Stress is a major topic right now. Covid-19 has affected the education of our children. It has negatively impacted our economy. It has crippled farmers and small businesses. It is exacerbated by the news and by social media and by our time of isolation from our “normal’ lifestyles. Obviously stress is as old as humanity itself, but in our generation it certainly seems that it has increased exponentially. Lets talk about stress and how to handle it.
Stress surfaces in a variety of ways. Change. Uncertainty. Failure. Busyness. Debt. Finances. Even different stages of life. Those who are young can face stress as easily as those who are older. Parenting has its unique stress as does middle age. It’s not called “middle-age-crisis” by accident! Getting older offers a lot of opportunities for stress as well.
Stress has a plethora of negative results. Physically it can produce weariness, heart issues, and high blood pressure. Emotionally it can cause discouragement, depression, frustration, and anger. Relationally it can cause damage because we often become short-tempered and irritable. It even has a negative effect sexually. Stress leads some to porn-addictions and adultery. Others it just damages their connection to their spouse. Vocationally, stress can result in poor job performance. It will also affect us spiritually and cause us to lose our joy and our peace.
Stress is often handled unwisely. Some just ignore it and hope for the best. In this scenario, we keep doing the same things in the same way with the same negative results. Obviously, that is unwise. Others will simply flee from the stress and end a marriage, have an affair, quit a job, or simply give-up on themselves and life. In a worse case scenario, some will even take their own life. Still others will complicate things by overeating, over-reacting, or becoming busier than ever. In each of these responses, the stress only becomes worse.
Stress can be handled wisely.
- Do an evaluation. Be honest with yourself. Are you being unwise? Are you handling things incorrectly? Are you making things worse?
- Pray. Set aside time to grow spiritually and to seek the peace that comes from God. Philippians 4:6-7 teaches us to “be careful for nothing (don’t be full of anxiety or care), but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God . . . will keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.” If you are burdened about needs and problems, then start praying. Fast a meal or two. Ask specifically. God really does care and He really does answer prayer.
- Be thankful. In the verse above our prayer is to be “with thanksgiving.” There is something about expressing gratitude that calms our spirit. An attitude of gratitude will calm and encourage our spirit. How often do you say the words “thank you?” How often do you take time to “count your blessings?” Doing so always makes a difference in our lives.
- Simplify. Spend less money. Spend less time on social media. Distance yourself from the steady diet of negativity that is included in news programs and talk shows. Get rid of debt. Sell the stuff you no longer use. Slow down. Most of our lives are way too complicated! Remember that “we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (I Timothy 6:7-8).
- Turn to God. Listen to the words of Jesus: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). For you that are believers, Jesus is telling you to bring your cares to Him. You matter to God! Get to Him. Yoke with Him. Let Him lead and guide you to His peace and rest! If you don’t know Jesus Christ – you can! He is a wonderful Savior who died for our sins and was raised from the dead. He offers forgiveness and spiritual, eternal, and abundant life. Call on Him and trust in Him. Believe that He is who He said and that He really did come to offer us “life, that [we] might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
This is certainly a time of great stress in many lives. Perhaps my thoughts above will encourage and strengthen you during this time. If I can pray for you, or with you, please send me a message. I would be glad to do so.
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,