You may have heard these words from a friend when you’ve shared your stress issues: "You need to give your burdens to God." If only it were that easy. Life can be challenging and complicated at times. As a believer, we know God is in control but that doesn’t make us immune to stress or the pressures of life.
Stress and anxiety is a real life, sometimes crippling challenge. It can be subtle and easily managed or debilitating as a full-blown panic attack. When we take on too many responsibilities, face times of grief and tragedy or our circumstances spin out of control, we become overwhelmed and feel stressed. Regardless, stress can wear us down physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What sets us apart is how we deal with tragedy, setbacks and pitfalls in life. When stress is not dealt with once it occurs it begins to pile up. It’s easy to crawl in a deep black hole and do nothing. Doing nothing doesn’t make it easier or make it go away, it can actual makes matters worse.
In order to keep yourself grounded in clarity, focus on what steps to take and meet your issues head on, we need to be armed with a plan for dealing with it.
1. Acknowledge your problem: Ignoring or procrastinating a problem isn’t a good way to handle it. If you know something is seriously wrong, the fastest way to the solution is to admit to yourself you have a problem. Sometimes it's not easy to admit you're barely hanging on by a thread and can't seem to manage your own life. Take a deep breath, let out slowly and admit you need help.
2. Get help: Now that you've identified the problem you can take steps to care for yourself and get the appropriate help you need. Insomnia is common when dealing with stress but if you're not getting enough rest, you can’t restore your physical body. Many gain and lose weight during hard times. Proper diet, getting regular exercise, and learning how to balance work and family time is a good start. You may need to find a support system of friends who have "been there done that" and understand what you're going through. If working through a loss or tragedy, you may need to step back from your normal responsibilities and give yourself a break. Mourning a devastating loss is all part of the healing process.
3. Get a Checkup: You may need to look at underlying issues that could be causing it difficult to deal with your problems. You could have underlying hormonal, chemical, or physiological reason for your stress. You may need to see a doctor to work through the causes and cures for your anxiety. These are all practical ways to regulate stress in our lives. Don't neglect the spiritual side of the matter.
4. Meditate/Turn to God in Prayer: I find that it's almost impossible to be stressed and praise God at the same time. More than ever when you're overcome with loss, anxiety or stress you need to Meditate on the word and turn to God. He is your ever-present help in times of trouble. He is called Prince of Peace because when we come to him in prayer he gives us a comforting promise that as we pray, our minds will be protected by an inexplicable peace. God promises to give us peace beyond our ability to understand: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which ascends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7)
5. Refocus/Calming Tips: Calming yourself takes effort. We can take our minds off of ourselves and our problems if we focus on other’s needs. It’s hard to deal with other people’s problem when we have a hurtful pile of our own however, it works. Help a friend, cook a meal for someone in need, lend an ear or a hand. This not only takes our mind gently away but helps us refocus on how to deal with our own problems and stressors. Suddenly our problems seem small in light of other’s pain and suffering. Music is also soothing to the soul. Next time you're feeling stressed, try turning up the tunes and see if your stress doesn't begin to lift. Essential Oils defusing can also calm your nerves. Studies have found that lavender oil aromatherapy calms the nervous system, lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature as well as changing brain waves to a more relaxed state.
With lives ever changing challenges as well as opportunities we all need to take a step back and a leap of faith when faced with stress taking us out of our comfort zone. When my son passed away I never imagined any healing ability passed the current state I was in. Life is a journey of ups and downs, pains and pleasure, obstacles and opportunities. Try following these steps regardless of how hopeless you may feel. You might be surprised how high you can rise from the depths of your pain.