Stress Is Not All Bad
By Traci Lawrence
We often hear the quote, “The only certainties in life are taxes and death.” This is not completely correct because it leaves out the certainty of stress in life.
What is stress?
The term 'stress' refers to the response
you have when facing circumstances that force you to act, change, or adjust in some way to maintain your footing, or to keep things balanced. Considering this definition we can see that stress is not always bad. That stress has the potential to actually help us in some way.
Development, growth, purification, perfection and strength all require some type of stress or resistance.
Some examples of this : A tree is strengthened by strong winds. The tree responds to strong winds by growing deeper roots. Muscle strength and growth results from a muscle facing and moving some type of resistance or weight, bones are strengthened by resistance training because the bone responds to that stressor by increasing bone density, Studying, doing homework and research is a stressor, it is difficult, but our knowledge is developed through this process.
We could list several other cause and effect relationships relating to stress. But to sum up what I am trying to say, “Stress is part of our life, and it can be a positive part of our life” Always avoiding or fearing it keeps us from using it for our good.
Stress in and of itself is not a bad thing, it is how we respond to it that causes problems. If stress is chronic or excessive with out being relieved, managed or rested from problems can arise. Too much of anything can be harmful. Too much food can to lead to weight gain and health risks. Too much spending can lead to debt. Too much exercise can lead to injury or burnout. Too much working can lead to strained relationships and poor health. Too much time with God…..there is no such thing.
Like drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, etc…we can also get addicted to stress just like anything else. The more we deal with and respond to stress (good or bad) if frequent enough these responses begin to feel like a normal part of our existence. If we are around it too much for too long we adapt to being stressed. When the time comes that there are no stressors in our life we can almost feel lost or depressed because nothing is stressing us or requiring our thoughts, time, response or energy. So then we seek out stress to feel alive, to feel useful or productive. What a sick bunch we are.
Rather than trying to eliminate stress which is an exercise in futility, because it is inevitable in our lives on planet earth, we all would benefit from managing how we respond to our personal stressors.
Identify what stresses you. Everyone has different things that cause them stress. The next time you are feeling stress try to identify what person, event or thought caused the stress. Honestly decide if and how you can respond and consider the outcome of your response. You may not have any control over some circumstances and people. In that case you might just have to grin and bear it and remind yourself that stress cannot always be eliminated, people or circumstances cannot be changed, but somehow, someway this stressful event can help you develop in some area of your life. Maybe just the development of patience.
Be aware of your personal response to stress. All of us respond to stress in different ways. Some people make short, bitter and sarcastic remarks, some have angry outbursts, many experience a quickened heart rate and tight chest. You may have a hard time concentrating or making decisions, feel irritable or out of control, smoke or eat more, experience headaches, muscle tension or a lack of energy or cry for no apparent reason.
Develop and use a list of healthy responses to stress. The discovery of running and exercise was a life changing event for me. Not only did this gift help deliver me from a dangerous addiction and life controlling issue, it also provided a terrific stress and anger management tool for me. Is it easy? Heck no!!!, But the time and energy that it requires are more than worth it. My family thinks so to. Going for a walk, run, bike, ride, swim or taking your dog for a walk are free events that are wonderful for stress management. Other options include: strength or resistance training, a stretching & flexibility class, Zumba or self defense class, going golfing, playing tennis or working in the yard. Reaching out to a supportive friend or family member might provide a stress management tool for you. Journaling is also helpful to some.
Identify what is important to you, your family or business. Aside from our work most of us make our schedules. In our busy lives, over commitment, kids ball practice, parties, dance lessons and big purchases that require extra hours to cover can take our time, energy and peace hostage. Each of us needs to identify what is important to us and our family and eliminate activities that do not promote or protect those things. You do not have to be all things to all people. Choose your battles.
Rest, Renew & Replenish. In order to drive our automobiles we know they must have fuel. Our kids, plants and pets all need food and water to grow and survive. Even our cell phones must have the battery charged in order to operate. Where did we get the idea that we are any different. Each of us must make it a point to get adequate sleep every night. This is best accomplished by trying to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Also important is making sure that our food choices are nutritionally dense so our bodies get what they need. We should also make time for recreation and a little fun. This obviously is different for everyone, but it shouldn’t put a financial burden on you or your family because financial concerns are one of the biggest stressors that people complain about. Schedule some fun on your weekly planner. Having fun and laughing is important for your wholeness.
Appreciate down time. We all live in such a busy world with so many demands that we feel guilty when we are not producing or being busy. We also have constant stimulation around us with televisions, computers, iPhones, Facebook, and Twitter. This stimulation can be good and enjoyable but sometimes we need to disconnect from all stimuli and learn to be content with doing nothing. Go for a walk……without music, and enjoy the sky, talk to God, think about happier times, cry if you need to, but have some alone quiet time where you do not have to respond, meet anyone’s needs or answer any silly questions.
Remain hopeful. No one can change what's happened in the past, but you can always look toward the future. Reminding yourself that change and good can result from stress can help keep you determined and sometimes provide energy for the difficulties at hand. This can help us view new challenges with less anxiety.
Be proactive. Don't procrastinate or ignore your problems or try to wish them away. It is more beneficial to identify what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Putting off those difficult and unenjoyable tasks causes things to pile up which can cause us to feel overwhelmed. It is better to face things head on and complete tasks in a timely manner and as they present themselves. How do you eat an elephant? ….. one bite at a time. I know nobody probably has elephant on their menus, I’m just trying to point to a principal here.
Take it to God. Your personal beliefs are just that, yours. No one can force you to believe anything, and God doesn’t want anyone to force you to believe. He does however want His believers to share the good news. The good news is: Jesus is the answer… period! There is no problem too hard for Him to solve, no debt too large for Him to eliminate, no addiction too big for Him to crush. He is the Creator of all mankind, what better source to go to than the One who created us, loves us with an unending love and who provided a way for us to have eternal life with Him in Heaven. God has offered the invitation have you accepted it?
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
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