All of us every day is filled with different levels of stress. Regardless of occupation, age, social status or lifestyle we all experience the mountain of stress. We bring stress on ourselves from poor planning, saying yes too often or being disorganized. Stress can also arise from factors outside our control from others, weather, unexpected difficulty or sorrow and at those times, we can control only our reactions to them. Our reactions reveal our character and our trust in God. Stress is a normal part of life and can be positive in ways to stimulate creativity and productivity. However stress can also be negative with a person experiences pressure without relief or relaxation between challenges. Stress can come from perceptions about life situations such as worries about failure or perfection. Stress without relief can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, blood pressure, chest pain and sleeping problems. This is a big mountain to conquer and we all face this mountain at some point in our lives. This mountain can affect the body, mind and spirit and none of us are exempt from this climb. We must all learn to control stress or it will control us.
One of the first things I notice when I start having the symptoms of stress is I try to see what God’s purpose is through the difficulties I may be facing. God has a way of using certain situations to develop one of the fruits of the Spirit or teach us how to become more like Jesus. Sometimes we have to just “let go and let God” have control. This is not always easy when you really don’t want to change or think you can accomplish this alone. I always tell people if we don’t learn what is intended the first time, the circumstance comes around again forcing us to face the same mountain in order for us to choose a different effective path. I see many times people repeating the same path for years expecting a different result but never changing their path or way of thinking. Pride many times prevents us from changing.
Here are a few suggestions if you are facing a stressful situation right now in your life:
- Get alone with God. Plan quiet times in balance to a busy lifestyle. Cultivate a heart of prayer to see God’s perspective and to more fully experience His presence throughout the day. Take time to reflect on His Word.
- Sing and listen to relaxing music or praise and worship music.
- Pray. Many people expect prayer to change a stressful situation and when there is not immediate results it is not continued in fear God has not heard or His will is not in the matter. Although prayer does change things and circumstances in His timing, it also changes your heart.
- Share your burden with others. By talking about the things which brings you stress can bring relief and prayer support.
- Perhaps some of the stress is because you are doing too much. Learn to delegate some of your responsibilities to others.
- Stress has a way of focusing our attention on the things that are wrong in our lives. Guard your heart and mind against negativity and pessimism. Take time each day to check your thinking and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
- Stop majoring in minor things. Many times when under stress we see mountains instead of mole hills. Decide what is really important and choose your priorities and live for them. Learn to say “no” to things that are not so important. Accept your limitations and don’t overwhelm yourself with projects you know you can’t complete on time expected.
- Learn to laugh! Find time to be around joyful people, see a funny movie or read funny literature. Laughing stimulates the brain releasing the feel good hormones that combat stress.
- Spend time with your loved ones, your spouse and your family. Intimacy with spouse should not be limited.
- Exercise is a must!
Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death; heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. It is a big ugly mountain but it can be conquered through trusting and leaning on Jesus Christ.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.
We must allow the guidance and power of His Spirit to climb and conquer the mountain of stress. We may not be exempt from man’s corrupt nature or the venues of stress but through Jesus Christ it will not have dominion over us!