Overcoming Stress (Part IV)

Helpful Hints

If you are experiencing stress now, it is important to be aware of it. Take time to discover why you are feeling stressed. Ask the Lord to show you those things that are natural stressors for you so that you can prepare for them effectively. If I have to do tasks that cause stress then I make sure I am relaxed before I tackle them. I also ensure I employ on-the-job treatment for minor stress and follow up with a time of relaxation.

If you are experiencing stress now, it is important to be aware of it. Take time to discover why you are feeling stressed. Ask the Lord to show you those things that are natural stressors for you so that you can prepare for them effectively. If I have to do tasks that cause stress then I make sure I am relaxed before I tackle them. I also ensure I employ on-the-job treatment for minor stress and follow up with a time of relaxation.

There are times when stress is overwhelming because we do not do what we need to do. Following are some steps to overcome the “symptoms” of stress however; we need to recognise also the cause of stress. Minor stress symptoms can be dealt with in a few simple steps. Major stress symptoms, which lead to burn out, demand a more aggressive treatment, but it is in identifying the cause of stress that our best treatments are found: this is called prevention.

Treatment of Minor Symptoms
Dr. Dent, a leading stress expert in the UK, suggests the following procedure as an on-the-job treatment for minor symptoms of stress:

1. Let your breath go. (Don’t breath in first)
2. Take in a slow, gentle breath; hold it for a second.
3. Let it go with a leisurely sigh or relief.
4. Drop your shoulders at the same time and relax your hands.
5. Make sure your teeth are not clenched.
6. If you have to speak, speak more slowly and in a lower tone of voice.

Treatment for More Severe Symptoms
If stress symptoms remain, it is essential to take positive steps to avoid burn-out. A change or a break is often a good way to release stress and tension. Disconnection will bring about recovery. Obviously the severity of stress will dictate the degree of treatment required.

1. Leaving the office/work early, going for a walk or ride, reading poetry, the Psalms, or other relaxing literature, praying/meditating while listening to relaxing music, a short period of disconnection may be all that is necessary.

2. A few days off, a holiday with the family, going fishing for a while may relieve a more severe case of stress.

Some Preventative Measures
1. ATTITUDE – Perhaps the most obvious measure for coping with stress is that of attitude. If a person feels inadequate, threatened and overwhelmed by problems then his/her stress level will be high. If, however, he/she sees problems as challenges to be overcome, expecting to find a solution, then their stress level will be much lower.

Your attitude will depend largely upon your outlook. If it is work, are you committed to the vision, aims and goals of the company and your area of responsibility? At home, are you committed to marriage and family values?

To help your attitude it is a good exercise to list the value words that relate to your situation.

2. GOOD LIFESTYLE HABITS – There are physical conditions that can affect ones attitude such as being over-tired, or in poor health. When mixed with stressors they can cause stress problems. By ensuring adequate rest, exercise, and a healthy diet, this can be avoided. Body relaxation is a necessary aid to cope with stress. It is helpful to learn relaxation techniques to combat the problems that arise from tension. A balanced diet, exercise, regular holidays and hobbies that take ones mind off work, are essential.

3. SOUND MANAGEMENT SKILLS – Emilie Barnes states, “there is a recipe for beating stress! Its called organisation.” Setting realistic targets, delegating responsibility, referring when necessary, managing time wisely, anticipation of problems, correct filing and recording, help prevent stress.

4. EDUCATION – Learning and developing skills such as conflict management, communication and specific work related skills all help to keep people from feeling inadequate, and instils a confidence in their ability to deal with stressful situations.

5. PERSONAL NEEDS – Love, security, significance, and self worth, are basic needs. A sense of belonging meaning and purpose, feeling loved appreciated and recognised, come from our personal relationships. Sheila West states, “Our personal relationships are intricately woven into our career vision. But as they intertwine, we often don’t invest energy in confronting the issues that inevitably come up. The crossover… starts to have negative… effects…” Solid personal relationships must be seen as essential in avoiding stress.

Conclusion
Leaders experience great levels of stress. Paul points to his own leadership trials and indicates, “besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2Cor 11:28). Kingdom leaders are chosen by God to carry pressure that others will never know. If we are not to be crushed by that pressure we need to grow in our knowledge of God with wisdom and understanding. IT is true that the Holy Spirit is our source of strength but it is equally true that we must stay “in step” with the Spirit (Gal 5:25). The greatest work of the Spirit in us is, I believe, a work of revelation. Firstly, revealing God in us and secondly revealing ourselves to ourselves so that we can grow. As we discover who we are we are called to act on that knowledge. Overcoming stress, or more specifically, standing when all else is falling, requires both spiritual and practical insight and application. (Might we say that the Spirit produces Kingdom practicalities for living?)

I Jn 5:4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (NIV)

Rev 21:7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (NIV)

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