Pauls Place
A place of reflection, joy and wonder

Stress

What Causes Stress?

Anything that makes you tense, angry, frustrated or unhappy.

Mt 26.63 Eph 4.26 Gal 2.21 1 Peter 4.14

Factors that stress some people give others excitement.

This means that one persons stress may be another persons pleasure. Do people in your house, family of church have different stresses to yourself? Have you recognised this? Does something that someone does stress you out but does not effect them?. Many family arguments are ignited through one persons stress being another persons pleasure?.

Mark 9 33-37 Romans 12.18

Once you realise this it can be a point of discussion with the person involved. Just as you had not realised the difference then they too may not know. Medically a certain amount of stress is good for us. How is this the case?.

When we have to face up to a challenge or we are made to get on with some job we do not want to do, we often find that we can achieve targets we have been set. We then feel a lot better having done it. We must remember to do this with Gods help and with faith.

James 2.18 James 2.20 Mt 19.26 Mark 10.27

Can you think of a situation in your life where this is has happened?.

Creating Stress

It is a fact that people create mild stress in their lives to overcome periods of dull routine in their Christian walk. This can be directly associated with many areas of our Christian walk at church, home or work. Most people do not even realise that they are doing it.

Do you do create stress because of dull routine? If things seem to be going to good do you start looking for something wrong? Most people deny that they do it.

Facing challenges with God

Facing challenges with God and overcoming them stops us from getting bored.

James 1 2-4 James 1.12 Heb 12 1-3 Rom 5 3-5

Effects of Stress

Too Much Stress

Too much stress, however, affects our health and well being, and may interfere with our jobs home church and social lives. Repeated, continuing, severe stress has a weakening and demoralising effect, which may make it more difficult to do anything about factors that are causing stress.

Prov 3 7-8 Prov 15.30 Col 2.21 Eph 4.4

Our Character

Just how we respond to pressure is determined by our characters, and by our personal disabilities and illnesses. These dictate how we react to difficulties with relationships, both at home, at work , in church and to practical problems over money, work and housing.

Prov 22.11 1 Cor 13 1-12 Gal 5.22

A Question Of Adjustment

As we grow and mature we become better at knowing what to expect in our every day life, and about what to do about things that upset us. We become better at dealing with the unexpected. We learn to make adjustments in attitude, the way we behave, in order to understand and to cope.

Usually this is straight forward and we are hardly aware that we are coping with stress. When events of major importance take place, however such as marriage, birth or the death of someone close, our reactions and the way we cope are more obvious to us.

2 Cor 10.5b Eph 3.11-12 Heb 4.16

To Live Successfully With Stress

In order to live successfully with stress, we need to spend more time prayerfully considering the sources of stress in our lives.

Ps 46.1 Prov 8.21 Prov 16.3

Seeking God as to whether our physical and emotional responses to these are sensible and useful and in line with His word.

Job 22.21 Ps 55.22

Are our reactions to stressful situations preventing us from coping and allowing God to take control and for us to do His will?

Jer 32.27 Ps 68.19

Studies have shown that the ability to cope is partly inborn but it is more a question of training, upbringing and practise.

Ps 35.27b Ps 56.18 Prov 3.5

A survey by the Health and Safety Executive has shown that half a million Britons suffer illnesses related to stress at work, and this is probably an underestimate.

Overcoming Stress

Take heart although almost everyone is under some form of stress, only a few ever respond

by developing a physical or emotional illness that requires specialist help.

This has been medically proven.

The enemy would like us to believe that we are going insane.

In most cases we are actually not coping with stress .

Have you ever felt you are going insane when coping with stress?

Our becoming insane is of course not true, it is a lie from Satan.

Stress is not insanity.

As bad as it might be and effect us we are not having a mental breakdown.

Phil 4.19 Rom 8.32 Isa 41.13

What we are dealing with is stress. Pray and ask God to confirm this to you.

