5 Of The Best Ways To Cope With Stress
Here are 5 great ways to cope with stress. Maybe you can think of another way.
Reading the Psalms
I know this sounds oversimplified but there is something about reading the Word of God that taps the power of God and there is so much reassurance found in the pages of the Bible. I have found that the psalms help me in times of stress. Perhaps it’s due to David’s frequent troubles as he was running for his life from King Saul who continuously sought to kill him. He would reach the point of breakdown and what brought him out of it? It was usually contemplating or meditating on the Word of God. Of all of the books of the Bible, the Book of Psalms has the greatest number of mentions on meditating on God’s Word. David must have known that it helped because he did it so often. The psalmist writes “When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints” (Psalm 77:3), “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search” (Psalm 77:6), and “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:12). Psalm 77 alone has the most frequent occurrence of meditating on God and His Word more than any other book in the Bible. Try reading the psalms and see if it doesn’t help you deal with stress.
Take a Walk
When I take a walk, I usually bring Christian worship music with me on my MP3. At other times I listen to some good Bible teachers on it. Whatever it is I listen too, when I tune in to the Word of God or worship music of God and see the glorious work of His hands in nature, it takes my focus off of myself and my problems and puts them onto God and trusting Him in all of the stressful events in my life. The American Red Cross recommends it as a way to reduce stress. I recommend walking because it is a natural remedy for your body to release stress hormones in a natural way and you’ll be less likely to compensate with substances or food. We don’t have a better coping mechanism than exercise because it lowers the hormones that cause stress and it frees up the mind to think about other things in life. It disconnects us from our problems and allows us to focus on the Creator God Who is sovereign over all.
Identify the Source of Stress
Some things are natural triggers for stress. Running late in the morning and facing rush hour traffic and thinking about things that we cannot control. If you’re always in a mad rush in the morning, why not just set your alarm about thirty minutes earlier? You’ll have time to pray before you start your day. You’ll have time to spend in the Word of God without rushing through it. If you neglect prayer and Bible reading in the morning, then you are neglecting your only Source to help you deal with things in life that you were never meant to deal with alone. Jesus said that we can’t add one hour to our life by worrying (Matt 6:27) but actually subtract time off your life because that’ what worry does. If you can identify the source of stress and do something about it, then do it…if you can’t do anything about the source of stress, just pray about it. It’s a gigantic waste of time to try and control the uncontrollable.
Change Yourself, Not Others
I think one of the greatest sources of stress can be other people. We see their need to change and we try to talk to them about this but we make a poor imitation of the Holy Spirit because only the Spirit of God can make effectual and long lasting change. We might be able to make someone change but will it be permanent? Will it be lasting? More likely than not it will only be temporary change and not permanent. A few years ago I started a nursing home ministry and I wanted the church to be involved. On the first night several members came out but the very next week, no one showed up and the week after that and after that, the same thing. I may have made them come out of guilt but trying to make someone do something out of guilt doesn’t work very well and it doesn’t last for very long. All we can do is change ourselves and change the way that we look at people. We need God’s Spirit for this too but we can’t change others…we can only pray for God’s supernatural work through His Spirit to do this. When we can’t change the person or people in our life that is causing us stress, change the way you look at it; pray about it and leave it up to God.
I know this sounds odd but when you start giving thanks to God for all of the wonderful blessings you have, you’ll have a lot less stress. Just think how most of the world lives; day by day and typically, they don’t have enough food for the next day. They have so little, most of us have so much. When you start giving thanks to God, you’ll acquire an attitude of gratitude and its’ hard to be discontented when you start seeing just how much you have been blessed with. I suggest you take out a sheet of paper; start writing out everything you can think of. It should easily fill one sheet of paper and you might need a second sheet. Then start praying back to God thanksgiving for all the things on your list. You might find out that your stress level goes down when you see your list of blessings go up. Being thankful is biblical and don’t we have much to be thankful for?
Every one of us has certain levels of stress. Having some stress is actually a good thing but when it becomes too much, read out of the Book of Psalms, especially Psalm 103 or 23; take a walk and listen to some great worship music or Bible teaching; identify the source or sources of your stress and see what you can and cannot change; deal with those around you who are causing you stress and then focus on changing yourself and praying to God for His help in other’s lives; and finally, be thankful. We have so much to give God thanks for. These are some of the ways that I deal with stress. I hope they help you. Maybe you can think of some other things that will help.
Article by Pastor Jack Wellman