How do you deal with stress?
What do you say to yourself about what you are experiencing?
We can experience stress through an onslaught of everyday problems that seem to accumulate like a snowball rolling down hill. We barely have time to deal with one major problem when another appears.
Or we get hit with some crisis or potential crisis:
- loss of our job or fear of losing it
- on-going work-related problems
- constant fighting and turmoil at home
- loss of a loved one
- a major illness
- our marriage is on the rocks
We live in uncertain and difficult times with constant pressure to do more in less time and do it faster and better.
Our Initial Response
When faced with a crisis, our initial response is shock and disbelief followed by fear and anxiety. As we look around and see the wreckage of a well planned life now in tatters, we may feel a sense of hopelessness. We know we need to do something, but feel rooted in place, unable to know where to begin.
Our thoughts may go something like this:
“Now what do I do? I’m so tired of all the problems. No matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to make a difference anyway.”
While these are normal and natural initial responses to the stresses in our lives, remaining in that psychological spot can continue to spiral us down out of control or send us into a subtle and lingering depression.
Words are powerful and reflect our responses to life. What we say to ourselves is critical. They set in motion how our body and mind respond to what is happening.
- Do we panic and run?
- Do we strike out at someone or something?
- Will we look for a scapegoat – someone to blame for all our problems?
Problems can be so overwhelming all we want to do is crawl into bed, pull the covers up over our head and wish it all will go away. It rarely does.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
Whenever life seems to be spinning out of control, it helps to step back and take some deep, calming breaths. Our breathing becomes restricted and tight in our chest when we are stressed. Taking deliberate slow, deep breaths will begin to lower stress levels. When your breathing becomes slow, steady and relaxed, you will notice that your mind begins to calm down as well.
Find a Quiet Space
If possible take a quiet time-out. Go for a quiet walk. Or find a quiet spot to sit and just focus on your breathing. When you become more relaxed and calm, become aware of your thoughts.
The words we say to ourselves can both motivate us and affirm our abilities or they can sink us into a quagmire of helplessness, hopelessness and defeat. It isn’t what happens to us in life that defeats us – it’s how we respond to it. It’s what we do with what life hands us.
Deliberately replace negative thoughts with possibility thinking. These are not Pollyannaish thoughts that skip us down a candy cane path in an unrealistic world. These are deliberate choices you are making to respond to life in a more positive way.
It is saying:
“I can do this. It will be tough, but there are always solutions. I can handle this.”
Turn your statements into positive affirmations that can be repeated many times throughout the day.
Highlight Bible Passages
Affirm God’s love for you. As you read your Bible, verses that speak directly to your heart and needs will often jump out. Highlight them or copy them for easy access.
Here are two of my favorites:
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and of good courage…” -Joshua 5:6
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name, you’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place it won’t be a dead end – because I am God, your personal God.” -Isaiah 43 (The Message)