Points covered: Overcoming stress, ways to overcome stress, enjoying everyday life, Biblical steps in overcoming stress.
God wants us to enjoy our lives. Jesus came to give life abundantly. But most of the people are stressed out and living a fast–paced lifestyle. We can’t escape stress since we’re surrounded by distressing situations all the time. The question is: How are we going to handle it? Are you able to handle your stress or do you wake up, go about the day, and go to bed with a load of stress?
How to overcome stress?
Illustration: An US airplane crashed on long Island. The final verdict on this accident was not terrorism but actually it was caused by the stress from this plane flying in the air. Over time this plane being under constant motion and pressure from the outside force of nature eventually developed stress fractures around the engine. The mechanics never noticed these stress fractures and the mountings around this engine from the pressure could not take it anymore and the engine broke free from the plane and it crashed. The truth is if someone would have noticed the stress fractures, the people on that plane could have been saved but instead they lost their lives. Why because the stress fractures went unnoticed. The same is true for each one of us today.
Study says that the top 7 stressors of people are job, money, health, relationships, poor diet, media overload, and lack of sleep. Many people try to escape their stress with medications, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or anything that brings relief, but none are truly effective.
According to a survey by NDTV 50% of India’s employees are under severe stress, 60% of management staff are under stress. 72% of children and students in India are under stress, 61% of IT professionals are under severe stress. 30% of IT professionals are addicted to narcotics because of stress. 70% of IT professionals are prone to heart disease all because of stress.
We get caught up in the rat race of life and we run and run and run and find ourselves exhausted, burnt out, and frustrated. We lose our peace, joy, and always stressed about something. You see, every day we have opportunities to get upset, to be offended, to live worried. Life happens. People get on your nerves, unexpected bills, a family member is in the hospital. If you wait for all your circumstances to calm down and then you are going to have peace, then you are going to stop worrying, you will be waiting your whole life. You will have to find peace in the process.
Psalm 4:8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. There is a way to be stress free. God can give us that peace but the fact is it is not going to happen by accident. We have a role to play with God to make our lives peaceful, joyful, and stress free.
4 Ways to overcome stress.
1. Manage your time.
Time acts both as a stress reliever as well as stress inducer. Time spent in a park or a beach is very de-stressing, where else the target time to finish a project can be very stressful. So if we manage our time well, we can avoid a lot of stress. Most of us are living a fast-paced life and too often do we do things in the nick of the moment. I believe if we can plan our day, month, and the year we can avoid a lot of stress. Ephesians 5:15-16 KJV 15See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Job 9:25 My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy.
Most of us have a lot of work on our plate. On the other side we are lose a lot of time for social media, Facebook, twitter, smart phones, TV and ignore the important work of our day. What happens is that the work pile up and pile up and we move our work for the last minute. Then all of a sudden we have very less time for our work, bank holidays, traffic all becomes an issue we are very stressed.
Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, said great time management means being effective as well as efficient. In other words, we must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent, that way it minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines. Make sure that you have plenty of time to do these things properly, so that they do not become urgent.
Now the moment you are not able to handle your important works, it is time you need to delegate or share work with your family members or else ask for outside help or employ someone. If you manage your time well you can cut out a lot of your stress.
2. Manage your Health.
Everyone should work towards having a healthy body as much as they can to face the brunt of each day. Most of the time we have a lot of work to do but we are very tired. We need to have a fit body that makes us effective and efficient in our work. Health can become a major stress in our life if ignored.
If your body is not able to cope up with your daily stress we become sick. Medical science lists stress related illness: Heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression and anxiety, GI problem, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s disease, accelerated aging, premature death and so on.
If you take care of your health, you can avoid unnecessary stressors and give your body the boost to finish your deadlines on time and enjoy every day. The best time to start caring for your health is when you are young but if you are old, it is never too late. A healthy body gives you that push to be productive and be stress-free every day. Your physical health is an important part of making your life count and productive to be the person God intended to be.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Keeping your body in shape is a spiritual discipline. It’s not just about losing weight, wanting to live longer, or trying to look nicer. God created your body, Jesus died for it, the Holy Spirit lives in it, your body is connected to Christ, and it’s going to be resurrected one day. So, God is going to hold you accountable for how you managed what he gave you.
