Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse and demanding circumstances or problems.
Stress can come from different sources. For instance, in compromising situations such as knowing the right thing to do and not doing it, or yielding to peer-pressure, lowering your standards or taking wrong shortcuts. You should entrust your life to God and be a person of integrity. ‘He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known’ (Proverbs 10:9). ‘Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day’ (Proverbs 23:17).
Stress can also arise from conflicts, whereby our differences lead to unnecessary fighting. Commit yourself to understanding where the other person is coming from. Do not be proud; and be humble when dealing with people. ‘Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another’ (Romans 12:10).
Competing with others ultimately causes comparison, pride, misery and stress. As an individual, strive to accept the unconditional love of God whom you do not need to prove yourself to. ‘Do not compare yourself with others. Each should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to others’ (Galatians 6:4).
So, what should you do in moments of great stress? First of all, think of the goodness of God. Do not focus on the negative things which will lead to anxiety and depression. Avoid the all-or-nothing syndrome! ‘But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive (Genesis 50:20). The fall of man came from a single question from Satan. ‘Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said you shall not eat of very tree of the garden”?’ Genesis 3:1). Count your blessings name them one by one!
Secondly, think of the greatness of God. You may be at a point where you think that you cannot take any more. Consider the works of God; that His hand is bigger and greater than your problems. He will hold and pick you up. ‘I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord (Psalm 118: 17).
Also, think of the closeness of God. People will leave and forsake you when you are having problems or stressed out. But God will always be with you in good and bad times. The Israelites were facing many challenges and problems but God promised to lead them into victory. ‘Be strong and of courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes before you. He will not leave you nor forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Stress can also take a toll on your body, so you need to think of the health of your body. Take care of yourself by exercising regularly, practising healthy eating habits, taking time to rest and relax; meditating, spending time with friends or engaging in a hobby. ‘Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanliness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry’ (Colossians 3:5). ‘Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and are not of your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in body and in your spirit, which are God’s’ (1st Corinthians 6:19-20).
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To change anything in your life and deal with problems and stress, you must have a clear and positive line of thoughts and perspective of life. ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). ‘We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; stuck down, but not destroyed’ (2nd Corinthians 4:8-9). ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory’ (2nd Corinthians 4:17).