Soul – “the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.”
Excessive, prolonged stress can cause anxiety as a reaction to the body wearing down from overexposure to stress. This will stress the soul. So, what can we do to nourish our souls while under prolonged stress? Below are some things I’ve learned over the years. I’d love your suggestions as well!
- The biggest thing that nourishes my soul is maintaining my relationship with Jesus. He made me and knows how to lavish my soul with good gifts, even while under stress. His word feeds me; worship fills me, and thanksgiving reorients my soul to notice his good gifts.
- Ask the Lord if there is something I am doing that is increasing the stress. My soul can hide so many things even from me, that sometimes, when stress seems more than it should, I ask if there is something hidden within that is contributing (a lie I’m believing; a hurt I’m harboring; or an action that enhances). God has always answered this prayer – although not always right away. Sometimes I’ve had to spend extended time with him; and sometimes I’ve needed to fast to get the answer. God wants my attention.
- Is there sin I’m harboring? My soul can’t be nourished to the full if I’m harboring unforgiveness, or holding onto a thought or behavior that is contrary to God’s peace.
- Do I need to let go of control and trust God? Grasping for control in areas beyond me is a big cause of stress in my life. Control Freak doesn’t work, but letting God work does.
- Am I too busy? Am I taking time regularly for the purpose of nourishing my soul? Am I taking time to rest and restore?
- Take time to notice beauty. I have even asked the Lord to help me see his beauty and those things he has given to bless me. Last week I took the dog for a walk and while outside stopped, closed my eyes, felt the sunshine on my face, and listened intently for a few moments to the birds chirping their songs. I could actually feel my insides responding to God’s gifts to me in the moment, and I was refreshed.
- Take time to eat properly and get regular exercise. Certain foods and exercise although needed for bodily health, will also nourish the soul by helping alleviate stress. I’ve found that enjoying the company of a friend while doing both, coupled with laughter, nourishes the soul even more! (I am just learning about the foods that alleviate stress. The vitamin D found in sunshine is also extremely beneficial to elevating mood.)
- Take time regularly to do something fun. I love to garden – getting my hands dirty is so relaxing for me. Landscape photography helps me de-stress, as well as putting on headphones and lying on the floor with my legs propped on the sofa. What is your “fun”?
- Incorporate the help of a friend if needed to hold you accountable to nourish your soul regularly.
- If your stress is because of danger to you or your children, you may need to seek safety.
Finally, I will close with the following song: “O My Soul” by Casting Crowns
With much love,