Turning Stress into Success, Part II
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."1
To overcome stress, as we said yesterday, first realize that some stress is helpful. Second, be aware that stress is only troublesome when it continues for too long or if there is too much of it. And, third, recognize symptoms as early as possible.
Fourth. Identify causes. As already mentioned, change is one of the chief causes of stress. An accumulation of life's everyday annoyances can also build up a significant stress level—perhaps even more than one single traumatic event. As the old saying puts it:
It's the little things that bother us,
and put us on the rack;
you can sit upon a mountain,
but you can't sit on a tack.
Whatever the cause of your stress is, identify it so you can do something about it.
Fifth. Seek a practical cure.
1. The starting point to turn stress into success is to lessen your load. Fifty percent of the cure can come from writing down all your cares and responsibilities in order of priority, then eliminating the least important.
2. Remember that Superman and Superwoman exist only in comic books and films. Everybody has a breaking point, so recognize yours and call a halt before you reach your limit.
3. With stress come pent-up feelings. Get them "off your chest" by sharing them with a trusted friend or counselor. This brings some immediate relief and helps you to think and plan more objectively.
4. Stop fighting situations that can't be changed. As one father told his impatient teenager, "If you would only realize and accept the fact that life is a struggle, things would be so much easier for you." Learning to live with and get on top of struggles is what helps us grow and mature.
5. Try to avoid making too many major life changes during the course of a single year.
6. If you hold resentment towards another person, resolve your difference right away. Never "let the sun go down while you are still angry."2
7. Make time for rest and relaxation. Learn to "come apart and rest awhile before you come apart."
8. Watch your diet and eating habits. When under stress we tend to overeat—especially junk food which increases stress. A balanced diet of proteins, vitamins, and fiber, without white sugar, caffeine, too much fat, alcohol and nicotine, is essential for lowering stress and its effects.
9. Get plenty of physical exercise. This keeps you healthier and helps burn up excess adrenaline caused by stress and its accompanying anxiety.
10. The ultimate answer to turning stress into success is to learn to trust God and live in harmony with His will for your daily life. As our Scripture verse for today says, "Don't worry about anything, instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand."1
God's peace comes through accepting, and trusting to God, those circumstances that can't be changed, however difficult they may be. Perhaps this is what Christ meant when He spoke of taking up our cross daily and following Him. Certainly He fully accepted His cross and trusted His situation to God and thereby was totally vindicated.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, again today, I commit and trust my life and way to You. Please help me to live in harmony with the principles for daily living as found in Your Word, the Bible. And help me to remember even in my darkest hours, that my times are in Your hands and, like David, help me to trust and not be afraid. 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. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT).
2. See Ephesians 4:26 (NIV).