Q: I’m under pressure at work and pressure at home, pressure to succeed, pressure to provide for my family, and pressure to be a good parent and spouse—pressure from every side. So often I just don’t know how to cope! What can I do?
A: Stress is becoming an almost inescapable part of modern life—almost, because there are things one can do to avoid getting under undue stress or living in a state of constant stress. While some of the following tips are of a strictly physical nature—getting sufficient exercise or eating the right kinds of foods, for example—others add a spiritual dimension by bringing Jesus into the equation in a very real and personal way.
Jesus can be your counselor, coach, business manager, intercessor, executive secretary, personal trainer, confidant, and best friend. In short, He is everything you need to contend with the stress that has become part of modern living and to come through a winner!
Tips for Stress Reduction
- Pray. Make quiet time with Jesus a daily habit.
- Go to bed on time; get enough sleep.
- Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
- Say no to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
- Delegate tasks to others who are capable.
- Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
- Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time, when possible; don’t lump the hard things all together.
- Concentrate on things you have direct control over—yourself and your habits—rather than on things that you have little or no control over.
- Get organized so everything has its place.
- Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a valid concern, find out what God would have you do about it. If you’re worried about something that you can’t or shouldn’t do anything about, then put it in His hands.
- Live within your budget; don’t buy things on credit if you don’t have to.
- Take one day at a time.
- Have backups—an extra car key in your wallet; an extra house key buried in the garden; extra postage stamps; batteries for your flashlight, cell phone, etc.; back up your computer files.
- Carry God’s Word with you to read while waiting or during spare moments.
- Take your work seriously, but yourself not at all.
- Use the time while driving or riding in your car to listen to Bible-based cassettes, CDs, or MP3s that can help improve your quality of life.
- Keep a folder of favorite Scriptures or inspirational readings on hand.
- Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a hearty “Thank You, Jesus!”
- Don’t take on new work until you have taken care of timely matters that are still pending.
- Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed to pray.
- Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
- Simplify and declutter your life.
- Every night before bed, think of at least one thing you’re grateful for that came out of your day.
- Develop a forgiving attitude. (Most people are doing the best they can.)
- Get enough exercise.
- Be kind to unkind people. (They probably need it the most.)
- Eat right.
- Slow down.
- Thank God for what’s coming, because He won’t send you anything that you and He together can’t handle.
Where Troubles Can’t Touch You
Submariners tell us that no storms ever reach very deep into the ocean. The water is perfectly calm a hundred feet down, no matter how high the breakers may rise on the surface. There is quiet in the depths that no surface storms can disturb. This is possible, too, in human lives; there can be serenity and peace within, undisturbed by the storms of the world. Jesus is our peace.
When life feels like a tiny, windowless room and its four walls are closing in, you can create a window of escape through the Word of God.
As you read and meditate on the Word, as you believe God’s promises and claim them as your own, wonderful things await you. The warm sunshine of His love will melt away the tension.