The world is stressful. It is not getting any easier. There seems to be little relief in sight. If anything, life seems more stressful today than even a few years ago. It may be getting worse, not better.
What should we do? How do we handle the stress of daily living?
Here are seven general suggestions:
1. Have a greater purpose than today.
If it’s all about your current situation, when times are good you’ll be good, but when times are bad, you have to live with a greater purpose. What’s beyond today? Where are you headed? What does the future look like for you? Do you have a plan beyond the stress of today? It will help free your mind from stress when you can lift your focus from today. (By the way, mine is an eternal purpose!)
2. Be a giver.
People who cling tightly to what they have stress when they have less or what they have feels in jeopardy. Stinginess leads to discontentment. Giving frees you to joy.
3. Direct your thought life.
It is a discipline to think of the glass as half full. Stress often comes through what consumes our mind. Garbage in … garbage out. In times of extreme stress, we have to pull from a predetermined and preconditioned ability to look to the bright side.
4. Stay as physically healthy as possible.
Exercise and eating healthy are always good ideas, but it becomes monumentally important during stressful times of life. We tend to do the opposite. We skip our workouts and grab junk to eat. In the process, we starve our bodies of energy and our brains of needed nutrition.
5. Forgive easily.
The lack of forgiveness injures you more than the person who injured you. Holding a grudge leads to bitterness. Bitterness leads to store up destructive emotions. That’s a recipe for stress. Pile on the normal stress of life and you’re going to be one stressed-out person. Let go. Forgive. Move forward in freedom. You’ll stress less.
6. Ground yourself in truth.
You need some roots in something that will sustain you during times of stress. God’s word is my foundation. I read it every day. I memorize it. I sometimes write a verse down so I can see it during the week. Here’s a good verse: “He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it” (Phil. 1:6). Or, “When I am afraid I will trust in You, in God whose word I praise” (Psalm 56:3-4).
7. Celebrate often.
Take time to laugh. Decompress. Unwind. Choose the bright side of life. It is there even on the worst days. Sometimes I get up from my desk, put my headphones in my phone, crank up a fast worship song … and dance. It breaks the hold stress has on me at the time. Also, surround yourself with positive people when you can. Find a community of hope. That’s what church does for me.
As I said, these are broad suggestions. Tomorrow I’ll share some specific suggestions for handling stress.
What’s your remedy for stress?