What is stress?

women holding wine glasses

Is stress bad?

Trick question…we think sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

Recently, I had a negative experience with stress.

My family was in the car together, and my husband said “Let’s swing by this happy hour with some friends.” I said, “Okay, let’s do it!”

Immediately following my yes, my palms began to sweat and I felt my stomach begin to churn. All of a sudden, I did not want to go to that happy hour.

I had been running running running with no end in sight. The last thing I wanted to do was do one more thing. But instead, I had given a quick yes without thinking about how it would feel to stretch myself a bit more.

woman in gray tank top
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Unfortunately, as my husband proceeded to engage in casual conversation with me, I SNAPPED. “I actually don’t want to go to this stupid happy hour. I just want to go home.”

“Hmmm….” my husband said with a chuckle (Thank GOODNESS he’s laid back)…”somebody seems a bit on edge…”

I looked at him as he was laughing at me, and I began to laugh too. It was so stupid of me to snap like that.

I realized that I had been under a lot of pressure over the course of the last week, and all of a sudden, my stress bubbled over.

But was I going to die? No.

In fact, going to that happy hour and seeing some friends I enjoyed spending time with was EXACTLY what I needed at the moment.

women holding wine glasses
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Looking back at that scenario, I had gone from the stress being a good thing and propelling me forward to reach my goals, to my stress coming out in a negative way towards someone I loved.

Why? Because I had been too quick with my “yes” and I hadn’t given the scenario enough thought. Would I have been happier if I had said no and gone home? Maybe, maybe not…

But the moral of the story is we need to be mindful of when we are being pushed past our healthy limit of commitments.

If we are not mindful of this, we can all of a sudden react in a way we are not proud of, like I did.

So what is stress?

Stress is a physiological response (or physical response) to pressure. It is often triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self, or when we feel we have little control over the  situation.

My body had physically reacted to doing one too many things.

What does the stress cycle look like?:

  1. You encounter a stressor, or a thing that causes stress.
  1. Your body has a physical reaction to the stressor – this creates a sense of overwhelm and can create what you all know as a fight or flight response
  1. Once the stressor finally disappears, you still have to complete the stress cycle by allowing your body to know that it’s safe, by relieving it of that physical reaction

Key Takeaway: Our body needs to release the stress it’s holding by knowing we are safe. Sometimes we need to think outside the box to let go of the stress our body is carrying, even long after the stressor is gone. You need to find what uniquely works for you.

woman holding gray ceramic mug
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Here are some practical tips for managing stress:

  1. Identify the source: Recognize the specific factors or situations that contribute to your stress. Understanding the root causes can help you develop effective strategies to address them. Also, recognizing when things are out of your control is important too.
  2. Prioritize and organize: Break down tasks into manageable steps and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. Organize your schedule and create a to-do list to help you stay focused and reduce overwhelm.
  3. Practice relaxation techniques: Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindfulness techniques to calm your mind and relax your body. These practices can help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm.
  4. Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a support network to share your feelings and concerns. Talking to someone you trust can provide emotional support and different perspectives on your situation.
  5. Set boundaries: Learn to say no when you feel overwhelmed and prioritize your own well-being. Establish healthy boundaries in your relationships and commitments to prevent excessive stress.
  6. Time management: Manage your time effectively by setting realistic goals and deadlines. Avoid overcommitting yourself and learn to delegate tasks when possible. Proper time management can reduce stress by creating a sense of control and accomplishment.
  7. Practice positive thinking: Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations. Focus on gratitude and count your blessings daily. Cultivating a positive mindset can help reduce stress and increase resilience.
  8. Engage in stress-relieving activities: Find activities that help you relax and unwind, such as taking a walk, practicing yoga, listening to soothing music, or engaging in a creative outlet. Engaging in enjoyable activities can provide a healthy outlet for stress.
young woman listening to music in earphones in apartment
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Remember that managing stress is a personal journey, and different strategies work for different individuals. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you, and be patient with yourself as you navigate through stressful periods.

What does the Bible say about how to manage stress?

The Bible offers guidance and encouragement on various aspects of life, including managing stress. While the term “stress” may not be explicitly mentioned in the Bible, there are several principles and teachings that can be applied to dealing with stress.

Here are some key verses and principles that can help in managing stress:

  1. Matthew 6:25-27: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Jesus encourages His followers not to worry excessively but to trust in God’s provision and care.
  2. Psalm 55:22: “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” This verse reminds us to surrender our burdens to God, knowing that He will sustain us and keep us steadfast.
  3. 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” This verse reiterates the idea of handing over our worries and anxieties to God, recognizing His care and concern for us.

In addition to these specific verses, the Bible teaches the importance of seeking God’s wisdom, finding strength in His Word, relying on community and fellowship with other believers, and practicing gratitude and contentment. These principles, when applied, can help manage stress and bring about a sense of peace and well-being.

If you want to come to an event where we will dive deeper into managing stress and reviving our hearts, join us at the Refresh & Reconnect Retreat on August 8th!


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