Stress has a deceptive way of masquerading. It lurks behind fatigue. It shadows symptoms of illness. It merges with anxiety and the inability to quell panic. We all struggle with stressors in life, but not all stressors have to win the war of our spiritual, mental, or physical health. If you’re looking for healthy ways to manage stress, this article is for you.
Developing healthy coping mechanisms for stress is how we expose it for what it is – the enemy of balanced, good health. Stress is pretty much anything that causes tension, and its source may come from within or from outside each of us.
There are innumerable examples we can share. When we consider negative words, we can see two sources of stress that affect us. When intentional, hurtful words are hurled our way, they come from outside our being. If we choose to accept and rehearse those via negative self-talk, stress attacks us from within.
Coping mechanisms for stress are the healthy actions we choose for avoiding the negative effects of stress in life. The beauty of healthy coping mechanisms for Christians is that truth does what God promises – it sets us free by exposing what holds us down.
- When coping mechanisms are established, triggers for stress are revealed.
- When triggers are identified, the sources of stress are exposed.
- When the sources of stress are exposed, we are better equipped to conquer it for good.
Here are seven ways to manage stress using healthy coping mechanisms:
1. Confidence in God’s word.
One of the primary ways to manage stress is to go to the source of truth, namely God’s Word. We fortify our peace by reading, studying, and applying scripture to our life. There is a multitude of ways to make note of specific scriptures that infuse us with inspiration to conquer stressors in life.
Select a paper journal or create a digital file where passages that strike down stress are recorded. Make it easy to access and add true stories about how his Word helped you conquer stress-inducing situations. The faithfulness of God in the past serves to encourage us in the present. Here’s a passage to get started:
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16, NASB95
2. Peace from prayer.
God our Father is always with us, always available, and always aware of our need. When we choose to turn our attention to him in prayer, stress loses its hold. Knowing who we are in him puts every stressor in its place – under the almighty hand of God. Here’s a promise from God to read aloud when stress makes it hard to speak:
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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7, NASB95
Wouldn’t this look great as a device’s lock screen or as a computer desktop? You can make one of your own using free software or apps.
3.Burden bearers unite.
We were created with the need for relationship ~ healthy relationship with our Father and with our Christian family. Developing healthy relationships with others creates the opportunity for reaching out when we are in need. The beauty of our Christian family is that we turn to Christ together for help, health, and hope.
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2, NASB95
4. Infusion of joy.
We all have sources of joy, God-gifted conduits for releasing stress and grabbing hold of his peace. Whether it’s art, reading, music, outdoor activities, or any other healthy endeavor, we set ourselves up for success when we make room for joy.
For example, artists could keep a sketch pad and pencils, or a coloring book and markers, at the ready for times when stress sucks the joy out of the atmosphere. If music is the prescription for stress, create a playlist, purchase the sheet music, or load the CDs for tunes in an emergency situation.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22, NASB95
5. Renewed mind – transformed life.
When the reality of stress hits, fight back with the truth. This is truly a battle fought in the mind. Earlier in this article, we were reminded to spend time in God’s Word and create a source of selected scriptures for exposing stress.
Here we choose to apply those scriptures by meditating on them when stress gets the upper hand. Meditating goes beyond reading and reciting. Meditating means focusing on what God’s Word states above what our source of stress claims. We know when we move from simply reading God’s Word to trusting his Word when the clutch of stress relents.
Meditating on a passage of scripture is a great way to memorize God’s Word, and utilizing sticky notes make it easy to post his Word wherever you go!
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2, NASB95
6. Victory of our faith.
We are often our own worst enemies when it comes to our thoughts – especially what we think of ourselves. Another one of the ways to manage stress is derived from our time in God’s Word is learning who we are in Christ – how God sees us, and then choosing to believe what he says is true.
Gleaning truths from scripture that conquer what stress shouts makes a great bookmark to keep on hand – and give away! For example, stress says you can’t overcome this, but God says you are an overcomer in Christ. (1 John 5:4-5 NASB95)
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:4-5, NASB95
7. Accept His Rest
None of us are superhuman, but many of us live as though we are. We need a break from all the physical and mental doings of our days. It’s becoming quite a challenge to experience downtime in our hyper-connected culture. But we must make healthy choices regarding rest. Not only do we need proper sleep, but we also need to experience times when we disconnect from the busyness of life which is conducive to creating stress.
Here’s a test for all of us. If the idea of silencing all devices that keep us “on call” all the time creates stress, it’s time to go to Jesus and take a break. Let’s choose to trust God with our fear of not being there to answer every, single call, text, or email on demand.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28, NASB95
Much of life consists of circumstances and events that are out of our control, which always has the potential to create stress – even for those who know Christ as Savior. But developing healthy coping mechanisms for conquering stress is not only within our control, it’s completely possible because of Christ.
God gifted us His Son, His Word, His people, and the ability to choose well. May we all find motivation in the fact that choosing to prepare does little good when we don’t follow through in faith.
When stress heckles, “You don’t have the will to fight,” let’s unmask it before the Lord in faith.
Whether we choose to create a journal, print a prayer, or create a bookmark isn’t a make-or-break action for conquering stress. Those are simply suggestions for helping us stand firm when stress sneaks around. Our coping mechanisms are the truths themselves. Turning to God in faith is how we not only cope with but conquer, the stress in life.
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If you’re looking for additional ways to manage stress beyond this article, please browse the online counselor directory and contact our reception team to schedule a counseling appointment. We would be happy to meet with you!
“Under Pressure”, Courtesy of Jeshoots.com, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pray”, Courtesy of Chris Liu, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Beach Overlook”, Courtesy of Giorgio Trovato, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bible and Journal”, Courtesy of Carolyn V, Unsplash.com, CC0 License