As women, we fill many roles: spouse, mother, caregiver, friend, and employee. Sometimes our day begins at 5:30 am and ends with a slow crawl to the bed around 11:00 pm. Downtime is only during our five or six hours of sleep, and that too is sometimes disturbed by the needs of others. This lifestyle can cause long-term stress that eventually may cause problems both physically and mentally.
It is hard for us to admit that we are stressed out. As Spirit-filled women, we are supposed to stay calm, relaxed—and oh yes, smile. Long-term stress can affect our health. Some warning signs may appear such as sleeping problems, headaches, upset stomach, difficulty concentrating, and feeling tired most of the time. We may also feel irritated with others for little or no reason, have feelings of depression, anxiety, tension in the neck and back, in addition to changes in our normal weight.
During stressful times, God has provided a very unique way for our bodies to handle pressure. Our brain produces a chemical called oxytocin which has a calming effect on the body. This chemical is released in higher levels during childbirth, breastfeeding, and when we seek support from female friends.
I am reminded of a story in Luke chapter one where Mary was informed by an angel that she, an unmarried young woman, was going to have a baby. There would be no announcement in the local paper regarding her marriage to Joseph, no planning for the big wedding of her dreams, no choosing her wedding party, no showers or walking down the church aisle—yet a baby would be born to her.
I can just imagine that Mary was stressed to the max! So what did she do? First of all, she probably had moments of anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches, a little tension in her neck, along with worry and irritation like she had never experienced before. What in the world was she to do about all this stress in her life? Well, she just packed her little ’ole suitcase, got on Cleo, her donkey, and headed for a town in the hill country of Judea to visit her relative, Elizabeth.
Much like us today, these two women, whose stress levels probably hit number ten on the one-ten scale, begin to talk. As Mary poured out her feelings to Elizabeth, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost and began to encourage Mary. Mary in turn began to sing a new song: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” You talk about oxytocin levels on the rise. I can just imagine there was an abundance of it flowing!
Oh how great is our Creator, to create within our brains a chemical that calms our stressed minds with just the simple act of talking with a friend. God knows exactly what we need; how marvelous is God’s plan for each of us. So get on Cleo your donkey—or better yet, get in your car—head out to the home of your best friend, and talk. Let the oxytocin start flowing. Move from stressed to blessed!
Doris Dollins has been in the nursing profession almost twenty years. She has been a hospice RN for the past twelve years. Doris is the mother of four children and thirteen grandchildren. She is a member of the UPC of Paris, Texas, pastored by Robert Myre.
Reprinted with permission from Reflections Magazine.