Turning Stress into Success, Part I
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight [direct your paths]."1
A "friend" invoices you for considerably more than his original quote. A family member is taken seriously ill and is in the hospital for months. Responsibilities and expenses soar. At the same time, you're in the middle of a major building project at your business for which you are responsible—and your loan falls through.
The result? Stress!
I know because these things all happened to me in the course of a single year. Stress is a normal part of contemporary living. We all have our share. Ignore it and it can take years off our lives. Accept it and deal with it creatively and we can turn our stress into success.
How can we do this?
First: Realize that some stress is helpful. It provides motivation. For instance, if it weren't for the stress of having to pay our bills—and eat—we may not want to go to work.
Second: Be aware that stress is only troublesome when it continues for too long or if there is too much of it.
I read about a ten-ton-limit bridge that had been serving a community very well for over fifty years. During the course of those years it had carried millions of tons of weight. But one day the driver of a logging truck ignored the ten-ton load limit sign. The bridge collapsed. Life is like that. All of us can carry our ten-ton load day after day, year after year, but only one load at a time. Overload us and we collapse, too.
Most readers will probably be familiar with the research Thomas Holmes has done on stress. He found that too much change at one time was the greatest cause of stress. An accumulation of 300 or more "life changing units" in any one year may mean an overload of more stress than an individual can carry. On his scale, death of a spouse equals 100 units, divorce 73, marital separation 65, marriage 50, major changes in finances 38, and so on (see note below). So in tough times, try not to make unnecessary changes.
Third: Recognize symptoms as early as possible.
Writing in Eternity magazine (now out of publication) Fred Stansberry talked about "stress-related diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart and respiratory diseases, migraines, allergies and a host of other psychological and physiological dysfunctions which are increasing at an alarming rate in our Western culture."
Other symptoms of stress have been listed as, "tense muscles; sore neck, shoulders and back; insomnia, fatigue, boredom, depression, listlessness, dullness; lack of interest; drinking too much; eating too much or too little; diarrhea, cramps, flatulence, constipation; palpitations-heart-skip; phobias; twitches; restlessness and itching."
To be continued...
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to do all I can to lessen my load and lower my stress level and learn to trust You in all situations—so that I can reasonably relax in the midst of the storms of my life. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
NOTE: "Test Your Level of Stress" at: http://www.actsweb.org/stress_test.php
1. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV).