Stress in the Fast Lane: Life Journey no. 9

You didn’t expect the stress

When stress is over the top.

“Produce, produce, produce,” he said, “PRODUCE.” His boss was putting the pressure on him but the market had dried up. Farm businesses were no longer buying the specialized product he was selling. He was a much-experienced and trusted sales representative, known throughout the Valley, now finding himself up a creek without a paddle. No sales, week after week. The 2008 recession was bad for business. Then the company let him go. Not a pleasant thing when you’ve helped advance the company. And, maybe, you’re aging out.

Soon he was hired on by a new company. He was relieved. Then cancer, then heart issues, more stress. In the middle of this he came to the Lord, a baby Christian. Then his son, a young father of several children, sustained major debilitating injuries while on the job. His stress level grew. The man stepped in to help with his son’s family’s financial needs and home maintenance. Next, out of the blue, another son died in an apparent suicide.  He called to tell me that day because we are friends.

The man told me his son had committed suicide and the odd particulars surrounding his son’s death, things that didn’t seem to jive. He asked me to pray. I went to the funeral. Everyone was in shock. The father brought people close as he tried to stay strong for family and friends. He had been living under constant stress and now he was grieving an unexpected loss. He missed his son more than I can say. God met him in his pain, but that’s another story.

The insidious side of stress

It’s not very pretty: the faster you go the more behinder you get.

I don’t know if you’ve ever quit a job or removed yourself from a situation because the stress impacted your health and well being. I have. One time the stress was so great that my physical being could not relax. Sleep escaped me, and my nerves and emotions were frazzled. I was falling apart, suffering from nervous illness, unable to function very well. My nerves were frayed from three years of stressful occurrences, major life disruptions, and prolonged uncertainties, which affected my ability to manage.

You can take only so much. Then your body crumbles and your mental outlook depresses. I crashed, quit my job because of it, and knew I was in big trouble. I felt unwell all the time. It took me four long years to crawl out. From then on I have had a low tolerance for stress, my brain processes slower than it used to, and I talk slower than before the breakdown. The body reacts to continuing elevated stress levels and then it self-sabotages.

Stress impacts you. Expectations, deadlines, upsets, broken communication, shaky finances, kids misbehaving, having more to do than is humanly possible, health crises, demands on your time, course finals, marital tensions, job stresses.  . . . Are you stressed out yet?

With the invention of cell phone cameras, you can be photographed anytime, anywhere. That can be a stressor in itself. You don’t want YOUR face (or body) in some compromising video on facebook! Society’s dictates, also, can make life stressful.

There are several ways to address stress. Awareness of how it affects you is paramount. Knowing how it impacts your physical, emotional, spiritual and relational self–takes some doing.  Burn-out may be part of the stress. Depression may be too. Take steps to facilitate a better outcome. Make positive choices to regain a healthier you. Take charge of your life.

You can get better if you determine to do so

Here are a few suggested modalities I use to help me deal with stress.

  • Remove, deal with, or change the areas you can remove, deal with, or change.
  • Find new and better ways to cope. Organize and restructure your processes.
  • Go deeper with God by spending time alone with Him.
  • Seek safe people to help you. Stay away from negative people. They rob your joy.
  • Eliminate behaviors that medicate the feelings. They are short term solutions to big problems.
  • See a minister, doctor, counselor, or life coach. They can give you strategies and insights.
  • Pray, journal, meditate, renew (self-care, spiritual care).
  • Spend time outdoors. Breathe deeply of its fresh air and its serene beauty.
  • Slow down. Relax–let your body relax. Release the tension.
  • Say Jesus’ name repeatedly.
  • Deal with it–please don’t avoid dealing with it.
  • Come up with a plan, then alter and adapt as needed.
  • Time. Allow time to regroup from the damage you’ve sustained, where stress tensions have compromised your health.

Positive social interactions will help you get your mind off what’s happening with you. Spiritual books, music, contemplation and meditation will help your inner person reset and renew. Let some areas of activity go. This may be necessary or you may over-stress and cause harm to yourself. If you see this in your mate or someone else, please help them regulate their activities, even if it means you have to give up something they are doing for you. Consider the long term cost to their health and well being.

Dear friend, You live with stress. What you do with it is up to you. Those things that overwhelm you will need clear thinking. Change what you can and manage the rest. Read the Serenity Prayer often. Let scripture speak to your needs. You have a friend in Jesus. He will guide you. I’m pulling for you.

Prayer sees the need and pulls you into its solution

One prayer I find especially helpful goes like this.

Bind my mind to the mind of Christ. Bind my will to God the Father’s will.  Bind my emotions to the Holy Spirit. Loose within me whatever is not of You.”

God tells us what is bound on earth is bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven (adapted from the Keys to the Kingdom passage in Matthew 16:19). Praying this prayer will help you; it takes the different components straight to the heart of God.

Modern day living is stress-filled. Stress hits you. You wonder if you can cope. Panic sets in. Sleep escapes you. Clarity of mind is compromised–you can’t hold onto a thought. Heart palpitations and panic attacks scare you. You see the doc and get some pills. But now you’re fuzzy-brained or too even-steven. At some point you wonder if a heart attack is inevitable.

You must pay attention to what your body is telling you. The mistake is to take it as a failure or that you’re quitting. Your body is telling you what your mind refuses to accept, that the stress and anxiety is affecting you and must be dealt with ASAP. You have to do what you have to do. Ask God to partner with you, He’s good at that.

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 KJV

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASV

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. ” John 14:1 KJV

Audio Recording: Stress

5.52 minutes

QUESTION: What modality or method do you use to combat stress?

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N. L. Brumbaugh likes to write contemplative thoughts about authentic spiritual living. A lot of heart goes into every one of her posts. She is a mix of reading specialist, country woman, writer, church leader, and storyteller. Norma loves creative artistry and celebrating life.