by Edmond Ng
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- casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NAS)
Proverbs 16:26 (NAS) states, "a worker's appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on." This in essence means hunger can help provide the necessary stress and motivation for people to work hard, although earthly desires can also do the same. Stress in itself is not evil. What we deem as stress, however, may not be a stress to another. Similarly, what helps us to de-stress may not help another.
Some months ago, I heard a sermon preached on the topic 'Managing the Stress of Life.' The speaker mentioned that stress can be driven by fear or material wants, and there is no need for us to be judgmental as to who or what is causing our stress. How we respond is what really matters because distress or eustress is subjective. While distress is the negative effects of stress, eustress is a stress that is healthy, and gives one the feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings.
The top five distresses in life, according to the speaker, are death of spouse, divorce, relationship separation, jail term, and death of a loved one. Some suggestions on how to manage stress include:
Avoid stress inducers. Learn to stop saying "yes," and start saying "no." If we cannot meet the deadline for a task requested, just say "no" or negotiate for a later date. Control the environment and do not spend too much time on the things that stress us. Rushing, for example, is stressful, so control and manage the time we have and try to eradicate rush altogether. Avoid things or people that upset us (Proverbs 13:20), and walk only with the wise, not with the fools, for bad company corrupts and can cause undue stress (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33).
Adapt to the stress. Our mental frame of minds should be opened to changes and adjust to expectations. Stressing ourselves and others does not help, and although expecting high standards is good, perfection is seldom possible so long we are here on earth. Do not be an absolute perfectionist without giving room for unexpected or occasional mistakes. Some of us may feel life is a battle, but even so we need to learn to defocus on the negative and change our perspective to see things differently and positively.
Accept the things we cannot change. Come to terms with whatever is changing or happening or have happened. Be still and acknowledge God is supreme and sovereign (Psalm 46:10; Jeremiah 29:11).
Add joy and laughter to life. A cheerful heart makes good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22). Do things that give us joy, and we will be able to manage our stress better.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Give ourselves a break regularly and eat healthily. We need to rest and stay healthy if we are to present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices acceptable to God (Romans 12:1).
Assess ourselves and the situation honestly. Sometimes it is our own fault or mistake. Take responsibility, confess and get help to address the problem (John 1:9), and then move on.
Apply God's word. Lay our foundation on the rock (Matthew 7:25; Luke 6:48), and meditate on God's word (Joshua 1:8). Commit all situations to the Lord (Philippians 4:6). Stop worrying (Matthew 6:27). Cast all our cares and problems on God (1 Peter 5:7). Rely on God's strength and fear not (Psalm 27:1). Have a peaceful and good sleep (Psalm 4:8).
Anticipate the future. For most assuredly there is a future, and our hope will not be cut off or be in vain (Proverbs 23:18).
Dear Lord, You know how frequently we are stressed over so many things. Calm us therefore Lord and grant us Your peace amid the distress we face. Help us not to be overcome by the stress of this world, but grant us the strength to prevail. Teach us to say "no" when no is needed, rather than always take what is given without thought. We know Lord all things are in Your control and within Your plans for us, therefore, we need not be afraid or feel distress, but with cheerful hearts do all things as for You rather than for men.
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Very well written article! I call stress that gives me positive feelings 'positive stress' and the other I call 'negative stress'. Distress is a great word. In the German language we use stress only to describe negative stress. In the English language you can use the word 'stress' to stress something important. I want to stress that positive stress isn't a negative experience but a very positive experience indeed. It even makes me more energetic and helps me accomplish more!:-)