us, psychologically and physically as well. See humor in situations. 
*The Holy Name of Jesus Prayer-Using the name of Jesus in prayer is an ancient practice in the Church. Simple but powerful, it has a calming affect as well as bringing one closer to God. Find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes and try to still your thoughts . Take a deep breath in through your nose. As you breathe in, quietly say "Jesus" and slowly exhale the breath through your mouth and feel worries and anxieties leave your body and quietly say, "Savior," "Redeemer" or "Lamb of God," or another title for Jesus.  This prayer can be prayed for a few minutes or longer. Rest after you have completed this prayer.