This is a follow up to a brief post Don’t Worry – Luke 12:22-34
Stress is a common fixture in the modern world, especially in times of economic uncertainty. In certain situations stress can be positive, however, usually it’s not. Stress can be a hindrance to your health and your mental clarity. In extreme cases, stress can result in serious, long-term health problems.
So… what’s a person to do? There are several strategies to dealing with stress. My personal favorite is meditation. Of course, meditation has much loftier goals of which stress reduction is merely a side affect. Exercise is also a great option with plenty of additional health benefits.
This article makes a good point about reducing your stress by evaluating the sources of your stress and your ability to influence those sources. In other words, if you cannot do anything to change the situation, perhaps you can change how you feel and react to the situation. What you stress about reveals some of the underlying assumptions about what you feel is important in the world. In a sense, you choose what to be stressed out by and how severe that stress it.
Take for a example, an exam for an important college (or even high school) class. You want to do well, and who knows, it may have a significant impact on your future. However, the more you stress out about it, the less likely you are to perform at your best. Stress can reduce your ability to focus via mental fatigue as well as by crowding your mind with negative thoughts. (See this list of common symptoms caused by stress.) At a certain point, you are better off caring a little less about the test, the class and your future, if only temporarily, for the sake of your performance. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
For a more spiritual approach to stress, see this article in which Jesus reveals that if your heart is in the right place, then you have nothing to stress about. This is particularly poignant, as, I’m willing to bet, the most common sources of great stress are imposed upon us through social factors. The desire for success, material possessions, power, or influence is prevalent in our society, and yet, is ultimately a futile goal, and not at all important in the context of Jesus’s message.
So do yourself a favor, think about what stresses you out, and ask yourself, is it really worth the suffering?