Some of you are really stressed out.
Some of you admit it…and maybe your family, friends and coworkers are even tired of hearing about it. Some of you don’t really admit it. But your sleepless nights, stomach issues, and high blood pressure reveal what’s really going on.
Stress is deadly. Mayo clinic claims that it is the chief cause of early onset heart disease, along with a myriad of other health issues. Stress inhibits our bodies’ immune systems, complicates autoimmune diseases, accelerates hypertension, and triggers and inflames depression. And maybe the worst part about stress is that it obstructs those things that God has given us to alleviate stress itself: healthy relationships, a good night sleep, laughter, gratitude, and downtime. When you are stressed, these things don’t happen, and because of that, your stress increases.
But you don’t have to be stressed. God does NOT want you to be stressed!
Stress is supposed to be something that triggers our crisis mechanisms of the body to fix things. But when it is prolonged, it takes a chemical and physical toll on the body that destroys our health, corrupts our thinking, and damages our spirit.
So if you are stressed, what do you do?
- Get on a healthy eating and sleeping schedule. When God dealt with his stressed out prophets in the Old Testament, he first gave them food for nourishment and had them sleep for rejuvenation. Don’t say you can’t. You can. It’s a priority and until you do, your unhealthy lifestyle is only making things worse. If you want to deal with the things that are stressing you out, get yourself as physically healthy as you are able to. If you are unwilling to start eating and sleeping right, you’ll suffer from this stress issue for the rest of your life. So start with eating healthy meals on time, and going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
- Get away and pray. When I say, “get away,” I mean, “Get away from what is familiar to you.” You can do this for at least for a couple of hours (could be as simple as sitting at church or at the mall), and spend time communing with God, asking him to give you clear thinking and direction on how he wants you to live your life and deal with the problems you think you are facing.
- Write out all the things that are stressing you out. In that list, mark those things that you have control over and those things you have no control over. Then separate those things in columns or separate lists.
- Give both to God. Ask him for direction, energy and courage to go after and tackle the things you have control over. The things you have no control over, tell him that there’s nothing you can do and that you will trust him to deal with those things however he sees fit, and that you will accept his will. Then…rip up that list of things you have no control over, relinquishing them to the Lord.
- Pursue your relationships. Love and enjoy your spouse, your kids, your friends…whoever God has in your life. They are way more important than whatever it is that is stressing you out. Spend time with them. Listen to them. Learn everything you can about them (not insisting they pay attention to your problems). Find creative ways to be a blessing to them.
- Enjoy God’s blessings. In your stressed out state, you’ve forgotten how blessed you are! Think about God’s goodness. Find joy in the life he’s given you. Figure out reasons to laugh and smile. Spend time expressing gratitude to him and others for the big and little blessings.
If you actually do all this, you’ll be surprised how the stress you thought you were under is instead a smokescreen from the evil one to keep you from honoring God and loving others. When you are actively doing those things, that fog dissipates and the joy of life replaces it.
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 NLT