How do you handle stress?

Pastor Freed focused upon stress in people’s lives today with this quote in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words.

“It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable.”  (Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiIn)

Whether it is a real emergency situation or just pressure that you put on yourself. Too many people let stress get to them in ways that can ruin their health by giving them high blood pressure or other stress-related health problems. My dad had ulcers primarily because of stress. His reaction to stress was heartburn and he probably kept Tums and Rolaids in business. I occasionally suffer sleepless nights due to stressing about something – usually something that is beyond my control anyway. How do you handle stress?

As I’ve grown older, I have developed more ways to deal with stress without panicking or letting it keep me awake at night. A piece of advice from a friend during a time when I was stressing after the fact over something that I could have done better helps me now. He listened to me beating myself up for a few mistakes and said, “Nobody died.” That stopped me cold, as I realized that I was making something that was really trivial in the grand scheme of things into something stressful. He was right. Whatever small mistakes I had made had not caused anything serious – nobody died – and it really didn’t matter all that much. Many of the things in life that we stress about fall easily into that category.

There is another saying that I picked up somewhere – “When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” Unfortunately, that is the reaction that many have to stressful situations. It is a panic driven flight mechanism. Stressful situations require exactly the opposite reaction – a calm and logical approach that assesses the situation that allows one to plan their response to deal with it. If you can train yourself to go into planning mode instead of panic mode when faced with stress, you will be much better equipped to deal with life’s unexpected events. I’ve written here before about airplane captain Sully Sullivan’s response to the highly stressful situation that he faced when he lost both engines of his plane shortly after take-off. He said later that he had been training himself all his life for just that kind of moment.

One can train for dealing with stress by thinking ahead of possible situations that might occur, without letting that thought process become obsessive or disabling. Another thing that you can do to avoid stress is not to get down on yourself for things that you really can’t control. It recently rained where I live for three days in a row. It would have been easy to stress out about how that impacted things that I might have had planned, but what good would that do. Worrying about it would not have made the rain stop; it just would have made me more miserable.

One key to dealing with stressful situations is a thoughtful approach to them from a solid foundation in your life. That solid foundation is built on the strength of your belief in God. I won’t quote here the hundreds of Bible verses that could bring you comfort in times of stress, but the most helpful is from Matthew 28:20 – “I will be with you always even unto the end of the world.” You are not alone, and you have God on your side. What else do you need to reassure yourself that you will get through whatever stressful situation you are facing? You may not profit from misfortune, but you do not have to let it make you miserable either.

I cannot in good conscious wish you a stress-free day; that isn’t likely to happen; however, I can hope that you will take a better approach to dealing with that stress and still find a way to “Have a Great Day”.

One Response to How do you handle stress?

  1. John Freed says:

    I don’t know who said it, but I like it….A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF FLEAS MIS GOOD FOR ANY DOG.

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