Feeling Stressed?

Feeling Stressed?
It probably comes as no surprise that most Americans have reported a severe escalation in their stress levels for the year 2020. Political upheaval, social unrest, and a nerve-wracking global pandemic have conjoined to expand the stressors of life far beyond the normal. With the drastic changes related to COVID-19—including social isolation, job insecurity or loss, and health challenges or fear of illness—uncertainty reigns and anxiety has skyrocketed. Indeed, polls show that more than half of Americans worry about themselves or family members contracting the coronavirus. Other major concerns include the negative impact on society and the economy and the ability to obtain adequate food and supplies.

Even more troubling, over a third of Americans believe their mental health has been severely affected by COVID-19, and a quarter report trouble concentrating on anything other than the pandemic.1, 2

That’s a lot of stress!

Unfortunately, unmanaged stress can cause or worsen a wide array of physical and emotional health problems. Yet while many stressors are outside our control and impossible to avoid, we can take practical steps every day to minimize the impact of stress on our lives. Here are some ideas that may help to lighten your load:

  1. Make room for your feelings. Avoiding, ignoring, or masking your emotional turmoil can worsen your anxiety.3
  2. Work on correcting negative thinking patterns. Providing truthful, balanced statements to yourself, as revealed in the Bible, is a much healthier option. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
  3. Shun fear-provoking negative information—including the news—as much as possible. Instead, practice realistic but optimistic thinking. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
  4. Lighten up. Take a few minutes to read something humorous, watch the antics of playful animals, or remember a time when something funny happened to you. Smile!
  5. Take regular relaxation breaks during the day. Do something calming; try deep breathing, listening to soothing music, or closing your eyes to meditate on a verse of Scripture.
  6. Do something for someone else. Divert your attention from yourself to someone who is also suffering. Call, text, or write a letter of encouragement to a friend, neighbor, or family member.
  7. Count your blessings—it’s uplifting and energizing! Follow sound health principles. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercise, fresh air, and sunlight. Stay well hydrated and eat a healthy diet. Avoid binge eating and other harmful escapes that could damage your health.
  8. If you find your stress or anxiety too overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a trusted friend or family member—or even from a mental health professional. Many churches offer confidential psychological counseling within a biblical framework.
  9. Lean on the Lord. Our all-powerful God “is gracious and full of compassion” (Psalm 111:4), and He longs to calm the storm within. Talk to Him—often! Jesus’ recommendation is that we “always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). He wants you to “[cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

    1. Remember, even when you feel isolated, fearful, and stressed, you are never alone, for Jesus has promised to be “with you always” (Matthew 28:20), and He “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). The all-powerful God of the universe will stand beside you and strengthen you for whatever circumstances you face today and tomorrow.
      1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7168412/
      2. https://yougov.co.uk/topics/international/articles-reports/2020/03/17/fear-catching-covid-19
      3. https://time.com/5163576/ignoring-your-emotions-bad-for-your-health/

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