The people's voice of reason

Do You Need A New, Healthy Strategy to Handle Stress?

Solomon was one of the wisest people who ever lived according to the Bible! And he wrote most of the book of Proverbs which is considered part of the wisdom literature of the scriptures. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon tweets out many great nuggets of truth and wisdom which are still so practical today for our everyday lives. In the book of Proverbs, we can find three keys to reducing stress in our lives.

Stress is a major factor in our lives! Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans consider themselves to be extremely stressed out? Did you know that only 37% of Americans say they handle stress in a healthy way? That means 67% don't handle stress in a healthy way. Also, did you know that the total cost for stress related illnesses is over $100 billion in the US? All that to say that stress is a major life issue for all Americans.

So, how do we handle all that stress in a healthy way? Might you need a new strategy? What does Solomon recommend?

First, we need to line up our priorities!

" An intelligent person aims at wise actions, but a fool starts off in many directions."

Solomon , Proverbs 17:24 (GN)

The key here is to put first things first. You simply don't have time to do everything so you must prioritize. Make a list of your priorities and ask what is most important. Learn to say no. Sometimes you have to say no to some really good things in order to say yes to the best things.

We must learn the difference between the urgent and the important things. If something is urgent and important we should do it now. For example, if your boss wants to meet with you, you have a deadline, your hair is on fire, there is an earthquake or the dog has to go out. You get the point. Do it now!

Other things are important but not urgent. For example, planning your calendar, discovering your passions, making a difference. Decide when to do it.

Some things are urgent but not important. Interruptions, emails, returning phone calls or unplanned visits from someone name a few. Deal with it or delegate it.

And then there are the things in life that are neither urgent nor important. These would be things like trivia, distractions, time wasters, gossip, or mindlessly surfing the internet. You can probably just dump or delete these.

Second, lighten up your attitude!

"Anxiety in a mans heart weighs it down." - Solomon , Proverbs 12:25

"Being cheerful keeps you healthy."

Solomon, Proverbs 17:22

Remember, stress is not an event, it is an attitude. That's why two different people can be in the same situation and one stresses out and the other one is cool as a cucumber. Why? Stress is not an event. It is directly related to our attitude and how we handle it. How we respond to stress makes all the difference.

Humor is the great stress reliever. It acts like a shock absorber in life. It doesn't change the situation we are in, but it can change our perception.

Medical research tells us that when we laugh or smile, our body releases more T cells which improve our immune system. When we smile or laugh, our brain also triggers the release of a huge dose of endorphins which are the natural pain killers of the body that help relax us.

Somehow, way before modern medicine, Solomon knew this three thousand years ago as he states in Proverbs 14:30 which says, "A relaxed attitude lengthens a persons life." A cheerful heart is good medicine is another quote from this wise sage.

So, what do we need to do to lighten our attitude. Hang around people that make you laugh and smile. Relax. Be more flexible....because things in life rarely go as planned.

Third, look up to God!

"Reverence for God gives a person deep strength." Solomon, Proverbs 14:26 Trust in the Lord completely ... in everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.."

Solomon , Proverbs 3:5-6

Reverence is simply taking God seriously. It is putting God first. These texts represent a great promise.

Stress in your life should be a warning light indicating that you are taking yourself too seriously and not taking God and His promises seriously enough! So, we need to make time for God in our lives each day. You may say, "I'm too busy to make time each day for meditation or reflection." If you are that busy, then you are way too busy my friend.

Here are my suggestions if you want to handle stress in a wise way. You can take 15 to 20 minutes at the start of each day to:

1) Pray through these three keys to handling stress given to us by Solomon. Your prayers could be something like - "God, help me to line up my priorities today in a way that honors you. Help me to lighten up my attitude today and laugh and smile more. Help me to look up to you Lord today. Help me to take you seriously and put you first.

2) Read these wise words of Solomon and take time to really reflect and mediate on them.

3) Put Solomons wise advice into action and practice these keys to reducing and handling stress in your life!

Why not begin this New Year with a new strategy for handling your stress? Would you benefit from applying some fresh and healthy ways to deal with the stress in your life? I'm praying that all of us will handle our stress in more fruitful and God honoring ways in 2018 .... starting now!

Blessings and Peace in the New Year!


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