Turning Stress Into Success Part I
"A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones."1
A "friend" invoices you for considerably more than his original quote. A family member takes seriously ill and is in the hospital for months. Responsibilities and expenses soar. The result? Stress!
I know because these things all happened to me in the course of a single year. Stress is a normal part of contemporary living. Ignore it and it will take years off your life. As Francis Ford Coppola said in The Godfather movie, "When the mind is stressed, the body cries out." However, if we deal with our stress creatively, we can turn our stress into success. How can we do this?
First. Realize that some stress is helpful. It provides motivation. For instance, if it weren't for the stress of needing to eat and having to pay our bills, we may not want to go to work.
Second. Be aware that stress is only troublesome when it continues for too long or if there is too much of it.
I read about a ten-ton bridge that had been serving a community very well for over fifty years. During the course of those years it had carried millions of tons of weight. But one day the driver of a logging truck ignored the ten-ton load limit sign. The bridge collapsed. Life's like that. All of us can carry our "load limit" day after day, year after year, but only one load at a time. Overload us and we collapse too.
Many readers will be familiar with the research Thomas Holmes has done on stress. He found that too much change at one time was the greatest cause of stress. An accumulation of 300 or more "life changing units" in any one year may mean an overload of more stress than an individual can carry. On his scale, death of a spouse equals 100 units, divorce 73, marital separation 65, marriage 50, and so on. (See the link to a "Personal Stress Test" at end.)
Third. The next step in turning stress into success is to recognize symptoms as early as possible.
Writing in Eternity magazine some time ago Fred Stansberry talks about "stress-related diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart and respiratory diseases, migraines, allergies and a host of other psychological and physiological dysfunctions which are increasing at an alarming rate in our Western culture."
Other symptoms of stress have been listed as, "tense muscles, sore neck, shoulders and back, insomnia, fatigue, boredom, depression, listlessness, dullness, lack of interest, drinking too much, eating too much or too little, diarrhea, cramps, flatulence, constipation, palpitations—heart skip, phobias, twitches, restlessness and itching."
Fourth. Identify causes. As already mentioned change is one of the chief causes of stress. An accumulation of life's everyday annoyances can also build up a significant stress level—perhaps even more than one single traumatic event. As the old saying puts it: "It's the little things that bother us / and put us on the rack / you can sit upon a mountain / but you can't sit on a tack."
Whatever the cause of your stress is, be sure to identify it so you will be in a position to do something about it.
(To be continued)
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the wisdom to know what I can do about my stressful situations, and the good sense to do it. And help me to trust my life to You in every situation in which I find myself. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
NOTE: See "A Personal Stress Test" at: http://www.actsweb.org/stress_test.php.
1. Proverbs 14:30 (AMP).