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People experience stress for various reasons. It is caused by a change in the environment, such as moving to a new city, starting a new job, or getting married. Stress can also be caused by internal changes, like having surgery, becoming ill, or suffering from an injury that requires physical therapy. Relationships with friends and family members also cause stress when you argue or have a falling out.
Stress episodes happen when demands placed on us exceed our resources for coping, and the holiday season can often feel like one of those times, with its increased financial burdens and calendar commitments. It is not unusual to have brief periods when we feel stressed out or overwhelmed during this season.
Stress becomes a problem when we can’t cope with life's demands and experience prolonged bouts of it, so we need to incorporate some habits in our lives to help us reduce stress.
Here are several effective ways to incorporate stress relief into our daily routines:
Meditation: This is an exercise in which a person clears their mind of all thoughts, focuses solely on their breathing, and lets peace surround them. Meditate on the love of God and invite God into your peaceful place.
Deep Breathing: Deep breathing helps reduce stress because you are taking in more oxygen than usual. Breathing increases blood flow and relieves stress.
Reading: The best stress-relieving book is, you guessed it, the BIBLE. It teaches you to be more mindful of God's promises and how to let go of negative thoughts.
Watching a comedy show or movie: We all know stress causes us to feel down, so why not watch something that will lift your spirits. A good comedy show is perfect for this. "A cheerful heart is a good medicine," Proverbs 17:22 (NLT).
Talking to friends/family: One of the best ways to relieve stress is talking with people who care about you. Stress relief is essential, and talking to friends/family helps more than you think it would. Most people deal with stress every day but don't give stress the credit it deserves because they take it for granted, and they often forget about the Scriptures that can help them in stressful times.
In Philippians 4:6, the Scriptures tell us that God gives us the strength to deal with anything we may encounter in life. As you read Scriptures and learn how to convert negative emotions into positive ones, you can become more peaceful. If you control your negative emotions and reactions to stress, then you can deal more effectively with the challenges you face in your life.
Here are a couple of verses that have been particularly helpful for me:
Isaiah 26:3 – Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Psalm 118:7-8 – The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
A great exercise is to write out your favorite Scriptures that give you hope and remind you of God's love for you. Write about the times when you were weak, but your faith allowed you to overcome something you didn't think you could. Remember Luke 11:9-10, "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
"For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
Stressors can't be avoided; but it is possible to manage stress more effectively so that it doesn’t negatively influence your health. Stress is a silent killer because it often gets to us more than we care to admit. Don't ignore stress just because you don't see it coming or feel it happening at the moment. Trust me; stress is there!
Did you know stress affects our health more than many well-known diseases like cancer? Stress begins as an emotional strain that develops into a physical one if left untreated. If stress goes unaddressed for too long, it can change ordinary emotions into extreme ones such as anxiety, anger, or depression.
Here’s a suggested Scripture passage that I found is helpful for meditating on in order to reduce stress:
"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
And here’s a suggested prayer to invite God to help you reduce the impact of stress in your life:
"Dear God, I choose to believe in the truth of God’s word from Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Whenever I focus on you, I can do anything. Thank you for your steadfast love and keeping me comforted in stressful times. Thank you for always being by my side whenever I’m anxious or depressed. Thank you for being my comfort and my strength.
"Thinking of you, and reading your word gives me comfort every day. I will trust in you and your plan for my life, for you have my entire life mapped out. I pray for your will to be done in my life and in this world. I pray you give me peace with whatever your plan is. In Jesus’s name, Amen."