Does your life often teeter on the brink of physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion? One more interruption or delay, one more problem can send you tumbling over the edge.
We try to juggle the demands of home, church, work, and family life, but often in the process become worn out, stressed out, and eventually we can burn out.
Stress not only dampens our spirits and frazzles our nerves, but the constant rush of adrenaline over stimulates the heart and can weaken the immune system, leaving us prone to more illnesses and stress-related problems. We don’t have to live this way. Let’s start today learning how to manage our stress so that our stress doesn’t overwhelm us.
Look for what God is up to: James 1:2-4
One of the best antidotes to stress is seeing God’s purposes in the difficulties He allows in our lives. James counsels us that we are to consider it all joy when we face trials of various kinds, because they will produce something good in us (James 1:2). The “good” God wants to do is to conform us to the image of Christ. He may use certain situations to develop one of the fruits of the spirit in us. Remembering that God uses every situation, even the petty, irritating situations of life, to teach us to become more like Jesus, helps us to feel less stressed by things we cannot control.
Take time each day to be
Planned times of quiet and solitude are a good balance to a busy life. Cultivating a heart of prayer helps us see God’s perspective and to more fully experience His presence throughout the day. Many of us use prayer as a way to change a stressful situation. Although this is not a bad idea, prayer often does not change the situation as much as it changes us. As we purposely quiet our hearts each day, the Holy Spirit has a chance to change the way we see our difficulties. That may be just what we need in order to better cope with our situation.
Guard our hearts: Proverbs 4:12
Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid. Stress has a way of orienting us toward the things that are wrong in our lives. We need to guard our hearts and minds against negativity and pessimism. There are times when we will not understand God or His ways, but He gives us enough information about His character that even when we do not understand or are confused, we can rest in His faithfulness and holy goodness. Meditate on Psalm 86:5, “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.”
Live intentionally: Psalm 90:12
Sometimes we get stressed out because we are majoring in minor things. At the end of our life, many of us will realize that we have spent most of our time on what matters least, and the least time on those things that matter most. We need to decide what is really important, choose our priorities, and live for them. Life is full of choices. When we become more intentional about the way we spend our time and energy, we learn to say no to things that are just not that important.
Remember your limits: Psalm 103:14
Often our lives become filled with stress because we refuse to accept our limits. We are not God. We are not all-knowing or able to assume total control. We are human beings. We need to sleep, eat, and relax. Yet, at times we live our lives in a way that ignores these realities, which can result in a host of stress-related ailments. When we are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps that is a reminder that we are not living within the limits and boundaries that God has created for us. It may be time to reevaluate, cut back, say no, or slow down.
Cultivate a thankful heart: 1 Thessalonians 5:18
We must learn to count our blessings every day. Many of us must work to see the good in life and to cultivate a grateful heart. As we do this, we will feel more positive and the little things that go wrong will cease to look so important.
Stress can affect the body, mind and spirit. We must pay attention to each area to reduce the effects of stress on our overall well-being. If we do not learn to control stress, it will eventually control us. To protect our bodies, we need to get adequate rest, exercise regularly, eat well, and learn to breathe deeply. To protect our minds, we should think truthfully, refuse to make mountains out of molehills, and set priorities. Finally, to protect our spirits we need to meditate on God and His Word, learn to trust God, pray without ceasing, practice thankfulness, and stop feeling guilty for saying no!