Stress the Silent killer
Everyone experiences stress. It’s a natural part of life. But too much stress can be toxic and disabling. In a recent national poll conducted by National Public Radio (npr.org), with their partners at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 1 in 4 Americans admitted to experiencing a great deal of stress in the previous month.
Half the adults surveyed said they experienced a major stressful event during the past 12 months. That adds up to more than 115 million people. One researcher believes this is only the tip of the iceberg and merely identifies those who are conscious of their stress. Many people, they believe, have hidden stress that impacts their ability to deal successfully with all the problems that come their way.
These are not people who just feel challenged, either, but Americans with “high stress” levels that impact their daily lives—from sleep and work to health and relationships. When asked what their biggest stressors were, people responded most often with anxieties related to poor health, a disability, low income, a hazardous job, being the parent of a teen, and being a single parent. Most reported multiple stressors.
DEALING WITH STRESS
One of the biggest barriers for getting help is the belief that “I need to figure this out on my own.” Shame and a fear of being embarrassed get in the way, and many don’t know where to go for help. They just keep trying to survive but know they are at a breaking point. The Bible does not leave us to cope alone with stress. The Word of God teaches that you cannot handle it all on your own. We need to admit our need and then reach out to a Power greater than ourselves. God is compassionate and wants to bring you stress relief! Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
There are also many practical tools given by God to help us cope with stress. One of the most important is a regular exercise program. Breathing fresh air while briskly walking in the sunshine in a natural environment can calm our nerves and move our minds toward peaceful thoughts. These activities will also aid in providing a good night’s rest, something that evades people who are under stress.
Some people try to relieve their stress with activities that only create more stress. Watching mind-numbing television or aimlessly wandering through the Internet might at first seem relaxing, but the content these media pour into our brains has the long-term consequence of actually taking away our ability to cope with stress. Overeating or taking unnecessary medications to relieve stress will also increase the problems in our lives.
Relationships suffer when people feel stressed out. Relaxing with friends, spending time with family, or participating in a Bible study group with those who care help us not only to feel loved but push us outside of ourselves. Anxiety decreases when we take time to serve and care about those around us. Helping others moves our focus off our own problems. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put in your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38 NKJV).
When we try to run our own lives, things go out of control. But when we follow God’s plan and put the Lord in the driver’s seat, we will find peace. Jesus encouraged, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). You may freely cast “all your care upon him; for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus is the great stress reliever.