I have had a very hard year. Problems at work, not much money, fights at home and no hope for the future. Cannot even pray. God help me. Please can you guide me on how to get rid of all this stress?
Take a few minutes to identify the most important problem you have faced during the last year. As you have sensed, it has not been an easy year for most of us. Experiencing stress is normal – but living with it, is a choice.
All of us experiences stress from time to time; while a small amount of stress can motivate us, prolonged stress can be damaging. Humans have to deal with threatening situations all our lives, which cause our brains to release a range of ‘stress chemicals’ such as cortisol and adrenaline to provoke what is known as the fight-or-flight reaction. The fight reaction would give us a burst of energy, ready to fight for our lives, while the flight reaction would encourage us to flee from danger and protect ourselves. Over time, this build-up can affect our mental health too, leading to anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.
All sorts of situations can cause stress, and the causes will depend on the individual – what may cause stress for one person may not be stressful for another. Most stressful situations are associated with change or a lack of control. Even if the change is a positive one, it can still be stressful. Some common causes of stress include: death, loss of job, being unemployed, having financial issues, relationship difficulties, caring for a disabled family member/friend, problems at work, getting married, moving house, having a baby, serious illness, bereavement, divorce or being childless, living with a difficult partner, parent or child. In some cases, the absence of change or activities in life can be another source of stress.
Recognising what causes you stress and learning how to manage these feelings effectively, ultimately, is the healthiest and most effective way to feel good and live a happy life.
Stress can be internal, resulting from an illness, a medical procedure and negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and worry. Unconfessed sin can cause spiritual stress. Stress can be external, resulting from the environment or social situations. Stress can result from both positive and negative circumstances. Things like a geographical relocation, a new job, a new baby – though positive experiences, may also be stressful. Negative circumstances such as a prolonged illness, the death of a loved one, a poor working or living situation may also cause stress. Stress is related to other conditions including depression, high blood pressure, unresolved anger, etc.
Ultimately, stress results from a lack of trust in God. If you really trusted Him to take care of your circumstances, you would not be stressed out about them.
Get right with God and get right with your family and friends – Strife and unforgiving attitude can break any home friendship. God will do what only HE can do, but there are things YOU should be doing. Harbouring grudges and dissecting others for every little thing they do or don’t do can be stressful for YOU.
Analyse why you are stressed and act on it – Like David, question yourself: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” Then, whatever the reason for your concern, tell yourself by faith: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you …” (Psalm 42:5-6) If its money worries, get help from trusted friends or experts and get your finances in order. If your work place is ungodly, pray and consider a move. If you need to forgive someone, please don’t delay. Say sorry and get right with people. Life is too short to hold on to bad feelings. You will only make yourself and others sick.
Boldly declare that the Lord will help in any situation causing stress. He is your source of strength (Philippians 4:13). “So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be seized with alarm-I will not fear or dread or be terrified. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6)
Cast your cares on God. The Bible says to cast your cares on the Lord (Psalm 55:22). The word “cast” implies a continuous action. You may cast your cares on God, yet stressful thoughts return. When they do, cast again!
Pray instead of thinking too much about stressful circumstances. The Word says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Turn every stressful thought into a prayer.
Praise and worship God. It is impossible to remain stressed when you give yourself wholly to praise and worship. Put on some meditative Christian music and give it a try!
Take practical actions. For some people, stress causes them to adopt unhealthy coping methods such as smoking or drinking – and while this may feel like a quick fix, ultimately these are covering the issue. That is also running away from the real issue. If there is something you can change that will alleviate the stress, do so. For example, perhaps you could trim some of your commitments, reconnect with an old friend or seek a move.
Replace stress with the Word. The Word of God is effective in dealing with stress. Following are some excerpts to get you started. In addition, go through your Bible and mark all of the promises of God and His faithfulness.
Meditate on these Bible verses whenever you feel the stress piling up. Even printing these out and posting them on your walls is a great idea!
Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:5)
Do not fret–it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:8)
I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. (Psalm 37:25,
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you … (Psalm 42:5-6)
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22)
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:19)
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25)
The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:30-31)
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:28-34)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthews 11:28-30)
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothes. (Luke 12:22-23)
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. (Luke 21:34)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
We all want to experience peace and harmony. Stress management is a basic attempt to fulfil that need. Through faith and transformational living, life challenges can be an opportunity for growth instead of a process that triggers overwhelming stress.
Develop an attitude of praise and gratitude, regardless of our present circumstances. In the face of any challenge, we are led to act by praying and asking God for help. As we do this, our outlook improves regardless of the situation (no matter how negative) Optimism and confidence comes from trusting that God is with us in our daily struggles. The Lord is near, and He is always in control. The result of this faith focus is a “guarding” of our hearts and minds. With this problem-focused action, we can become spiritually resistant to stress as we turn to the Lord with praise and thanksgiving.
This new year can be different. GOD is still on the throne and there is always HOPE. Make wise decisions today and HE will guide you.
May His grace and love help you through life’s challenges this season and forever! Our prayers are with you.
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