Learn what is stress about and how to cope with stress. Are you heading for a burnout? Or are you burnt out? This article will help you deal with stress and prevent a burnout or from being burnt out.
What is Stress About? by Rusty Wright
When you oversleep and you burn the breakfast and the dog is barking and your neighbor is rude and traffic is gridlocked and your car breaks down and its raining and you’re late to work and your boss is angry and your report is overdue and your emails bounce and your kid’s in the principal’s office again and your bank balance is low and your team lost last night and world news looks bleak and you wonder if the love of your life will ever pay you the attention you crave – how do you handle the stress?
Martha felt devastated. She knew her marriage had been rocky recently, but she had no idea Phil would pull the plug. Now a uniformed marshal was at the door, handing her divorce papers. Her world was collapsing.
Keith’s work brought him great satisfaction. Trouble was, his supervisor felt threatened by his success and was judgmental and controlling.
When her physician asked Janet if she’d been stressed recently, she sensed trouble. When she heard the word, ‘cancer,’ life seemed to unwind.
We all experience stress, from the simple to the staggering. Excessive stress can impair your health. The famous Social Readjustment Rating Scale3 assigns numerical values to the stress levels of various life events. ‘Death of a spouse’ ranks highest at 100 points. ‘Divorce‘ is next at 73. Other items include ‘personal injury or illness’ (53), ‘fired at work’ (47), and ‘trouble with boss’ (23).
Any of those sound familiar? Accumulate too many points annually and you could be at risk for physical illness and/or mental health problems.
There are several practical things we know to do to keep ourselves healthy. Unfortunately, they are often the first habits we kick when stress bears down on us. Here’s a short list:
Eat right. Gobbling burgers and fries on the run and postponing the veggies until tomorrow can weaken your coping abilities.
Exercise regularly. Don’t argue with this. You know it’s important. Design an exercise plan appropriate to your health, limitations, locale and schedule. Ask a friend to join you if necessary. Stick with it.
Get some sleep. Those inconsiderate drivers that blasted their horns at me the other day probably needed more sleep. Frankly, I probably needed sleep, too.
Manage your time. Start each day the evening before. Evaluate tomorrow’s activities against your lifetime objectives. Learn to say no. List activities in order of importance, then plan them into tomorrow’s schedule. Set out tonight items you’ll need for tomorrow’s tasks.
There are also several important strategies for keeping us stable in the midst of life’s chaos:
Cultivate a sense of humor. An ancient proverb says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”4 Frequently, laughter can provide a normal and necessary release of tension.
Cultivate friendships. A born introvert, I used to be a loner. When my wife of twenty years was divorcing me, some co-workers were harassing me, and my doctor said I might have cancer, I found refuge and solace in good friends. Don’t try to endure hardship alone. It can be very painful.
Reconcile with adversaries. Keep short accounts. Confront where necessary. Where appropriate, discuss your differences, admit your wrongs, seek to forgive and be forgiven.
As a teen, success in athletics, academics and student government did not bring the fulfillment I wanted. I wrestled with guilt, anxiety and a poor self-image. In college, I met some students with an attractive, genuine joy and peace. They claimed to have a personal relationship with God. I couldn’t believe all they told me, but I kept returning to their meetings because I liked them and because it was a good place to get a date.
They explained how their faith affected their lives and relationships, saying that God loved me, but that my own self-centeredness separated me from Him. They said Jesus, God‘s Son, died to pay the penalty for my selfishness and rose again to offer new life. That began to make sense. Eventually, through a heart attitude, I asked Jesus to forgive me (based on His death for me), enter my life and become my friend. No earthquake occurred, but I found a peace of mind, freedom from guilt, purpose and power for living, and the best friend I could ever have.
Of course, life has not been without its stresses. But friendship with God aids stability. Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”5
Have life’s stresses got you down? Maybe you need to attend to your physical health, or to cultivate humor and close friendships. Maybe you need to establish a relationship with the One who knows your every hurt and whose love and trustworthiness are infinite. Why not give Him a try?
Watch this short movie called, ‘Living Free’ and find out how you can have a personal relationship with God.
REFERENCES: 1) ‘Dieting Under Stress,’ Granada Gram, Granada Presbyterian Church, Coral Gables, FL, November 1988. 2) Names and some details altered to protect privacy. Details in stories naming the writer have not been altered. 3) T.H. Holmes and R.H Rahe, ‘The Social Readjustment Rating Scale,’ Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11 (1967), pp. 213-218; cited in http://chipts.ucla.edu/assessment/Assessment_Instruments/Assessment_files_new/assess_srrs.htm. 4) Proverbs 17:22 NLT.
5) John 14:27 NLT.
Rusty Wright is an author and university lecturer with Probe.org who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.probe.org/Rusty. This article first appeared at www.answermagazine.com.
Did you learn what is stress about and how to cope with stress? Are you heading for a burnout? Or are you burnt out? This article was designed to help you deal with stress and prevent a burnout or from being burnt out.