Illustration: There were two woodsmen. One day one woodsman challenged another to an all-day tree chopping contest. One man worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow had chopped substantially more wood than he had. “I don’t get it,” he said. “Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did.”” But you didn’t notice,” said the winning woodsman, “I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest.”
You see rest gives our health the push and makes us productive and stress free. When I read through the Gospels I am impressed by the relaxed, calm pace Jesus kept from day to day. You never once see Jesus in a hurry. He was calm, rested, and yet accomplished so much.
Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” In the Old Testament, God set a pattern for us when: Genesis 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Shouldn’t we take His example seriously? Start by sleeping right, 8 hours a day. Let’s be real honest here. How many of you are actually sitting in your seat right now thinking about what you’re going to do after church? We are workaholics and worn out by the time demands of our day. Learn to rest.
Many of us are in jobs where we hardly get any exercise – we’re sitting at our computers, sitting at our desks, sitting behind the steering wheel of our cars. 1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value. If you need to cope up with the stress of this present world, we need our body to be fit. Start an exercise program. But then it is of some value only, do not overdo that.
Eat right. There are many places in the world where the biggest problem is: there’s not enough to eat. Children die every day from basic malnutrition due to a lack of food. But in Bangalore, the problem is quite different, we have plenty of food and a variety of options. Portion size has increased so dramatically that jumbo or large size has become a standard choice.
Did you know that India is the third most obese country in the world? And 500 Lakh people worldwide die every year due to being overweight. To be able to lead a stress free life you need a body that is healthy and fit, and for that you need to eat right.
While many of the foods we eat are fast and convenient, they also tend to be high in fat, refined sugars, grains, and calories which are harmful. Our food is divided into proteins – building blocks, carbohydrates –provide energy, and fat – Makes us warm and adds taste. The right portion is 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% of carbohydrates. Healthy diet will include the three main food groups in balanced proportions – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and a reasonable quantity (2 liters) of water a day.
Have a well balanced diet. Rest well. Exercise your body. Your body will be able to handle a lot of your stress. But that is not all, there is a spiritual aspect to it. That is what puts us on advantage from the worldly people.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. God never promised that he is going to keep us from difficulties. He never said that we would not have storms, but he did say that he would give us peace in the midst of the storms. When everything is going wrong, you are at peace in the inside. That is the peace that passes all understanding. That comes only from God.
LB If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. (God is telling if you do these things you will experience that peace.) His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.
Don’t you want to have that? God promises a peaceful mind. How can we experience that? If you do these things. What things? The previous verse has the answer. Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. There is no exception. At anytime God says do not be anxious or worry.
3. Worry about nothing.
Refuse to worry because worry is the number one stress of people. You maybe overworked, but work does not keep you all night, worry does. People worry for basic two reasons.
Worried about the future.
Most people are stressed about a problem that has never happened.
Illustration: I remember when I was working the company would lay off people. All of a sudden some people who are not performing well were laid off. And I always had this stress of losing my job. Because of which I could not enjoy my weekends, I could not enjoy being with my friends or family just because all the time I felt that I would lose my job. Actually speaking, I ended up working for that company the longest in my career. They never wanted me to go but went it was God’s time; I had to put my papers down. You see, all my worry was such a waste.
Are you trying to worry for a problem that has never happened? Are you trying to solve a problem that never is going to happen? Many of the things that you are worried about is not going to happen. Jesus put it this way. Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
God has given you grace for today, you do not have grace for tomorrow. Do not try to worry and be stressed about the next 5 years but live your everyday well, plan for tomorrow and move on. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Many of the things you are worried about are not going to happen. The truth is that even if the worry comes to pass, God will give you the grace to handle it. So do not be stressed about tomorrow.
Worried about the things beyond your control.
Many people are stressed about something you cannot do anything about. Are you trying to change things that only God can change? If you have done your best, and things are beyond your control now, at some point we need to turn it over to God and enjoy your life.
In Acts 9 When God told Ananias to go and pray for Saul, Ananias did not want to go. Saul was persecuting the believers, arresting them. He was the greatest enemy of the church. But on the road to Damascus, a light came down from heaven and Saul turned blind. Saul heard a voice then, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul asked, “Who are you Lord?” “I am Jesus who you are persecuting,” the voice said. That moment was a turning point in Saul’s life, he was transformed but Ananias did not know anything about what had happened on the road to Damascus. He still thought Saul was a huge threat. He said, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm that he has done to your saints.” Ananias was stressed. He came up with a lot of reasons why he should not pray for Saul. I am sure he was all stressed out and worried. He did not realize that he was worried about something that God had already taken care of. He did not know that Saul had already had a change of heart. When he finally went to pray for him, Ananias found out that Saul was now on his side not the enemies.
