Managing stress

Some scalawag said, ‎”Cheer up, the worst is yet to come. Quit worrying about little stuff, wait for something really big.”  Let’s face it, stress is a part of our daily lives. Most stress is caused by three types of life-events that are real or imagined: a significant loss, a threat, or a major change in life, whether pleasant or unpleasant.  Any situation that upsets our normal routine in life can be stressful. Stress is not a new issue, and no one is immune to its effects. Although not all stress is bad, the stresses of 21st century life have been linked to ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and many other diseases. Authorities estimate that 80 to 90 percent of all illnesses are stress related.

Since we cannot avoid stress, we must learn to live with it, manage it, and mitigate its impact. Managing stress has become an important aspect of one’s overall health. The essence of stress management is choosing which stresses to get rid of and which stresses to keep. Stress is not pressure from the outside, but the physical reaction within your body that prepares you to meet life’s losses, challenges, or changes. Your stress response is based on the perception habits you’ve developed over a lifetime and whether you interpret an event as threatening or non-threatening.  Changing your perception and relabeling your experiences helps lessen stress.

A strong Christian faith can help manage stress by utilizing prayer, meditation, Christian fellowship, and belief in God’s goodness and promises. This allows you to have the proper perspective and lowers stress levels.

First, we must change our way of thinking by thinking positive and uplifting thoughts as this is key to our mental health. As the apostle Paul said, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).  In a world where there is so much negativity, think positive and have an uplifting attitude.

Second, learn how to make wise decisions. Many decisions are simple, while others are more difficult. Indecision and confusion increases tension and stress. Get the facts, seek counsel from professionals, and pray about your decisions.  The Bible reminds us to, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3 ESV).

Third, take care of yourself. Proper diet, exercise, rest, and interaction with others are all vital components of a healthy lifestyle.  The Bible recommends meditation, prayer, and worship as essential activities of a wholesome life. Paul compared life to running a race with obstacles to avoid before reaching the finish line, but in the end, those in Christ will be winners.