There never seem to be enough hours in the day. Although I'm up at (what feels like) the crack of dawn each day, by the time I finally collapse on the couch I'm still running behind schedule, letting people down, and getting nothing done. Even though I'm exhausted each night sleep rarely comes and my mind never seems to shut off.
The term “stress” is an understatement. You tell me how to successfully navigate through a life like mine. I bet you can't. I'm this close to my breaking point nearly every step of the way and if things don't slow down soon I just might crack.
I've stopped talking about how exhausted and drained I feel because people are always so quick to offer solutions rather than the listening ear I'm hoping for. “Get counselling,” they say. Or, “Talk to your doctor about something to help you sleep.” Friends are supposed to sympathize, not tell me I'm failing at life and can't do it on my own.
Stress is that state that occurs when we are pushed away from a state of mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical equilibrium. Good or bad things can be stressors therefore stress is unavoidable. Anything that stresses one aspect of our being affects our total being.
The greatest stressor in our life is our sin separating us from the God of peace and this affects every aspect of us.
God's answer to stress is recreation (re-creation). He makes us new creations in Christ, recreated when we receive Christ as our Saviour. In Him God provides us with rest for our souls (Hebrews 4:9-11); Jesus offers personal rest through knowing and obeying Him (Matthew 11:28-30). This is the foundation for thinking and acting biblically, which is the key to managing stress.
- Ultimate true rest begins with a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Admitting we have strayed from God and returning to Him by trusting Christ as Saviour is the beginning of stress management. Trusting and obeying God is the ultimate antidote to stress. When we sin we must confess, repent, and be restored in our fellowship with Him to avoid the stress caused by guilt and unconfessed sin.
- Understand that stress tends to accumulate. The more an action or sin is repeated the greater the stress it produces. Stress builds until something gives way. Then we finally burn out, break down, or blow up. Regularly relieving stress avoids accumulation.
- Breaking actions that produce stress begins in the mind by not dwelling on false expectations or wrong subjects, confessing sinful thoughts and actions, and deliberately thinking on what is true and right (Philippians 4:8). Negative stress is rooted in not thinking biblically and theologically. Seeing and responding to life from God's perspective reduces stress.
- Because God made us as unified beings comprised of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional aspects we need to approach stress management in multiple ways:
- Having a daily time of prayer and Bible reading provides the opportunity to deal with sin, feed our soul, and find rejuvenation for our spirit (Isaiah 40:30-31).
- Being sure to get the proper amount of rest provides for refreshing and renewal. The provision of the Sabbath was for this purpose. The Sabbath principle still holds true today (Exodus 20:10-11). Rest is an activity too!
- Emotions should not be repressed but need to be expressed and released in a healthy, non-destructive way. Participating in active recreation gives an outlet for pent-up physical, emotional, and mental tensions.
- Taking time to relax and move our bodies and brains in a different direction than they do normally relieves stress for our physical and mental processes. Engaging in a different kind of activity than you are used to is refreshing.