How to control stress before it controls you.
Stress is a funny thing.
The more I think about stress the more I stress out. However, if we never learn to confront our stress and try to gain control over it, we will ultimately be controlled by it. It’s a conundrum that many are faced with, yet many don’t do anything about.
We all will experience a lot of stress in our life. I remember as a student in High School I thought the majority of my stress would be alleviated when I: graduated High School, entered college, got married, had a full-time job, graduated college, bought my own house. . .and the list goes on. What I have come to find out is not only has stress remained, but it seems to have found a way to fill the earth and multiply.
My point is that stress is not going anywhere. It is a part of life, we just have to learn how to manage it and use it to our advantage. C.S. Lewis said it this way: “pain is God’s megaphone.,” and some of us are hard of hearing. We ignore physical, mental, and spiritual warning signs. God wants us to tune our ears to the messages He sends through our minds and bodies.
Do you feel stressed?
Maybe that is God trying to get your attention. This is not a claim that God created the pain you are feeling, but rather he uses it strengthen his relationship with us. There is only one way a muscle grows—through stress. A muscle that is rarely exercised atrophies; it shrinks into uselessness. A muscle seldom stretched beyond its usual limits can only maintain itself. It cannot grow. To grow, a muscle must be taxed. Unusual demands must be placed upon it.
Let’s spend a moment to list some common practices to alleviate and/or manage your stress:
Go on a walk.
Journal your thoughts.
Spend time in silence.
Repeat the Lord’s Prayer.
Resolve relationship problems.
Learn to say no.
Take your spouse on a date.
Take a 24hr-break from social media.
Go to the gym.
Read through a Jesus story.
Play with your kids/grandkids.
Get rid of some stuff you don’t need.
Take a nap, even if you’re busy.
There is a frightening pattern that occurs when we don’t learn to manage our stress properly. It can be broken down into a three-part cycle: stress to escape to guilt and back to stress. “
“Escapism” is the most common coping mechanism when it comes to dealing with our stress. I saw a recent TV commercial emphasizing this point. It pictured a harried father, who in the midst of kids making a mess, the plumbing going out, and his wife “pestering him,” strolls out to his new car. Once inside his “oasis,” he leans back in his leather seat and closes his eyes as the sound system drowns out the tapping of his daughter on the driver’s window.
Sad, isn’t it? But don’t blame this on our generation. As I have stated elsewhere, this is not a generation problem, but a human problem. During a raging storm, Jonah slept in the bottom of a small ship to escape his responsibility to go to Nineveh.
Alcoholism, overeating, overworking, binge-watching, and obsession with sex are just a few attempts we make to escape the reality of our world. Instead of dealing with the pain head-on, we try to escape.
Stress will always find you, no matter how well you try to hide from it. Instead of hiding, recognize the things that are causing stress spikes in your life and deal with them head on.
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” - C.S. Lewis.
We are all changing into something different. . .you just need to make sure it’s into something better.