How do you handle stress?

September 24, 2021

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”.

Where will you spend the rest of your life?

March 14, 2018

“My interest is in the future, because I’m going to be spending the rest of my life there.”   (Charles Kettering) – from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write about Kettering, who was an inventor and a bit of a futurist.

Where do your interests lie? Are you stuck in the past, reminiscing about or lamenting over things that have happened in your past? Some things that we may have experienced are so strong (the word traumatic is often used) that we find it hard to put them behind us and move on. That happens a lot with soldiers who’ve been involved in wars. The term “post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS)” was invented to explain and label thisdepression 6 condition. PTSS is a leading cause of suicides among soldiers returning from prolonged or repeated duty in war zones.

In the past there was not a convenient terms to use to describe people suffering from the debilitating effect s of war; so, people often talked of someone being “shell shocked” or used the term “the fog of war” to describe their behavior. However it was described, it was (and is) a condition that does not allow the person to function normally in the present, due to the memories of overwhelming events in their past. People who’ve been through natural catastrophes such as tornadoes or floods may experience a similar impact on their lives. Sometimes the death of a loved one has a similar impact.

I’m sure that psychologists and psychiatrists have lots of ways to both explain and attempt to treat PTSS. Some cases seem to be fairly mild and involve mainly becoming mentally stuck in the era of the events. I know of a few Viet Nam era vets who still walk around in their bush hats and camouflage clothing and love nothing more than talking about where they were “back in the day.” They haven’t been able to let go of that experience and move on.

depression 5Perhaps you haven’t been through anything in life as traumatizing as deployment into a war zone; however, we all have had events in our lives that were (at the time anyway) somewhat traumatizing. Those “how can I go on” moments helped shape our lives. For most there was the “ah ha” realization that, as bad as it seemed at the time; it didn’t kill us and we made it through the event. Perhaps the pain was real or maybe just deeply emotional; but we survived and life went on. It is our ability to compartmentalize and rationalize things that happen to us that helps us get through them and go on with life.

For many, it is the ability to turn to their faith to see them through life’s tough moments that makes all of the difference. One of the hallmarks of PTSS is a feeling of loneliness; of thinking that no one understands you and what you’ve been through. It is in those moments of loneliness that one’s faith in God’s assurances can make the most difference.helping hands

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

You are never alone. God is always right there with you. He got you through the trauma and He is pointing your towards your future. Wouldn’t you rather spend the rest of your life there, in the future, rather than dwelling on the past? Don’t look back. Let go of your past and walk with God into your future.

Where will you spend the rest of your life? Look to God and see your future.

What’s in your anti-stress kit?

December 15, 2016

Recently Jack Freed had this post on his blog, Jacks Winning Words

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”  (Lily Tomlin)  In a devotional book I use, an anti-stressJack Freed kit is described for those who need “relief.”  It contains a rubber band (be flexible), a candy kiss (everyone needs a kiss–encouragement), a life-saver (be a helper), an eraser (we all make mistakes) and a toothpick (pick out the good things in others and in yourself).  Other stress relievers: Eat wisely, breathe deeply, shake and dance…and watch TV (not the news).    😉  Jack

 We all need an anti-stress kit of our own; some things relieve stress just by looking at them or maybe doing them. Some things help us break the hold of stress on our lives, if only for a moment. I have posted here before that I often make a funny face in the mirror in the morning while getting ready for the day as a way to start off the day in a better, less serious and less stressful way. Jack’s advice that adds dance to the anti-stress Snoopy joykit reminds me of Snoopy of the Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy often would break into his care-free happy dance, much to the chagrin of Lucy. Eventually his infectious joy would crack even her facade of stressful seriousness. We all need more Snoopy-like happy dancing in our lives.

What makes you forget about the stress of the day and be happy and maybe break into your happy dance? I find that my two dogs help me a lot. It’s hard to remain grumpy and stressed out when they come bounding at me just trying to share their unconditional love as I return from work. We go on four walks a day and those turn out to be four of the most peaceful and stress free times of my day. Maybe a pet is in your kit.

