When you feel stressed or anxious, have you ever paid attention to where those emotions manifest themselves in your body?
The muscle tension these emotions generate can become quite painful, especially if you hold them in your body for a long time.
I can attest to these feelings. During a stressful time a few years ago, I found myself rubbing my forehead, collarbone, and upper chest up and down. It amazed me at how sore the muscles were beneath the skin.
I think of the areas where we hold muscle tension as ”The Bermuda Triangle of Stress.” Think of a triangle with the tip of the triangle at the top of your forehead and the base stretching across your upper chest.
Just as the natural Bermuda Triangle has been implicated in some ship disasters (according to legend), so this physical triangle could have a disastrous effect on your health.
Why? Holding on to muscle tension chronically is linked to chronic pain, such as in conditions like migraines and fibromyalgia.
Many people practice addictive behaviors simply because they’ve learned to use them as a ”release valve” from pressure in the short-term.
Addictions are practiced when impulse meets opportunity.
After all, you never know when a stressful situation is going to occur!
When you are under stress, here are 3 things to consider to escape the ”Bermuda Triangle” of stress, plus 1 to avoid it altogether.
The Mental (Head) Escape
Although the word ”stress” isn’t in the Bible directly, the word ”distress” is there many times!
Distress means ”feeling extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain.”
Here is a Biblical promise to hold on to during times of distress:
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses.”– Psalm 107:13
When you are under stress, remind yourself that you aren’t alone in it. The Lord is with you to comfort, strengthen, and settle you.
I also recommend speaking the following confessions whenever stress tries to catch you up in its whirlwind. Confession means to ”say the same,” which is agreement with God’s word in this case:
- ”The Lord perfects that which concerns me” (according to Psalm 138:8)
- ”The Lord strengthens, helps, and upholds me in every situation” (according to Isaiah 41:10)
- ”I ask the Lord for wisdom and He provides what I need to handle this situation” (according to James 1:5)
Speaking these confessions is a practical way to deliver good words to yourself because this world is filled with negativity that can skew your view of reality.
Remember this truth:
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.– Proverbs 12:25
While you don’t deny the stressful situation, you recognize that it is just one part of reality! God’s presence and provision stretch beyond it.
That’s why it is wise to deliver the whole truth to yourself and not just keep repeating situational facts.
Another truth to practice to escape the ”Bermuda Triangle of Stress” is Proverbs 17:22:
A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.– Proverbs 17:22
It’s okay to weep for a moment, but joy is found in the Lord’s presence and the joy of the Lord is our strength!
Here are some questions to ask yourself to cultivate a merry heart:
- What non-food things do you enjoy and are grateful for? Be sure to incorporate these things into your day and give thanks for them.
- Which people make you feel glad to see and talk to them? Reach out to them often.
- What comedians make you laugh? Seek out their videos on YouTube.
Cultivating a merry heart is anti-anxiety/stress medicine for you, so take this medicine even more seriously than you’d take a doctor’s prescription!
The Shoulder Escape
If you are seated, pay attention to how you are holding your body. Since we sit so much with increased computer use/TV screen time, it’s likely that your shoulders are raised up and/or hunched forward habitually.
I see this as a tension-generating posture and a subconscious message to our bodies that we are under stress.
Think of a cat who arches her back up when she senses a threat! She is getting ready for action – either to fight or flee.
To give your body a physical ”All Clear” message, I recommend using the following exercise. Please use caution if you have any physical limitations with your arm or shoulder range of motion:
- Stretch your arms out wide and slightly back as if you are trying to push walls on either side of you. Take deep breaths and hold for 5 seconds. Release.
- Stretch your arms up and slightly back as if you are trying to push the ceiling up and out of the way. Take deep breaths and hold for 5 seconds. Release.
I believe alternating these 2 exercises each hour that you are sitting helps communicate an ”It is well” message to your body.
I also think that practicing these simple exercises regularly should also help with your posture over time.
The Breathing (Chest) Escape
When we are stressed, we tend to breathe fast and shallow. To escape the triangle, you need to breathe slow and deep.
To do this, I like to place my hands on my stomach for a point of focus. Then, breathe in the following manner:
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 5, feeling your hands move out as your stomach fills with air.
- Hold for a moment.
- Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 7, feeling your hands move in as your stomach deflates.
- Repeat 5 times, focusing on the following scripture:
The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”– Job 33:4
I believe that most of the distress we feel comes from fear of the future or pain of the past.
But meditating on God’s word helps to keep you present-minded so that you have confidence that you can face whatever is happening with God’s help.
I recommend taking several breaks throughout the day to breathe in and enjoy the Lord’s presence.
Avoiding the Bermuda Triangle Altogether
After you escape the triangle, ask yourself:
- Is there anything I can do now to help prevent this distress from happening again in the future?
While it is possible that this situation blind-sided you, there may be times when you can see trouble coming and take steps to address it.
If procrastination from the past is causing present distress, then ask the Lord to show you what you can do now that will make your life easier or better tomorrow.
I strive to live my life according to a principle from the martial arts: “The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into one in the first place.”
This means making a decision about the kind of life you want to live from this day forward.
Then, aim your thoughts toward that life and set up your environment to support that life, including eating for energy and focus.
In this way, you may pass through the ”Bermuda Triangle of Stress” but you don’t live there!