How Do You Reduce Stress?

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP
Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

I remember a few years ago when I was stressed out about my studies and my never ending to-do or want-to-do list, my spiritual director suggested I go home and do something I enjoyed like baking bread or washing my car by hand.  I still return to this practice and have since included digging in the soil, pulling weeds, or cleaning the house.  (Yes, you can call me if you need help, but….)

I find that as I engage in these tasks, my mind is relieved of pressures, I often pray, and amazingly what feels like new ideas or new connections come together for me.  Not always, of course.  Sometimes it’s a relief to just let my mind wander or to focus completely on the task at hand.

Most recently as I was taking our vegetable peels to the backyard to compost them and was noticing the new life and colors of spring, a question arose:  why do I smile when I see the beautiful flowers and why do I feel sad when I see livingthem die?  As they let go and die, are they not simply entering another stage of beauty in this circle of life?  Will there ever come a day when I will not feel as sad to see the transition of something that is dying, knowing that out of the dying, new life will circle around?

I have no immediate answers, mostly just questions.  I know I believe in the Resurrection.  And like we read in the First Letter of Peter, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever.”  I know I am grateful for the Word of the Lord which remains forever.

So, what about you?  How do you reduce stress?  And what questions do you ponder?  Feel free to share in the comments, if you would like.

Oh, and enjoy the photos of the living and dying that is happening around our house.  And that’s just the plants.

Posted in God Calling?

11 responses to “How Do You Reduce Stress?

  1. Thanks, Cathy! I, too, find that some physical activity (cleaning, exercise, cooking, playing music) can be a great help, allowing my mind to let go, relax, and converse with God.


  2. Thank you sharing the photos of your flowers. I understand what you mean about beauty and the circle of death and new life. It strikes me when working in the grade too.

  3. I love to lose myself in a book,or go for a walk to the park and look at nature,and meditate or have a hot fudge sunday or,look at my flower garden. Bunny O’Brien,opa

  4. I go walking or do some exercise, sit quietly by any body of water(little fake waterfall in our zoo) or clean by moving every piec of furniture to get rid of my stress.

  5. Cathy, what’s the but… with helping weed? I could use some help. :} Thanks for reminding me to look around and see the continual cycle of birthing and dying. I am part of it and sometimes run away.

  6. I go to a place that is quiet, close my eyes, recite a calming mantra, and then imagine white fluffy clouds, miles away, successively coming towards me, closer and closer, passing me, going behind me. My father used to take me through this “guided meditation” when I was a child. Then, he was the voice describing the beauty, safety and peace of the clouds as they moved in my mind. Now, I just need to visualize the clouds and I hear his reassuring voice.

  7. We all have stress, Cathy. I ask myself whether this is good stress, challenging me to become more myself. Or is it bad stress, where I am talking negatively to myself. Then, like yourself, I do some deep breathing, contemplative prayer,
    Journal, or do some activity that leaves my mind
    blank. Grateful for your reflections on the topic.

    Deep peace.

  8. Thanks Cathy for a practical, thoughtful article. I like to clean but usually feel like I am procrastinating rather than letting go of stress. However, it all works out and after cleaning I am able to better focus on whatever needs to be done .

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