Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Help with Stress: 3 Tips

One possible step to relieving stress is to truly think about the whole picture of the stressful situation. A person can be stressed about the thought of speaking in front of a group of people. This thought can consume their mind. But if they take a step back for a moment, they may see that however it goes, nothing much will change. For the brief moment in time during the presentation it could be difficult, but after it is over most people won't remember much of it or really don't require perfection of speakers.

Some people may think that stress is helpful in that it compels us to do necessary tasks. However, the reality is that often stress makes it harder to think and therefore the task might not be done as well, and not as much will be done because it's hard to take focus away from stress and put it on the next item on a to-do list.

It's the same with stress about life: Regaining perspective can help immensely. But it seems complicated, or how do you start? It can be scary, because part of it might be really seeing the reality of time and our place in it. Ecclesiastes says this over and over again. But there is the hopeful side. Unfortunately, you have to see the rough side before seeing the good news. It'll be quick though! I'll cover the rough side quickly, so no worries.

Step 1: Know that our lives, including what is stressing you out, are small pieces in God's great plan for the whole earth and time for his glory. It's humbling to think of this, but also can feel freeing when viewed alongside the following step that contains reminders of God's help in our lives.

Step 2: Remind yourself about these four facts about God:
  1. God is powerful and not against using people who are weak or who aren't sure they will be able to accomplish a task given to them.
  2. God can and does work all things, even difficult, draining ones, together for your good (Romans 8:28). He allowed what has happened to happen, and in the future we may see how something is used for good that we can't see now.
  3. God is full of love for you. I've heard people say "God must hate me" when things aren't going well for them. But that's not the truth. If we are Christians, God loves us and wants the best for us ("best" doesn't always necessarily mean worldly goods).
  4. God is beautiful beyond measure. "Gaze upon the beauty of the Lord" (Psalm 27:4, ESV). To be a part of his plan is amazing, even if it's a small part of his plan for the whole earth and time.
Step 3: Take time to evaluate four things that are physical that might very well affect you spiritually (it's hard to think about God's goodness and power when you're not feeling or thinking well due to lack of energy):
  • Are you eating enough food/calories? When we're stressed, it's easy to forget or not want to eat, but it will help us if we do.
  • Are you sleeping enough? Lack of sleep could make it hard to think and feel happy.
  • If there's a lot of clutter around you, I've heard it helps to clear the clutter around you. It's probably not possible to get rid of all clutter, but it's worth a try to fix that in a place or two.
  • Hobbies can clear your mind and help you realize and remember that life can be fun and we shouldn't always be so serious about things.
If some of your stress is due to worrying about what other people expect from you, my article on that might help you. You may also be stressed because of being too hard on yourself when you make mistakes, so it's stressful to imagine making another one. An article on that topic that Danny wrote might help you if that's the case.

I wish you all the best on your battle to be less stressed. God is willing to help and wants you to thrive and feel less stressed. We're still in this world and therefore will have to battle it at times. But keep up the good fight!
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