As I think about stress it occurs to me that most of my stress is caused by not responding properly to unpleasant situations. I eat. Some people need a drink or cigarette to calm down. These coping strategies may temporarily make us feel better, but they cause more damage in the long run and therefore ADD to our stress longterm:
- Drinking alcohol (needing one glass to relax is still dependency)
- Overeating or under eating
- Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer (a screen’s a screen)
- Withdrawing from church, friends, family, and activities
- Using pills or drugs to relax
- Sleeping too much
- Filling up every minute of the day with busyness to avoid facing problems
- Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, violence)
So what are proper responses? Well teacher says you can get an A+ for these healthy steps to reduce stress:
Absolve – Forgive. It’s that simple. Let go of the hurts of the past and move on.
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15
Unforgiveness is like strapping the person to you back and carrying them with you forever, letting them hurt you again and again. Forgive someone is for YOU. It puts you back in right standing with God.
Not forgiving yourself for a failure or sin is just as destructive. God forgives you, don’t call unclean what god calls clean, you.
Adapt– Most stress can be reduced responding properly. Adapt your strategies in a hostile environment.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. – Proverbs 15:1
When one of my kids says, “I hit them because they made me mad.” I respond that no one can make you mad…you choose to respond in anger.
Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.
Adjust– Make reasonable goals. Perfectionism is a major source of stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, by learning to accept “good enough.” I’m not talking about not doing your best and making excuses, I’m talking about not obsessing over every detail.
The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing. – Proverbs 10:28
Admire– Choose to be an optimist. That glass is half full! When feeling stressed, reflect on all the things you’re thankful for.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise His name. Psalm 100:4
Avoid– I’m not talking about procrastination. Putting off unavoidable stress such as studying or confronting a difficult person actually increases your stress level. I mean avoid unhealthy situations or relationships. Example: “Every time I hang with my old friends I drink again.” Then don’t hang out with them!
Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.
I hope these simple five simple “A’s” help you have less stress in the New Year.