Other than the items mentioned above, what can you think of that might make it into an anti-stress kit? I might  include:

  • One of those little teddy bears that have “I am loved” stitched onto their little sweaters. It forces us to think of those we love who also love us, no matter what.
  • A favorite love song or the “our song” that you and a loved one share
  • Your favorite pair of worn old jeans. Nothing disassociates you from the stress of the business world like getting home and putting on your old jeans (an maybe having a glass of wine, too).
  • A hug – I’m not sure how you would put a hug in your kit – maybe just a little sign that says “go hug somebody.”
  • A quiet corner somewhere. Stress seems to make us hyper-sensitive to the noises and chatter going on all around us and a quiet place allows us escape the din and relax a bit.
  • A time out timer. Maybe it would help to give yourself a 5-10 minute time out by using one of those little timer gadgets that you can get for almost nothing these days. A key to heading Lilly Tomlin’s advice from Jack’s blog post is to stop, take some deep breaths and then to proceed more slowly.

So, what would be in your anti-stress kit?

There’s one item not mentioned above that is really like the Penicillin of stress relief and that is the Bible. Most of the things mentioned above just take your mind off the stress and hold it at bay for a while. Reading the Bible can actually destroy the stress by putting the things that cause that stress into the right perspective and providing the reassurance that no matter what, it’s going to be OK.

Reading the Bible allows you to get to that place where you off-load the stress to God. Youreading-bible may find comfort in the words of Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you can get to that peace, you will realize that the stress is gone. So, make sure that a Bible is in your stress relief kit.

Make your own little stress-buster kit and keep it with you, so that you can drag out the list when you need it and think about the things that make you happy. Use your anti-stress kit and have a wonderful and stress-free rest of the week.

Don’t be stressed; think blessed…

May 12, 2016

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought for the day – “Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.”  (Gratitude  Gratitude Habitat is an online site where people can share blessings they’ve received and inspiration that has come to them.

mind at workOne could start by asking what it is that you might be stressing about. For most that might be something left undone at work or at home, some possession that you don’t have or can’t afford, some bills that you don’t know how you are going to pay, some person that you haven’t met yet, something new that you’ve never tried before, or maybe a decision that you have to make that you just aren’t sure about. All of those things have something in common – they are about the unknown (one might say for many about the unknowable). We all tend to stress when we get outside of our comfort zone and face the unknown.

Today’s inspirational little saying is trying to get us to stop worrying (stressing) about the unknown (and unknowable) ad focus instead focus upon on being happy with what we have, what we know. There is another little popular saying, “it is what it is”; which I’ve opined about here as being to passive for my tastes. I’ve suggested the alternative view of “it is what we make of it”. Taking that approach doesn’t mean that we spend time stressing about it; but, rather, that we proactively pursue whatever resolution is required sluggoto make it what we want it to be. The foundation of that approach to life it to first be happy with what you have, with where you are and with who you are – to remember and be thankful how blessed you already are.

Building upon that base you can then ask God for help with the things that you would still like to do or to provide for yourself or your family. There’s nothing wrong with having those kinds of goals in life and pursuing them, but they are not worth become points of stress in your life. If you start your daily prayers by giving thanks for the blessings that you already have and perhaps that will help put the things that you don’t have, but want, in better perspective and take some of the stress out of your pursuit of them.

So, spend some time counting your blessings each day, before you get to the tasks needed to achieve or get the things that you don’t have.

Don’t get on your own nerves…

April 30, 2015

“You know you’re really stressed when you start getting on your own nerves.”  From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Sometimes I’ll do something stupid (more times than I care to admit) and then beat myself up about it. I suspect that we all do that from time to time; however, that’s really not a case of getting on my own nerves. I’m not sure that I’ve been stressed enough on get on my own mad at himself

I think today’s little saying has to do with people who talk to themselves a lot, but may not enjoy the conversations. Maybe it involves long conversations about self-doubt or perhaps just fears. Maybe the dialogues involve trying to talk yourself into or out of something that you are considering doing. I can see how that can become annoying after a while; especially of you let it go into the mode of beating yourself up about it.

