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Don’t Stress Yourself!

Added by Holger Bergner on January 16, 2013. · No Comments · Share this Post

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Photo-credit-Jarvist-Frost-via-Photopin-CC

Stress affects your body and its ability to fight disease, to repair itself, and to stay healthy and strong. Stress is one of the big “joy killers” that God would like to see His children delivered from, as it can be detrimental to our health and strength if we let it go on indefinitely.

By Peter Lerwick, January 27, 2013:

Stress is a big problem in the world. It can be a cause for unhappiness, illness and even death. A recent news article said that 75 to 90% of doctor visits in developed countries could be traced back to a direct or indirect result of stress.

Faith is the antidote for stress‚ when it comes down to it. Faith and trust in God, that He has everything in His hands, that He is in control‚ that He will work everything out for good, automatically eliminates a lot of stress from our lives.

We trust the Lord about so many things, but there are always aspects of our lives that we are worrying about, or that we think is our responsibility to carry the burden, instead of giving it in prayer to the Lord and letting Him take care of it. If we let those burdens settle on us—whether physical, emotional‚ mental‚ or spiritual—eventually they will cause us stress. And long-term stress has had devastating effects on active Christians, whether new born believers, part time volunteers, full-time pastors or ministers—in some cases on their health, and in other cases on their spirit.

As we talk about stress in this article‚ we are talking about a very big topic. We’re not just talking about people who are obviously stressed on the outside. We’re also talking about those of us who have learned to look calm on the outside, but inside are immensely stressed. Those who have gotten out of the habit of having a balanced life, because they feel there’s constantly too much to do, and they don’t want to stop working because they “just know” that things will fall apart without them!

Some of us don’t know how to say “no” when it comes to more work than we’re realistically able to manage, we feel guilty if we stop and rest. We cut back on prayer, praise, and quality time with God and with His Word in favor of getting more work done.

There are many aspects and manifestations of stress, and I’m convinced that most of us have at least one or two areas where our lives have gotten out of balance, our perspectives have gotten skewed, because we’ve been carrying a big load—physical, spiritual, or emotional—for too long, without the breaks, balance, and trust in the Lord that would make our burdens light enough to bear. That’s stress.

Being busy but not stressed  

I think a common misconception is to equate stress with hard work‚ or to feel that some amount of stress is inevitable in our busy lives. You can be a very hard worker and not be stressed if:

  • You maintain a balanced life. Work when it’s time to work, play when it’s time to play, and above all, keep your time with the Lord sacred. If you go through a period that’s extra busy and you have to cut corners on your relaxation and fellowship with others, make sure that things slow down again when that project or time period is over. Don’t let it continue indefinitely, or keep stretching it out for “just a little longer.” That becomes an addiction to the fast pace‚ and is unhealthy.
  • You let the Lord carry the burdens. Your role is not to solve all the problems and do everything; it’s to be a little chess piece and let the Lord do the work for you by committing the heavy lifting to Him in prayer.
  • You exercise faith and praise and trust in the Lord in difficult and stressful situations. Yes, there are situations that are stressful; there’s no way around that. But stressful circumstances don’t mean that you have to be stressed. You still choose how you react to those circumstances. And in order to react well and keep from being stressed, you have to be practiced in using the spiritual tools of praise and gratitude, prayer, meditation to and trust in God. If you use them, they will rescue you and enable you to rise above, to see things with the Lord’s perspective‚ to have a clear vision of the priorities and to know what to do—and you won’t wind up stressed.
  • You know your limits and follow the Lord’s nudges to not try to do more than is healthy.
  • You learn to be realistic, and if you’re not realistic‚ you listen to others who are, and you let yourself be safeguarded so that you don’t wind up creating unnecessary stressful situations for yourself and those around you.
  • You regularly take times to stop and step back from the work, and don’t think about work, don’t try to continue working and get “just a little more” done. During these times, the Lord renews your perspective, you have fun, you rest physically, and you refill spiritually.
  • You need to find out what causes stress in your life, and how you can get rid of it.
  • In some cases that will mean letting some things go while you stop and take a needed break. In some cases it might mean doing less. In some cases it might mean having some needed changes in your mind and heart. Whatever God’s plan is for you in this, you’ll find that He makes it up to you many times over when you follow His nudges in your heart. Put Him on the spot!

You can live free from stress

There are many different causes and reasons for stress. A lot of stress comes from negative mindsets, rather than actual work deadlines. For example, worry, fear, concerns‚ unrealistic expectations, self-imposed pressure‚ pride, self-centeredness; these and many other negative mindsets contribute to or create stress. Stress affects your body and its ability to fight disease, to repair itself, and to stay healthy and strong.

Many believers and Christian workers are dedicated, high-powered individuals. If they are involved in ministry, they see the harvest ripe and ready for reaping. Their heart is broken for the plights of the needy. They want to do all that they can for the Lord. But again‚ what they need to realize is that their best is to realize that they don’t have to do it all and that it would be best to stay within the guidelines the Lord has given us for healthy living.

Some typical signs of stress are:

  • You cut back on your physical needs regularly‚ such as exercise, adequate sleep, time with others, getting proper nourishment, etc., in order to be able to fit in more work time.
  • You frequently feel discouraged and burdened because you’re not getting to all the work you feel you should be, and that discouragement makes it difficult for you to know how to prioritize your work.
  • You are rushed in your responses to others or in the decisions you make.
  • You often don’t take the time to adequately pray about something, because you’re trying to clear them out of your court as quickly as possible.
  • You find yourself being curt in your communications with others, and failing to think about the other person’s needs because you “don’t have time.”
  • You physically overextend yourself to the point of exhaustion and fatigue.
  • You have a hard time being honest with those you work with as to what you are capable of carrying and what is too much for you.
  • You agree to projects or further responsibility without really counting the cost, instead priding yourself on the number of things you can juggle and manage.

Spiritual Exercise: The cure for stress

Take regular, five-minute “time-outs” during the day. Ask God for personalized specifics as to what times and how many and He will show you. The idea is to bring your mind and spirit to a complete stop in the middle of your work for a short period of time‚ in order to reconnect your spirit with God’s.

This will feel like a difficult thing to do at first, but what it’s really doing is dealing stress a nasty blow, especially when you feel “driven” to work.

Take a few minutes of “get-away” time, wherever it is the most convenient for you.

Five minutes can seem like an eternity when you’re rolling full-steam ahead, but in reality, five minutes is really not that long. Start by taking a minute to praise God. Calm yourself and breathe deeply for a couple of minutes the fresh air of God’s Spirit. Then ask Him to speak to your heart and give you some heavenly perspective, and stay there for a full five minutes.

You’ll find that He‘ll will calm your spirit, give you solutions‚ and boost your work later on. It’s in general a good practice in learning to put aside work for a moment, thoughts of work, and feelings of responsibility toward your work.

Happy de-stressing and may God bless you with a calm mind and rested spirit!

Photo credit: Jarvist Frost via Photopin CC 

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