The human fight-or-flight response can save your life when you're in danger. But if stress has you in a constant state of high alert—adrenaline pumping to prepare you for extreme action—you will experience serious health problems. Loss of memory, depression, sleep disruptions, digestive troubles, and high blood pressure can all come from excessive stress.Need Help Now?
Responding to Pressure
Work Isn't the Problem
People often blame their jobs for putting them under so much pressure. But work itself isn't the problem. When God created man, He gave him a physical body designed to work, rest, and be fruitful. Genesis 2:15 says, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it."
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28).
Work was then, and is now, still good, but the difficulty, futility, and frustration of work caused by sin makes it painful and stressful. God isn't saying "stop working," or that He will make work easier, but that work exists in a broader context. Work was to be understood in relation to Him. We work six days and then rest because God worked six days and then rested.
As those made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), we cooperate with our design when we reflect His rhythms of work and rest. We also get better at dealing with the burden of work, also known as stress.
Work Heartily, Not Frantically
Work-related stress often comes from trying to earn the approval of people. If we find our sense of worth in what others think of us—rather than in the God who made us—we are prone to frustration. But when we work for God's glory, knowing that He will reward those who seek Him in faith (Hebrews 11:6), we can give our all, and end each day at peace, regardless of what other people think about us.
Counter Stress with Rest
The necessary counterbalance to working heartily—giving it your full energy—is resting Biblically. Sleep is essential to rest. Psalm 127:2 says, "It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep."
God gave us rest, perhaps in part to remind us that we are not invincible. There are limits to what we can accomplish in a day, and we are dependent on God every day for life and breath (Acts 17:25).
Recreation, Not Escapism
Sadly, what passes for recreation in our culture is more like escapism. Netflix binging, social media scrolling, marathon video gaming, anything done from the comfort of your couch, with a device that asks little of you, is deceptive "rest." Rather than refreshing you, it often leaves you feeling groggy and lethargic, and even wearier than when you started.
True recreation re-creates your inner being. It revives your mind and leaves you feeling more alert and energized, even when it's the sort of activity that makes your body truly tired. Such activities require something of you. Whether it's reading a challenging, thought-provoking book, learning an instrument, planting flowers, painting a picture, or talking with a dear friend over coffee (in person), true recreation is a physical (versus digital) activity that has the ability to replenish your body and soul.
Just as working heartily as unto the Lord reorients our work, resting to the glory of God reprioritizes our evenings and weekends. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
When you feel the weight of life's pressures, remember that if you are in Christ, you don't bear them alone. He will lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:7). And God won't give you more than He can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).