WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 9, 2020
TOPIC: HOW TO MANAGE NEGATIVE STRESS
BY T. O. BANSO
“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands” (Psalm 119:143 New Living Translation).
You can’t live without stress in life. Talking about the trouble which came to him in Asia, Paul said he was pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that he despaired even of life. But God delivered him. The writer of Psalm 119 says, “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands” (verse 143 New Living Translation). He was able to manage the pressure and stress.
There is positive stress and there is negative stress. Positive stress is known as Eustress. This is good and beneficial stress. It supplies extra energy that helps to drive you to achieve goals. It manifests as excitement or a boost towards undertaking an assignment or meeting a deadline. Eustress increases motivation, alertness, efficiency, and self-esteem.
Negative Stress is also called distress. It is the stress that continues without relief – the body fails to relax even when there’s no stressor. Some of the identified common signs of distress are frequent headache, weakness, dizziness, neck pain, back pain, chest pain, jaw pain, neck ache and trembling of lips and hands, etc. However, these could also be symptoms of other ailments.
Too much stress can weaken your immune system making you vulnerable to sickness. It has been linked to high blood pressure, heart diseases, digestive problem, lung ailments, cancer, etc. Some people have committed suicide because of their inability to manage negative stress.
Tips for managing negative stress
1. Know your stress trigger – the sources of your stress – and avoid it as much as possible. For example, if lateness is your stress trigger, prepare early, and manage your time well. If a busy schedule is your source of stress, avoid a crowded schedule – say no to unnecessary tasks. Ecclesiastes 5:3a says, “being too busy gives you nightmares” (New Living Translation).
However, if the stress trigger is such that you cannot completely avoid, you may have to learn how to adapt to it or adjust it to make the most of it without allowing it to destroy you. Don’t brood over what you can’t change.
2. Take a break from your busy and overwhelming schedule. When you notice some symptoms of negative stress, it’s wise to take a break to cool down rather than insist you must continue because of the deadline. Don’t be dead before the deadline! “So what do people get for all their hard work? Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night they cannot rest. It is all utterly meaningless” (Ecclesiastes l 2:22-23 New Living Translation).
3. Spend time to meditate on the Word of God and to pray. It will refresh you; it will also give you the correct perspective of life (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:15, 27, 48, 78, 148). “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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 New King James Version).
4. Be realistic with your goals; don’t put yourself under unnecessary and avoidable stress. Be SMART with your goals. That is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. Or even be S.M.A.R.T.E.R, where the added E.R stands for Evaluate and Re-evaluate or Revise. Many people suffer distress from unrealistic goals when they fail to pay attention to these key factors.
5. Ask for and receive help from others. In Luke 5:7, Peter and those with him signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them with the great number of fish they had caught making their net to start breaking. Their partners helped them and their boats and Peter’s boat were filled with fish.
Don’t be deluded that you must do everything alone or that until you do it, it’s not the best. That will only crowd your schedule and trigger stress. Delegate assignments to competent hands and don’t be unnecessarily and excessively critical of their performance understanding that there’s room for improvement for everybody including you.
6 Share your feelings with spiritually mature Christians. They can be your pastor, family members, or friends. But don’t bottle up your concerns. You may implode. Sharing your concerns with others has a healing, soothing effect. They can give you Bible-based and Holy Spirit inspired counsel.
7. Lead a healthy life. Don’t adopt a lifestyle that increases negative stress in your life. Eat a healthy diet. Don’t engage in unhealthy habits to manage negative stress. These include cigarette smoking, drugs, alcohol consumption, under-eating, over-eating, withdrawal from people, etc. They ultimately make people’s lives worse.
In addition, find time to relax; have adequate sleep. God wants you to sleep well. The sleep of a laboring man (and woman) is sweet (Ecclesiastes 5:12). Psalm 127:2b says God gives His beloved sleep. Also, exercise your body regularly. Paul says, “Physical training is good” (1 Timothy 4:8 New Living Translation). Physical exercise is an effective therapy for stress.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, you’re my helper; I receive Your help to manage negative stress. Deliver me from a destructive lifestyle that increases negative stress in my life. Father, deliver everyone undergoing negative stress. Grant them wisdom for victory.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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