Check out how these 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts can set YOU free from stress, worry, and anxiety!
Problems are part of life, but stress, worry, and anxiety don’t have to be. As I note in my book, God Help Me, This Stress is Driving Me Crazy! Finding Balance Through God’s Grace, as early as the mid 300’s AD St. Augustine observed that the press of troubles, the ups and downs of daily life, was different than oppression, which is what happens when we allow these troubles to separate us from God’s grace.
Modern psychologists use different language, but have come to the same conclusion. It isn’t what happens to us, but how we process it that determines the degree to which we are consumed by stress, worry, and anxiety in the face of life’s troubles. So, how can you process stress in a way that leads to resilience (i.e., a person’s stress-busting ability) instead of angst? Here are 6 graceful techniques you can use to overcome the stress, worry, and anxiety in your life.
6 Graceful Tips for Beating Stress, Worry & Anxiety
1. Pray- Research consistently shows that people who pray manage stress better than people who don’t. The grace one receives from prayer manifests itself in many ways that can’t be seen, but many way that can. It improves mental and physical health outcomes, makes you more resistant to disease, increases your hope and facilitates coping. When stressed, prayer should be mission #1.
2. Reflect- If prayer works, reflective prayer works best. Specifically, call to mind past times when you have been stressed and remind yourself how God has delivered you from those trials. Reflect on God’s goodness and mercy. Remind yourself of all the times you have felt God’s love in your life. Remember that scripture reminds us that God is not just faithful for a time. He is faithful always. If he has been faithful before, he will be faithful today. You can count on it.
3. Be Grateful–It can be hard to be grateful when you are feeling stressed, but reach down deep and praise God for his blessings anyway. This is what St Paul refers to as a “sacrifice of praise” (Heb 13:15), the hard fought, willful effort it takes to remember God’s blessings even when we don’t want to. Although we offer this sacrifice of praise to God, we are the greater beneficiaries. Intentionally calling to mind all the reasons we have to be grateful to God despite the problems we are currently facing helps to give us perspective and reminds us that our problems are transient. Yes, they are here today, but with God’s grace, they will be gone tomorrow, just like the problems of yesterday.
4. Don’t Internalize–People who manage stress better remind themselves that it is not their fault that bad things happen. Yes, it is their responsibility to handle those problems, but it is not their fault that problems occurred in the first place. Problems occur because sin exists and the world is broken. Saying that I can learn from my mistakes and take responsibility for fixing problems is different from sitting around and saying that I am to blame for my problems. Blaming yourself wastes the precious energy you need to recover and rebuild. Don’t internalize problems. Stuff happens. Move on.
5. Don’t Globalize–People who manage stress better also remind themselves that their problems don’t define them. Yes, they have a problem in this one area of their life but that is different than saying “My LIFE is ONE BIG PROBLEM.” The latter attitude is called “globalizing.” It involves taking a problem I have in one small–or relatively small–area of my life and letting it consume everything and define who I am.
6. Don’t Sign for the Damage–Just because you’ve been through stressful or traumatic events doesn’t mean you are–or must remain–damaged goods. In the words of Columbia University psychologist, Dr. George Bonanno, “exposure to potentially traumatic events does not predict later functioning. It’s only predictive if there’s a negative response.” In other words, the fact that bad things happen to us does not have to cripple us moving forward if we refuse to allow ourselves to be defined by them. What can we be defined by? Our strength in the face of trauma. Our courage in the face of trail. Our resourcefulness in the face of set-backs. And, of course, God’s faithfulness and love in the face of the darkness we experience
More Than Conquerors
There is not question that our days are filled with troubles and we are constantly beset by temptations to give in to stress, worry and anxiety but we can rejoice in the fact that we do not have to be victims of the problems we face. If we learn to respond to our struggles with resilience, we can, with God’s grace, be “more than conquerors” (Rom 8:37). We can become better, stronger, more faithful and effective people no in spite of the struggles we have been through, but because of them.
To discover even more stress-busting resources, check out God Help Me, This Stress is Driving Me Crazy! Finding Balance Through God’s Grace or contact The Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Catholic Tele-counseling Service to learn more about how you can work with a faithful, professional, Catholic counselor who can empower you to lead a more peaceful and abundant life.