Learn to recognise the tactics of the enemy.

Key Points

Stress is caused by anything that makes you tense, angry, frustrated or unhappy

One persons stress may be someone else’s enjoyment

A certain level of stress is good for us

Too much stress affects our health and well being

There is every reason to have hope that you will be able to overcome stress in your life

Ask God to give you hope to believe that

you can overcome stress in your life.

Sources of Stress

We would become extremely bored if nothing ever happened in our lives. However any major

change needs to be balanced with our ability to cope.

Life Events And Stress

Events

Stress
Rating

Death of husband or wife

Divorce or marital separation

Jail Term

Death of close family member

Personal injury

Loss of job

Moving house

Marriage

Very High

Marital reconciliation

Retirement

Serious illness of family member

Pregnancy

Sex difficulties

New child

Change of job

Money problems

Death of close friend

High

Family arguments

Big mortgage or loan

Legal action over debt

Change in responsibilities at work

Son or daughter leaving home

Trouble with in laws

Outstanding personal achievement

Wife begins or stops work

Start or finish of school

Change in living conditions

Revision of personal habits

Trouble with boss

Moderate

Change in work hours or conditions

Change in schools

Change in recreation

Change in church activities

Change in social activities

Small mortgage or loan

Change in sleeping habits

Change in contact with family

Change in eating habits

Change in contact with family

Change in eating habits

Holidays, Christmas

Minor violations of law

Low
 

 

What Factors Effect You

To help discover the source of stress, spend time in prayer thoughtfully asking Him to reveal

to you whether there are social, physical or emotional factors that are effecting you:

3 Jn.2 Ps 4.3 Isa 55.6 Isa 65.24 Eph 6.18

  • How many tea/coffee/caffeinated drinks are you having?
  • How much are you smoking?
  • How much alcohol are you drinking?
  • Are you taking enough exercise?
  • Could you be ill?
  • Is there some new element in your life?
  • Has there been any change in general circumstances?
  • Have longstanding problems recently become worse?
  • Is someone close to you facing difficulties that affect you?

Life Events

When evaluating the impact of life events and social change as a cause of stress, we also

need to take into account the fact that they tend to be particularly stressful when they are:

  • Unpredictable
  • Unfamiliar
  • Intense
  • Unavoidable
  • Inevitable

Eph 6.18 Ps17.4b Ps 23.4 Ps 34.7 Ps 91.5

Often the cause of stress is not so obvious and may need some careful thought or talking

through with others to bring it out in the open.

Sometimes we may never find the answer why we are suffering from stress and very

occasionally stress does come out of the blue.

We have to trust in God for all areas in our lives.

This is not always and easy thing to do.

2 Sam 22.31 Ps 40.4

Most times we can trust God for some areas of our lives but not others.

Ps 20.7-8 Ps 25.2 Ps 37.3-5

Do you find it difficult to trust God?

Do you trust God for some things but not others?

Life Seasons

Ecc 3. 1-8

You may get a clue about stress levels from considering the season of life you are in.

In the late teens, many major decisions have to be made for the first time.

In mid-life responsibilities are often heaviest and most dramatic.

In old age there may be illness, deaths in the family and money problems to cope with on

your own.

You should also prayerfully consider the seasons of life that those close to you are in. Crying

babies, bed time blues, little monsters, know-it-alls, getting to school, teenage rebels. No

parent gets it right every time.

Conflicts in Your Life

Ask yourself whether there is anything that you would like to sort out.

For example:

  • Do you have continual disagreements about someone or something?
  • Is some situation leaving you with a feeling that you are not good enough, or that it is all your fault?
  • Are you taking, or being made to take an unaccustomed role.
  • Are you being asked to carry too much responsibility?
  • Do you have unspoken fears or frustrations about your life?

Often stress is a build up of related or unrelated factors of these kinds.

If you settle down quietly and list the stresses in your life, you may be surprised and relieved

to discover some of the stresses are ones you can eliminate.