It seems to me that stress builds or a situation becomes stressful, when you have no idea what to do about the situation or what to do next. Not knowing what will come next or what to do next fill you with anxiety, which can easily morph into stress. Then you may make the situation worse by getting down on yourself for not knowing what to do – not having a plan. Some situations do not lend themselves to easy or straightforward solutions. Some things are not easy to map out, understand and see a way towards a solution; however, shifting gears into solution finding mode is one of the best ways out of that stress and helps keep you from getting on your own nerves.

So, my advice is to shift into problem-solving mode. I’ve written here about that before – see

By switching gears from reaction mode into the action mode of problem solving you immediately regain a sense of control, if not control over the situation, at lease control over yourself and your reaction to the situation. You can then focus upon going through all of the steps to finding a solution.

girls huggingMany times you may be in situations where you can’t figure things out by yourself and the advice of others would be helpful. I wrote about that, too –

Sometimes you will hit stressful situations for which there is no solution. In those cases the best answer is not to continue the frustrating dialogue with yourself; but, rather to let go, admit that you will not resolve the situation by continued worry about it and seeking the peace that comes with turning to God for help. I wrote about that in –
So, don’t let things and stress go so long that you end up getting on your own nerves – take action, or ask a friend for helpsmiling man or find refuge in your faith  all of those dialogues will make for much more positive and helpful conversations that just getting on your own nerves.

Be blessed, not stressed…

March 10, 2015

“Too blessed to be stressed!”  (Seen on a coffee mug), from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

The concept of being “blessed” doesn’t necessarily have to take on religious meaning, but most people associate it with that thought. At its most benign level  it means acknowledging what you have, starting with life itself and adding on from there. One often sees on the nightly news people who have just lost everything that they possessed claiming to be blessed to be alive. They have been stripped of all of the trappings of life, but have come to realize that all of those things matter less than life itself and the lives of the loved one that you may have around you.

Much of the stress in our daily lives does seem to be rooted in spending time worrying afraidabout things that have yet to happen or things that we don’t have, but wish that we did. Almost all of the worry about things that have yet to happen is born in our vivid imaginations, our ability to conjure up the worst case scenarios and play them out in our minds. Things seldom turn out to be as dramatic or dangerous as we imagine them to be; nor, on the flip-side, does the achievement of material success ever turn out to be as sweet as we dreamed it would be. We stress about things because we are not content o live in the moment and be happy with the blessings that we already have.

So; what to do, what to do, to avoid the stress. One might start by sitting quietly and appreciating all of the blessings that we already have, starting with the fact that you made it to another day. Then, add the people around you whom love you and who yousmiling man love and your blessings begin to mount. If you are not homeless, add that in; if you are then perhaps you have found shelter for the night and that is a blessing.  If you had food to eat during the day, even if it was not as much as you had hoped, it was a blessing. If you are not naked, then your clothes are a blessing. One could go on and on, totaling up the little things in life that one has that may be thought of as blessings. You’ll probably be surprised at the length of the list of your blessings and the fact that spending time on being thankful for them leaves you little time to stress over what you don’t have.

Of course, it would be naïve to ignore the hunger and poverty, the illnesses and evil and the injustices in the world around us; so maybe you could spend some time thinking about what you could help to do about some of those issues. Actually doing something might equip you with a purpose and a mission for your life and a life with purpose seldom has time for stress. One might say “I’m busy trying to do good things; I have no time to devote to thoughts about bad things.” Stress is a phenomenon that soup kitchenbreeds best during idle times and those with a mission in life have little of that time to devote to it. You see that type of story every so often in the news too; about the lady who is poor but who devotes her life to running a soup kitchen for people who are even poorer and who seems to be very happy – she doesn’t have time for stress in her life, she’s too busy being helpful and happy. Perhaps this quote from Leo Aikman sums it up best –

“Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night.”

So, have a blessed and happy day. You made it to today and that is a great start. Now go find your mission in life and you’ll be too busy to worry.