We live in stressful times. This is both good and bad. Researchers have shown that a certain level of stress is good for us. It leads us to high performance. For example, it is good to feel a bit nervous before giving a speech as this brings the body to top alert status. Stress involves a physical reaction where the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands pump stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. We feel “pumped.” The blood vessels dilate, increasing the blood flow to the brain, muscles are slightly tensed for action. This can be useful when we want to perform at our best. But, when it goes beyond a normal adaptive type of stress, it can be harmful. When we feel stress in a negative way, such as when we are angry, our logical mind is blocked and we may feel coldness in hands and feet, our heart may beat erratically. This is unhealthy. So it’s important to know how to deal with the unhealthy kind of stress.
One approach that I have found to be most useful is the prayer walk. When you feel angry, dejected, upset its time for a walk. Not a nomad walk, but a walk with God. The key is to recognize when you are being impacted by this abnormal stress and excuse yourself so you can focus on walking while you recite the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.” Say the words in cadence with your foot steps. You will find that grace will be give to you and you will begin to slow down and your body will slowly return to its normal state. You can then go back with a clear mind and make good Christian choices. Next time you find yourself being pushed beyond your limit and feeling angry or upset, try it. It does not take long for the prayer to do its work and the walk changes your physical environment. It’s better to walk away than to begin to react in anger or say things you later regret.
You can do this anywhere. You can walk to the rest room, to the canteen, library or other location in your building. If you can go outside this is even better because it is easier to avoid interaction with others. Keep you eyes focused on where you are walking and not on the object or people around you. Do not make eye contact with others. Keep focused on the words of the prayer. Let God enter your heart and guide you.