My Big Plan To Reduce Stress in 2015
I’ve been a little stressed lately. I know because my body tells me:
-I have a consistent and annoying pulse in my right eye.
-According to my dentist, I tense my jaw at night and need to purchase a mouth guard asap (sexy).
– During a massage–the second massage I’ve ever had in my life—the masseuse told me I have some of the most tense muscles she has ever felt. I told her about my mouth guard, and she told me, “That’s great, but you should really just fix your problems.”
Point is, I’m stressed, and you probably are too. Maybe more than I am, maybe less, but I’ve noticed a theme since entering adulthood about seven years ago: it’s stressful. As my dentist explained to me while examining my disintegrating jaw, our bodies cope with stress in different ways as we age. As children, we cry. As teens, we break out. As adults, we grind our teeth, tense our jaws or do one of the numerous things I’ve heard about and/or experienced first-hand: back pain, shoulder pain, insomnia, eye pulse. Oh, the eye pulse!
I would love to do what my masseuse so lovingly suggested and just “fix my problems,” but sometimes when you’re anxious, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact problem, or problems. And pinpointing the problem can cause even more stress when you’re not sure what it is. This got me thinking that maybe fixing my problems, even when I know what they are, may not be the long-term solution to stress.
What is stress at its core? Feeling worried about things that aren’t going your way, or didn’t go your way, or might not go your way. It’s discontentment. It’s distrust. It’s completely natural and human and ok and simply needs to be embraced at times, but I also believe those living the Christian life can fight stress, at least a little bit, and I think it’s worth a try.
Someone left this verse in the comments of my last post, and I think it’s a wonderful response to the definition of stress I made up: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
After reading this verse, I worried (of course). “I have a hard time trusting God,” I thought. “This is exactly why I’m stressed, so will I never be in ‘perfect peace’?!” Then I calmed down and realized the verse actually tells me how to trust God. If our minds are stayed on him because we trust him, then the reverse is true: We trust him because our minds are stayed on him.
Phew! So, maybe if I keep my mind “stayed” by reminding myself daily of who God is and what he has done for me, I will remember how to trust him, and as I remember to trust, the trust will deepen, and as the trust deepens, I will be brought closer to perfect peace and farther from stress and anxiety.
It’s a theory, but I’m going to put it into practice this year. How? Each day, I will try my hardest to start my morning by writing down five things I am thankful for and five things I know to be true about God’s character.
It’s simple. It’s small. It’s quick. But I think it could be huge. Because the power of gratitude and truth in the face of stress and anxiety cannot be underestimated.
The goal is not to be 100% stress-free. That’s lofty and doomed to make me feel like a failure. Instead, I will take baby steps and hope for a little less stress, a less anxiety, a little less fear. A little more trust, a little more surrender, a little more love. Baby-stepping toward God and away from anxiety, one piece of gratitude and one piece of truth at a time.
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!”
Thank you for share.
Andrea it is a great blog, scientificly speaking and also dealing with the spiritual toll that stress produces or takes from us. I commented on the scientific side, for over 50+ years, as a Dentist and Oral Surgeon, I have
looked at wear facets and abraded dentitions as well as sick and partially destroyed temperomandibular joints
as a result of bruxism and grinding associated with folks dealing with stressfull situations. I don’t believe it is possible to do away with stress, especially in this day and time as we face things that threaten us, challenge
us and things that create uncertainty. Frequently we focus more on the ones that can destroy us than we focus on the ONE who can save us.
Greg Pruitt spoke at Oak Hills Church recently and gave us a visual image when he said, “We have to hold on to God with both hands. When we do that we will know God’s peace”
That is the peace you referred to in Isaiah 26:3 or the peace in John 14:27 as Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do
not be afraid.” Like Greg said “hold on to God with both hands.” When we do that we focus on the one who can save us. The visual image was helpful for us and I share that with you as we all deal with stress.
Jim & Ann
Thanks, Jim and Ann. Such true words!
I get really stressed at Christmas time. Of all the times when we should be feeling peace and reflecting Christ, I stress. I got the eye pulse thing this year! Literally the day after Christmas it went away. Ha! 2 years ago I got an ocular migraine at Christmas time. You’re right – our body definitely lets us know we are stressed in many different ways. When I get stressed like this I cling to Jesus and wait it out. Time and seasons change and the stress comes and goes. Love your blog and reading such relatable words. 🙂
Cooking Up Faith
Your plan is the best way. I have to remember that even in my best day of planning, “A man plans his ways but the Lord directs his steps”. . . . which is also the best thing!
I was so stressed yesterday. I have been trying to follow God’s calling writing and illustrating kids’ books. Meanwhile, things don’t seem to click. Yesterday, I had to go somewhere unexpectedly. Again I thought I am getting nowhere. Fortunately, I found a quiet place next to where I was waiting for my daughter. It was a bakery. The young lady that helped me was so kind. We talked. She told me her cancer bills were only $160 something. Her mother’s insurance picked up the bills! She told me to keep pursuing what I am doing. It was like I needed to be interrupted- to be told I was going the right way and to be grateful. My perspective changed in the detour. Thank you God!
You’ve homed in on what so many of us are dealing with: trusting in God. Thank you for the emphasis on thanksgiving. May God bless you on your journey (and reduce your stress).