Stress in life is inevitable. We all have to deal with it. In this week’s, Mind Matters we begin to explore how a lifestyle that is centered in faith can make the difference in how we experience a stressful situation.
You slept through the alarm clock. While racing out the door, your dog gets loose and you run around in the wet yard trying to capture him. Finally capturing the dog, you sprint into the house to get ready for work. Only to hear the bill collector leaving a message on your voicemail about the delinquency of your car payment. You think to yourself, “I just can’t handle this.”
Sometimes, even by 9 AM, life’s circumstances can converge in such a unique way, that life can seem unbearable. Although everyday may not be as extreme as the example above, stress can pile up to make life agonizing.
At Christian Counseling Associates, we have witnessed how life challenges can trigger a “breaking point” with physical, or even spiritual consequences. Stress has the potential to bring anybody to a crisis level. So what’s the difference? Why deal some deal with serious life crises effectively, while others are brought to the brink? Although the answer can be more complex, the way we handle stress is a major factor in our well-being regardless of our life circumstance.
Doctors and philosophers have been concerned about the impact of stress for thousands of years. Ancient philosophers such as Hippocrates reflected about the nature of stress (Myers & Dewall, 2016). Early physicians like Walter Canon in the 1920s worked to identify that stress was connected to physical health; he identified hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine that were triggered by everyday life situations (Cannon, 1929).
Today a general misconception exists which leads us to believe that negative life events cause the reactions which we refer to as “stress”. Under this assumption, it may seem like a good idea to avoid life’s challenges, embrace leisure, or even back away from difficult responsibilities. Research demonstrates that a person’s body can resist stress for a period of time before it becomes exhausted, or vulnerable to illness (Selye, 1976). However, there is another factor, stress resistance.
Life situations are not directly responsible for the harmful impacts of stress.
Stress is defined as the process by which we perceive and respond to certain events, called stressors, that we appraise as threatening or challenging. There is a wealth of available research that demonstrates that stressful or traumatic events are not the only factor responsible for the harmful impact of stress. Rather it is the way we perceive or what we believe about stressors, that define how long and how well we can manage stress before becoming ill (Lazarus, 1998).
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Here is an example of facing a major job change and how perception can dramatically affect the result:
The apostle Paul was inspired by God to write these words from prison:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Appraising life events in a healthy hope filled manner, involves the foundation of faith and belief. Maturing in Christ develops our ability to see life from this perspective. Are your life circumstances becoming overwhelming? Reach out for help today.
Connect with you community of faith. Ask others to pray with you. Seek transformation from the Lord who has the power to guard your heart and mind. Christian Counseling Associates is also available. Our counseling staff are experts in stress management. Call us today at 724-396-1510.
Join us next time as we continue to discuss the impacts of stress and how to develop a lifestyle change that leads to transformation of body, mind, and spirit.