What do you do when you feel stressed? Perhaps you brew a cup of coffee or steep a cup of tea and then steal away for a few minutes of silence. Maybe you play praise and worship music. Perhaps you treat yourself to a massage or pedicure, go for a walk, or phone a friend.
Or maybe you have a meltdown and yell things you later regret (been there). Maybe you procrastinate, hoping that putting off the inevitable will magically fix the problem. Perhaps you go to bed and try to sleep the stress away.
The reasons for our stress and the ways in which we deal with it vary with our personalities, backgrounds, and circumstances. Personally, when I’m feeling stressed, it’s usually caused by one of two things: work overload or concern for my family members.
When it’s my workload, I’ve usually dealt with it by writing out my daily to-do list and then asking God to enable me to accomplish the tasks that matter most to Him. However, my load has increased dramatically over the past couple of years as International Messengers Canada has grown. And so, I’m learning how to take practical steps to deal with the stress that’s accompanied it.
For instance, I’ve recently released three commitments. One meant ending a 10-year writing career with a Christian publication. This was particularly painful because I’ve enjoyed it so much, but I’m sensing God say “Let it go.” Streamlining hurts but it will enable me to evaluate and focus on the projects that God seems to be bringing my way now and to be most effective there.
When it’s my family, whether immediate or extended, I tend to feel more anxious inside. I wake up in the wee hours of the morning and lay awake trying to shove the what-ifs aside. It takes a lot of energy to refuse to entertain those fearful thoughts and to turn them to prayers instead, but expending that energy is necessary for the sake of my mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
This weekend I realized something negative about my response to stress. That is – I tend to tell others about how busy I am and how tight my schedule is. Where’s the benefit in sharing that information? Maybe there’s a subconscious something hoping to gain a pat on the back or a comment like, “Oh, poor you.” At any rate, I feel like the Holy Spirit has poked me with His finger of conviction and shown me that this is an area in which I need to grow. If you’re reading this and I’ve done this in your presence, please forgive me and hold me accountable next time I start to whine, okay?
The biggest help I’ve found in dealing with stress of any kind is to make a priority of spending time with God in His Word. That’s where I find my refreshment and strength. The Psalmist could identify. He wrote, “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands” (Psalm 119:143).
God’s Word continually reminds me of His sovereignty, His power, His wisdom and His unfailing love. Focusing on His character and promises brings me hope and cheer. Remembering who He is and that He’s more than able to do exceeding abundantly above anything I could ask or imagine brings me confidence. Like the Psalmist, I find joy in His commands.
How about you? How do you deal with stress? Do you have a particular Scripture that’s been helpful in dealing with stressful situations?