Obviously, as a Christian life coach I bring some bias to the table and I will be up front about that, as my own personal faith has helped me through some very difficult and stressful times in my life. I wanted to share some sources that are from more neutral sources. These studies below represent ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’ and not only Christianity.
Part of this, no matter what a person’s take on religion or spirituality is, is about finding identity. Once a person knows who they are and what they are all about, they are better able to manage the difficulties and stress in life. Having a foundational starting point of morality, community and theology can be a wonderful place to learn about yourself, your purpose in life, learn about humanity and God. Thus religion can be a huge benefit in life by simply helping a person discover who they are and what this world is all about.
Research has shown that the health benefits of laughter are far-ranging. While more studies need to be done, studies so far have shown that laughter can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness, and even increase immunity.
Laughter relaxes the whole body.
Laughter boosts the immune system.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphin.
Laughter protects the heart.
Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones.
While increases the level of health-enhancing hormones.
A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, abs, shoulders and the heart.
Laughter produces natural pain killers!
Laughter simulates many organs and soothe tension in the brain and body.
Laughter is contagious and can bring people closer together and happier together.
Laughter is an awesome distraction from negative emotions and stress.
Laughter is an amazing coping device in good times and in the difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people. Laughter can improve mood, lessen depression and anxiety and generally make you feel happier. Laughter is best practiced with friends but can be practiced simply by watching TV, searching the internet for entertaining stories and memes. I recommend also going out to be entertained at a comedy club or enjoying an evening with entertaining friends. Finally, take life lightly, find humor in every day living. Why so serious?
It is very beneficial and therapeutic sometimes just to have someone to vent to, especially if this person is trained as a professional listener. We all have a human desire to be heard. We need to just talk to some one some times. Accountability goes even further than just listening, but also provides feedback. Having a mentor, coach, counselor or even a best friend in your life can be very useful in helping you stay on track of meeting your goals in life and having added support.
Accountability and Stress
Having a coach or counselor, in particular, is useful in helping mange stress. Coaches and counselors are trained to help people change the way they think. With a coach or a counselor in your life you can become an even more productive and positive person. These experts also have many tools and resources for stress management.
Just as sleep is essential, so is exercise. Countless numbers of studies tally up the numerous reasons for why exercise is so vital to good human health. Even just 10-15 minutes a day of walking can be beneficial. The benefits of this kind of exercise can include weight loss as well as a lowered risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.
How much exercise?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all Americans over the age of 6 get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, totaling at least 150 (but with more, the benefits skyrocket) weekly. Risk of premature death is nearly cut in half when comparing people who exercise vigorously for just one hour per day compared to those who only did it for 30 minutes per week.
The Benefits of Exercise
Lowers risk of stroke, heart disease, lowers blood pressure, lowers risk of diabetes, lowers risk of a number of cancers, prevents weight gain, increases weight loss, reduces depression, increase cognitive functioning, better muscular health and musculoskeletal health and increased energy!
Stress and Exercise
When the human body is exercising regularly, stress reduction also occurs. Exercise should be the first prescription for stress, anxiety and depression. When the body exercises, endorphin, a neurotransmitter (and natural pain and stress reducer), flood the brain with pleasure and healing. This creates a happy, healthy, well-balanced brain that really does help fight against anxiety, stress and even depression.
Sleep is so important to the human body! When we sleep serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter, re-fuels and recharges the brain. Serotonin is “gas” for the brain. It helps humans to stay happy and healthy, more alert and focused, increased productivity and memory as well as better reaction time and judgment. All of these things!
The Lack of Sleep
With a lack of sleep, our brains do not function at full capacity. Something has to suffer. In fact people with less serotonin suffer from anxiety, moodiness, a lack of judgement, fatigue, cognitive impairment, trouble falling asleep and depressive tendencies.
How Much Sleep?
Experts say that human adults should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. The human body is designed to shut-down and recover daily. In the deep REM sleep is when the serotonin cleans up the brain. Some experts recommend even more than 8 hours per night. Not everyone sleeps the same way, so people are better off to sleep 4-5 hours during the night and then take a 2-3 hour nap mid-day.
