Finding Peace in a World of Stress
Picture this. You get to work thirty minutes late because of traffic. When you walk in there is already a stack of tasks on your desk that you have to complete by the end of the day, in addition to the stuff you didn’t complete yesterday. You grab another cup of coffee and start into another long day.
If you’re a student like me, this scenario might not be that familiar yet. However, we certainly have our share of stress. For instance, imagine that you miss your 8:00AM class because you just spent all night finishing a project due at 10:00AM. You forgot about the test in your 8:00 class and will have to make up the points somehow.
Whether you’re a student or you’re out in the work force, there is one thing we can all agree on. Life in the world today is full of stress. It seems we are all going a hundred miles an hour without taking even a second to stop and breathe. According to statisticbrain.com, 77% of Americans report experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress daily. Another poll I read from the APA show that Americans in general feel more stressed than they did five years ago. There also seems to be a correlation between the rise in stress and the decline in health.
Managing stress in such a fast paced environment can be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. In fact, the Bible talks quite a bit about peace and how to attain in. Check out these verses in Philippians 4:
“6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (NLT).”
These verses were written by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi. If there’s anyone who understands stress, it’s Paul. Before he converted to Christianity, Paul (known as Saul) was a powerful Pharisee who had Christians executed. After an encounter with God on the road to Damascus, Paul became one of the first great traveling evangelists. This conversion from persecutor to promotor did not come without costs. Paul was seen as a traitor by the Pharisees and by those who had crucified Jesus, and he faced great opposition to his cause. He was even thrown in jail twice and ultimately he was killed for his beliefs. The verses I referenced above were written during one of Paul’s prison sentences.
The threat to his freedom and eventually his life would certainly be enough to cause major stress, but Paul didn’t let this stop him. He understood something that can be difficult to grasp when our life is hectic: there is a God who loves us immensely, and He doesn’t want us to bear these burdens on our own. Instead, He wants us to be in constant prayer and present our worries and requests to Him. As we do this, we begin to trust Him more fully and realize that He is in control.
While God is waiting for us to partner with him and give our burdens to Him, he also expects us to do our part and take care of ourselves. As I continue to strive for less stress in my life, here are a few things that have helped me:
Take Care of Your Body
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul says “19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body (NLT).” If you read the context around this verse, he is specifically warning against the effects of sexual sin, but I believe the concept still applies. Going back to that APA study from earlier, it is apparent that the rise in stress is connected to the decline in health in America. In the same way, actively making an effort to stay healthy helps to reduce stress in our lives. In times of stress, is can be easy to sleep less, eat junk, and stop exercising. While it is tempting to use every second to catch up on whatever is causing the stress, this can also run you into the ground. I’ve noticed that when I take the time to exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and eat right, I end up having more focus and being way more productive.
This step is one that I am actively implementing in my life right now. I’m learning something really important: it’s okay to say no sometimes! I’ve noticed that the times I am the most stressed are when I am working on a bunch of projects at the same time. I love to help people and play music with my friends (and I believe this is important), but God is showing me that I will have no time to live out His mission for me if I give away all of my time. Sometimes reducing stress is as easy as committing to less.
This is something we have all heard a million times, but I’ve noticed time and time again the difference it makes. The days that I put everything in my calendar and make a to do list, I end up feeling less stressed and accomplishing more.
Extreme stress is a very real problem in our society. Let’s make 2017 the year that we reduce stress! Now that I’ve shared some of the things I do to find peace, I’d like to hear from you! What do you do to reduce stress in your day? Leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation!