PROGRAM W-1804 – Part II
I have given you five biblical stress reducing ideas. Now I want to add five more.
- Remember the good things and good times.
One clear principle throughout Scripture is that we should remember all the good things God has done for us. Asaph wrote in Psalm 77:11, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” We can so easily forget God’s goodness to us and get bogged down with everyday life. If you’ll make yourself take time to remember and re-live a specific blessing in your life, it will make a difference.
When you’re with fellow believers, instead of small talk, ask them to share a blessing with you. Instead of letting the conversation degrade into complaining and negativity, direct it toward reciting God’s blessings. Start with a testimony of your own—a story of how God has blessed you in some specific way.
At dinner with some friends not long ago, one of them began to tell her story of how she came to saving faith. Half-way through she started to apologize for taking our time telling her story, but we all said, “Are you kidding? This is great; keep going.” Just hearing about God’s goodness is a great way to fill your mind with good things and shove out those stressful thoughts.
Have you told anyone lately what God has done for you? Do it today! Share your testimony; remember how God delivered you in the past. Recite out loud those occasions of joy and thanksgiving. You’ll be amazed how that will lift your spirits and reduce your stress.
- Talk less. Listen more.
James 1:19 tells us that “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak. . .” Right out of the Bible, this is a major stress reducer.
Are you a talker? Does your mouth go a lot? If you will just reduce the number of words you say by about 30% today, you’ll reduce your stress by even more. All that talking is stressful because it’s noisy and distracting. Stop talking and learn to truly listen to others.
A friend had an appointment with a couple recently, and at the conclusion of the appointment he was just exhausted. “What’s wrong?” I asked, and he explained that the woman talked non-stop the whole time. Her talk made him exhausted, and yet she probably doesn’t realize how much stress she puts on herself by simply talking too much!
Proverbs says a person of knowledge uses words with restraint, and if we answer before listening, that is our folly and shame. Today, be quick to listen and slow to speak. One of the great benefits of practicing that biblical directive is that it will greatly reduce your stress.
- Talk to yourself encouragingly.
All of us talk to ourselves, whether we admit it or not. I’ve discovered that many times we say all the wrong things, and we pour back into our minds so much negative input, that our stress levels go up.
If you’ll read the Psalms, you’ll see that David talked to himself. Often he said, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:6). Can’t you see this great man of God saying to himself, “Now, David, stop your whining and complaining and stop worrying about everything. Trust in God and praise him.”
Start listening to yourself talk and become aware of how much of your self-talk is negative. How often do you say or think things like “I’m so tired,” or “I can’t do this,” or “I don’t feel well,” or “I just cannot get along with her”? You may be surprised to discover that a great deal of your self-talk is negative. For example, when you look in the mirror, what do you say or think? “Oh, this hair! Oh, these wrinkles! Oh, these love handles!” Instead of focusing on the negatives, how about thanking God for the positives?!
I have to talk to myself quite often in order to keep my perspective. Here are a couple of the things I say to myself to help regain my perspective and reduce my stress:
- What difference will this make in 24 hours? I find that about 90% of what’s bugging me right now won’t make any difference tomorrow, so I get my perspective back and stop stewing over something which is truly insignificant in the long term. If 24 hours doesn’t work, move it out to a week, a month, or a year. If all else fails, try eternity. What difference will this make in eternity? You’ll find not too much gets past the 24-hour time frame.
- What’s the worst that could happen and what would I do if this “terrible” thing I’m worrying about actually occurs? Another good reminder that life will go on even if the worst does happen, and that regardless of what happens, Jesus will be there to see you through.
If you’ll start watching what you say to yourself and force yourself to say the right things, you will see an immense reduction in your stress levels. This is another reason why scripture memorization is so helpful. There’s nothing better than God’s Word poured into our minds to help us cope with stress. If you have some verses memorized, you can recite God’s Word to yourself.
- Live in today.
Jesus told us not to borrow trouble from yesterday or tomorrow. Just take what today brings you.
If you think about it, much of your stress is fretting over what happened yesterday or worrying about what might happen tomorrow. If you and I can learn to do what Jesus told us—to let yesterday and tomorrow take care of themselves and just live in today—we will be so much happier, so much more carefree, and our lives will be much less stressful.
Yesterday and tomorrow are out of your control. You only have today. Live in it, make the most of it, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
- Don’t worry!
Ask yourself, “Is this a worry or a concern?” If you can’t do anything about a situation, it’s a worry. If you can do something, it’s a concern. If it’s a worry, then you and I know right away what God’s Word tells us about worrying.
Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. . .Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25,27)
Worry is probably the greatest stress factor we deal with. It does nothing but harm. When the situation is beyond your control and you cannot do anything, instead of worrying, trust. Keep turning it over to Jesus and refuse to worry.
If you’re dealing with a concern, do what you can and then let go of it. Maybe you need to take some action in a stressful situation. The more you procrastinate, the more stress you’ll feel. Do what you can do, and then turn it over to the Lord. Once you’ve done all you can do, don’t let it turn into a worry.
If we all just practiced that one stress reducing principle from the Bible, I believe we’d probably reduce our stress levels by 50% or more.
The thing is, we all have to remember to practice these stress-reducing biblical principles. We have to incorporate them into our lives so that they become good habits. It takes effort and it takes time. But it will produce fruit!
When we’re stressed out, we’re not very good witnesses for Jesus, are we? People are attracted to peacefulness and calmness, and controlling the stress in our lives will make us more like Jesus.
I hope you’ll practice some of these ten ideas I’ve given you, from the Bible, to help control your stress. Take it from one who has to work at it all the time; I’m not naturally a “laid-back” person, so I struggle with controlling my stress levels. But these things work for me and they’ll work for you, too, because they are biblical principles.