Establish | How to Stress Less
You’re stressed? Here’s how to stress better…
Stress is almost inevitable. We feel stressed when we experience emotional strain or tension, and, as we enter into work, we can find that it’s the epicentre of stress; deadlines, difficult bosses, competitive colleagues, the constant ping of emails, these all combine meaning it’s hard to switch off and not only can work become uncomfortable – it’s hard not to take that stress home.
There is a difference between healthy adrenaline and anxiety that stifles your health and wellbeing. I think it’s almost impossible to eradicate all stress – life IS stressful. According to the UK statistics authority, last year alone, a record 17 million working days were lost to stress, costing the economy at least £2.4billion.
I want to start by giving an important disclaimer – this is coming from a stress head. As a teenager (and young adult) I was partial to a full blown, (completely unhelpful and time wasting) hysterical meltdown when stress overrode normal functioning. How do we tackle it? Besides the usual advice – sleep, exercise and healthy eating (and DO take note of these) there is deep comfort and security available. If we can understand what CAUSES stress, we can find solutions in our relationship with God, solutions that can help us to stress better (and hopefully stress less)!
Stress busting solutions…
The main causes of stress? We stress when we’re feeling uncertain, when we feel inadequate, when we’re not in control of outcomes, and when we’re overwhelmed and worried. If we look at some of the Psalms, they show us that these causes of stress can be alleviated when we put our confidence, faith and trust in God.
1. If you feel uncertain or out of control… God gives us GUIDANCE
“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” – Psalm 37:5
This is hard to do. Committing everything to the Lord, includes the time sat behind the desk when our focus is on work. It can feel that God isn’t interested in our work lives. But he cares deeply about our wellbeing. In fact, even when things feel as though they are spiralling out of control, we’re told in Psalm 23 that the Lord is our “shepherd”. This means we can be led by, protected and supported, we just have to take God to work with us. The promise is that he will guide us!
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23: 1-3
2. If you feel inadequate… God gives us STRENGTH
Sometimes tasks feel impossible, you can feel immense pressure and that the challenge ahead/to-do list/project/deadline is beyond you. When you feel like this, take comfort from these words…
I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. – Psalm 16: 8
God provides us with strength to navigate these feelings of inadequacy. Not only do we have someone battling these stresses with us – God promises to look after us!
“Give your burdens to the lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” – Psalm 55: 22
3. If you feel exhausted or overwhelmed… God gives us REST
Psalm 68 makes it so abundantly clear where we need to place our stress. In speaking about God as a Saviour, written in verse 19, it is evident that God will carry our exhaustion, our fears and problems.
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens” – Psalm 68: 19
He will “bear our burdens” and he promises to do it EVERY DAY! Moreover – not only will God carry our anxiety, but when we hand them over to him, we will thrive. We are promised JOY in the consolation that God gives.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” - Psalm 94: 19
4. If you feel worried… God gives us SECURITY
You, God are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people” – Psalm 68: 35
God provides, safety, security and sanctuary. Work can be the opposite. It can feel as though God has abandoned us at work. Psalm 42 is clear. When you feel worried, turn to God. Why?
“Why my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my saviour and my God” – Psalm 42: 11
“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life” – Psalm 42: 8
God is always with us. It’s not something you opt into. Day and night. Let his love override and replace the stress and anxiety.
There’s no magic “stress busting tablet”, no formula, no potion to relieve stress. When you (inevitably) next feel stressed, instead of getting caught up in the cycle of escalating hysteria try and STOP for a second. Remember that God gives you guidance, rest, strength and security. He promises to keep you safe, will take on your problems and show you what step to take next.
Rosie is a broadcast journalist and radio presenter. She's a life long Londoner, eldest of four girls, gospel singer and lipstick lover!