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NEWS | July 24, 2015

Subduing stress through spirituality

By Lt. Col. Daniel Thompson Joint Base Charleston senior chaplain

A man went to his physician, complaining of constant headaches. The physician asked if he smoked.

"Yes, I do," said the fellow.

"Well, stop smoking," suggested the physician.

The man stopped but the headaches persisted. He went back.

"Do you drink?"

"Yeah, I drink considerably."

So he stopped. The headaches persisted.

"Are you engaged in physical labor that would in some way put pressure on your back?"

"Yes, I am."
"Quit your job."

He quit his job and took another position but his headaches persisted. Every day the pain pulsed through his head. Finally, they discovered he was wearing a size 15 collar on a size 16 neck. No wonder he had a headache!

Superficial problems call for superficial solutions. But real life isn't like that. Its headaches and stresses go deeper, right down to the bone. They touch the nerve areas of our security. Some tangible ways to relieve stress might include exercising more, eating nutritional meals, sniffing citrus and talking about your problems. However, another effective means to relieve stress is through spirituality.

Don't overlook the many stress relief benefits  because of spirituality's intangible nature. Instead, consider how spirituality can walk you through the many stresses you may endure. It can lead you to:

· Finding purpose in your life. Purpose is different for everyone. What you identify as your path may be unique from others. Your life purpose is about recognizing your own gifts and using them to contribute to your community--whether those gifts are writing novels for others to enjoy, assisting friends with their lawn or simply bringing more happiness and peace to  those around you. Such activities have been proven to help reduce stress.

· Connecting to those around you. With greater purpose comes a greater means of faith and connecting to those in your circles of life. Leading  to a feeling of no longer being alone. This offers an extensive inner peace that transcends all understanding in tough times. Whether you find spirituality in a church, mosque, synagogue or other place of serenity, this sharing of spiritual expression can help reduce stress.

· Surrendering control. When you feel a part of a greater whole or part of a team, you recognize that you are no longer responsible for everything that happens in this world. By sharing one another's burdens in difficult times as well as experiencing the joy with others in good times, you bear less responsibility and gain greater hope. For those who believe in God, giving one's burdens over to Him creates  a sense of peace during stressful or painful events  Regardless of your faith, sharing your load  with someone else helps lift unnecessary stress weighing you down.

The effects of spirituality do not end with these three indices. More focus on spirituality can lead to greater personal development, growth, defining of values, peace, meaning, belonging and faith. One thing is for sure, there's going to be stress in life but you choose how you cope with it; whether through tangible yet temporal means or intangible yet eternal means.