Stress. We all experience it in some form. It’s a fact of life. Some of you are parents who have greater amounts of stress than the average person: Your child came in past their curfew – again. They keep getting caught skipping class at school or they’re struggling in college. They got another speeding ticket or had another car accident – maybe a DUI. Arrests. Signs of marijuana use in your home or at their residence.
Arguments over . . . anything. You have a gnawing sense they’re probably having sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend. You’re worried about a pregnancy or an STD; or fearful they may be drawn to the gay lifestyle. Hints of too much drinking are being noticed more frequently. You discovered they’re self-injuring and struggle with a mental illness. To be honest, you’re beginning to wonder if they’re life is in danger by their own hand? All this pressure makes you sick to your stomach.
When negative experiences with your child come at you fast and furious, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and stressed out.
Can God help when worry threatens to overpower you?
“With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27).”
When we can’t change a difficult situation we feel powerless. Powerlessness creates a huge amount of mental and emotional strain, especially when it’s related to your beloved son or daughter. I’ve found it difficult to manage all the effects of that kind of stress on my own, but God can. Over the years, He taught me these 10 practical tips that helped.
10 Practical Ways to Reduce Stress
1. Learn to say no: simplify my life; shorten my to-do list by removing the “shoulds” and keeping the “musts”. Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them altogether.
2. Delegate tasks to others when possible. In Exodus 18: 31-32 God gave Moses some extra help when he asked for it!
3. Set aside time for rest and relaxation. Make time for leisure activities everyday: smell the roses, enjoy a hobby.
4. Focus on what’s really important and make those things my priority. Read Luke 10:38-42 about Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha; Mary chose what was better.
5. Eat healthy, get adequate sleep and some kind of exercise.
6. Listen to relaxing music. I like classical, jazz, and a variety of praise and worship.
7. Have fun (remember what that is?) and try to laugh. Laughing helps the body fight stress. Proverbs 17:22 says a cheerful heart is good medicine.
8. Express my feelings honestly; not bottle them up. If something or someone is bothering me, communicate my concerns in an open and respectful way.
9. Look at the big picture. Get God’s perspective. Take one day at a time, even one moment. Print out a copy of The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr and use it daily. (Go to Google Images and do a search; you’ll find many different designs you can print. I like the full version.)
10. Connect with other positive people; develop a support system. Resist the urge to stay alone and isolate.
This Bible is full of stress reducing thoughts. Here’s a great one:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true…noble…just…pure…lovely…of good report, if there is any virtue…anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).”
Let’s be honest – the reasons for your stress may not be alleviated quickly, but if you select even a few of these ideas and slowly incorporate them into your life, you will cope better. Stress won’t overwhelm you anymore.
You’re the Master stress-reducer. Show us how to live more like Jesus. He had a lot to be stressed about, yet, He remained calm. Help us begin to incorporate some of these ideas into our lives so that our stress level will be reduced. Our situation might not change, but we can change how we respond with Your help and strength. Amen.