Some of the things you are worried about just like Ananias, you cannot see it yet but God has already changed it. He has already spoken to the right people. He has already arranged the break through. It is just a matter of time before you see your deliverance.
In Acts 12, King Herod had Peter arrested and put in prison. He did not like the fact that Peter was a follower of Christ. Peter was in the prison chained between two soldiers. The next morning he was going to be brought to trial. Herod had already killed James. It looked like Peter would be next. Can you imagine a man’s thought in that situation? That night an angle of the Lord appeared in the prison. He went to see Peter and Peter was sound asleep. The Bible says Peter was so deep in sleep that he had to strike or shake Peter and waked him up.
If you know the next day your are going to die would you be sleeping soundly or would you be pacing up and down the prison floor and weeping. It is good to pray, it is good to ask for God’s help but at some point we will have to be like Peter. Say, “Lord I have honored you, I have prayed, I believed, I have done my best, now I am not going to worry. I am going to sleep.”
Worry is unreasonable. Friends, worry is a thief. It will rob you of everything. It will rob you of your sleep, rob you of your joy, peace. If you allow it worry can keep you from your destiny. The Bible says we cannot add one inch to our life by worry. Friends, don’t let worry rob you. You can have perfect peace in the Lord.
4. Quiet Time.
When I am talking about quiet time, it is not meditation or anything. It is the quiet time that you spend personally with God. Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. You need to have a personal time of prayer, a time of petition, thanksgiving and giving all your worries and requests to God.
Prayer, time with God is vital for a stress free life. You cannot pray unless you have made peace with God. Accept Jesus as the savior of your life.
Jesus also experienced stress, but He knew exactly how to handle it. Throughout his ministry we would find Jesus getting away from the pressures of the ministry and the crowd, so he could relax by spending time with the Father.
Once, after feeding a multitude of five thousand, Jesus sent His disciples away in a boat and went up on the mountain by Himself to pray (Matthew. 14:22-23). In fact, seeking solitude with His Father was His customary practice, especially after dramatic situations. We also see this same example in the Apostle Paul’s life. After he was dramatically saved, he headed for Arabia to seek solitude with God (Gal. 1:17). Time spent alone in prayer everyday with God is vital.
Quiet time is the time where you switch off your mobile phones, get away from distractions, friends, family, all noises of the city, and spend time alone with God. Hebrews 4:3 Now we who have believed enter that rest. Believers are already in that rest but because of the busy world, we need to make time to be in that rest. Create a special time with God everyday where we enter into his rest. Jesus said: Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Here is the key in the matter of worry and stress, when you are stressed and worried God goes to rest, but when you rest on God, he will get to work for you. That is why the Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
In the Bible, David faced all kinds of opposition, people came against him, they wanted to take his throne, and some even wanted to kill him. He could have stayed worried, stressed out, and all defeated but David said in Psalm 23:1-2 1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he refreshes my soul. One version says, by the restful waters. He was saying the way I keep myself and protect my peace is I go down to the still waters on a regular basis and I empty out all my worry, all my fear, all my anxiety. He let his mind rest.
It can be chaotic all around you, people, traffic, work, finance but on the inside there is a rest because you have had your rest with God. You are at peace. When you have that rest with God, you have downloaded all your stress, there is a healing that happens. Your relationship with God increases. God prepares us for the day ahead. You are not more stressed, no more mad at people, not worried about anything because you have had your rest with God.
Friends, stress free life is possible in this busy world. We can be peaceful, happy, and relaxed no matter what is on the outside. But we have work to do. I would say a stress-free life is a right combination of your physical, emotional, and spiritual life. Right time management, a body that is fit, a mind that does not worry, and rest with God everyday is spiritual. Make a decision manage your time well, take good care of your health, stop all the worries from the throne and put Jesus on the throne, and enter into that rest with Jesus every day. I pray that your days are going to be more fruitful. You are going to walk on your promises, lead a stress free life and become the person God made you to be. Amen.