Sleep and Stress
Sleep is one of the easiest and best ways to reduce stress in life. By simply getting a regular and healthy amount of sleep on a regular basis, one can prevent feeling stressed as well as feel better after a more stressful day or event.
I have mentioned several times the importance of resting for self-care and living to our full potential. CEOs, caretakers, pastors and workaholics are dead set in their work ethic. They want to be productive and successful. It is wonderful to be living with such high goals and expectations. Although, this always-on-the-go lifestyle has it’s downfalls too. We were not created to work this way. The Bible offers a lot of examples and principles for a healthy lifestyle.
The truth is that the Bible offers a picture of balance. Rest is important is a principle depicted by even God the Father, who rested on the seventh day after creating the universe. Jesus followed suit on many occasions He “went away” from everyone to be alone with God the Father to fast, rest and pray. While I could continue on in the theological evidence, I want to also mention that more and more studies are providing the same information that I am arguing from a Biblical perspective. On Wednesday, I posted my weekly links post. This theme for these links is napping. Napping helps people to be well-rested and in turn, more productive. Even Google is embracing the importance of well-rested employees, as they provide rest pods for their workers.
Through the Bible there is a theme centering around boundaries and balance. We can be the most productive and the most pleasant when we have proper boundaries in our lives. Work is definitely a high priority and an important one. At times, it can be difficult to put down the phone and spend time with kids. Important meetings and business deals need to get down, yes. But there are other priorities that need to be balanced as well. How are you doing socially? emotionally? physically? sexually? close relationships?
Your job will not satisfy all of your needs.
This why we need rest and we need balance. I challenge you to rest this week. Even if it is only marked out for one hour every day this week or blocked out for a Friday or Saturday evening. During this time, enjoy God and enjoy other people. Do not entertain thoughts about your job. Also take care of yourself. Exercise or enjoy a hobby. Get ready for the next storm. Life does not stop, but as a human you should stop and rest.
Imagine a situation with me. If you felt called by God to walk into a cancer ward and to pray for an individual and image that God healed that person. Immediately. The newly healed person felt healed and there was absolutely no sign of the cancer in this person anymore. You and this person would be ecstatic and jumping up and down on the bed. The nurses and doctors would not know what to do. Then as you walked out of the room, you felt God call you to another room to pray for someone else. Then imagine a similar situation occurring, where God heals the person you pray for. If this continued to happen time and time again, at the very least another sick person with cancer would be calling you, more likely the doctors would want to know what you were doing and even more likely the news would be putting you on the spotlight.
This is just one fictional example of what it might be like to experience what Jesus might have experienced. Can you picture it? Jesus must have been in high demand! There must have been word out of his miraculous healings and wonders. I am sure that people were well aware of what he was doing and I imagine that people wanted his time and his healing touch.
Jesus models something else for us that we really need to take into consideration. Jesus took breaks. He rested. He went away to be alone with God, even in his busiest season. Even when people were still hurting and in need. Even when Jesus was demanded and reached a celebrity status of his time….He went away to be with God alone:
Mark 1 : 35 (NIV): Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Mark 6:46- Jesus, after a busy day of healing people, sent people away so that He could be alone in prayer. If you continue reading the chapter there are still people lined up looking for Jesus (v. 55). Again in Matt. 14: 22-23, Jesus dismissed the crowds, so He could go to the mountainside by Himself to pray. Jesus’ priorities were very clear. Luke 5:16 says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This was a habit for Jesus. Jesus quietly slipped away again and again, as it is mentioned in Luke 9:10 also.
Jesus rested on the Sabbath and went to the synagogue (Lk. 4:16), the equivalent of going to church on Sunday. The morning before choosing His twelve disciples, Lk. 6 reports that Jesus spent the night in prayer. Throughout His time on earth as a human, Jesus modeled the importance of taking time off to recharge. This involved a lot of prayer. His source truly was God the Father. We too can follow this example and knell before the Lord God, our Father for strength and refreshment as well.