Rom 8.35 Rom 8.18 2 Peter 2.9 Ps 28.7 Ps 29.11 Isa 41.10

The Warning signs of stress

The warning signs that stress may be effecting your health vary considerably from person to

person.

Most of us, however have our own usual stress response.

This might be headaches in one person, or an outbreak of eczema or diarrhoea in another.

Usually the first signs of stress are changes in our emotional life or behaviour, and at times

the differences can become more noticeable to others than they are to us.

  • What is your response to stress?
  • How do you deal with this response to stress?
  • How should we respond as a Christian?

Ps 103.3 Ps 119.113 Isa 59.19b Ps 46.10a Prov 4.23

Emotional Reactions

The most important changes to watch out for are increases in tension, irritability and

moodiness.

Small irritations may seem unbearable if they come on top of stress, and can cause a major

outburst or upset.

There may also be changes in appetite or weight: some people lose interest in food where as

others have a constant desire to eat.

Here are some examples to different emotional reactions to stress.

  • Feeling under pressure
  • Feeling tense and unable to relax
  • Feeling mentally drained
  • Being constantly frightened
  • Increasing irritability and complaining
  • Feeling conflict
  • Frustration and aggression
  • Restlessness, increasing inability to concentrate, or to complete tasks quickly
  • Increased tearfulness
  • Become more fussy, gloomy or suspicious
  • Being unable to take decisions
  • Impulses to run and hide
  • Fears of imminent fainting, collapse or death
  • Fears of social embarrassment or failure
  • Lacking in ability to feel pleasure or enjoyment

Physical reactions

Physical reactions to strong emotions were designed by God to make us react in certain

situations .

When we are in danger. What happens to our body is our pulse and blood pressure increase,

we breath more rapidly and our ears and eyes become more alert.

These changes are the result of the action of stress hormones released into the blood

circulation in response to the event.

When stress response goes on for a long time, or occurs frequently and at the wrong time, it

may lead to a wide range of unpleasant feelings.

The number and nature of physical feelings differ greatly between people.

Dealing with physical reactions to stress

Sit down quietly and pray. Read allowed the word of God that relates to your physical

reaction and claim it in your life.

Have lists of scriptures on hand that relate to your own physical reactions.

"Thou hast given him his hearts desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips", Ps 21.2

Behavioural Reactions

The behaviour of people under stress can change quite considerably. Often they hate to be

alone and make efforts to seek out support from family and friends.

Some may become withdrawn and indifferent.

They seem to have lost interest in others and even start to turn down invitations because

everything feels as if it will cause too much trouble.

They continually seek reassurance and can become indecisive.

They change their mind a lot and may speak fondly of someone one moment and find them

completely useless the next.

They may be tearful, difficult and complaining, and often expect other to be impossibly

understanding of them.

There may be changes in sexual habits (a loss of interest) and the previously mild-mannered

may become verbally or physically aggressive.

A person who used to be fairly relaxed may become rigid and obsessive .

Often the person under stress denies these behavioural changes but they are usually very

obvious to other people.

As some you can trust and who sees your behaviour and ask them if they have noticed any

changes in your behaviour. Do not be cross with them for telling you the truth.

The difficult thing about stress is recognising it.

Once you have recognised you are suffering from stress you should be able to identify and

with the power of Jesus tackle any underlying causes?

How might we do this? As a suggestion try:

Keeping a record

First of all list all your signs of stress. Note how severe they are and for how long they have

lasted.

List all the possible causes you can think of and sort them into categories. Remember that

the series of minor irritations may be more distressing than the major problems of life. Sort

them into those that have a practical solution. Those that you know will get better anyway.

Those that you can do nothing to change.

What do you think we should do now?

Letting Go Of Our Stress To God

Those that fall into the second and third groups can not be changed through stress and

worry?

Should we get stressed and worried over certain situations in our lives?

Mt 6.27 Mt 6.25 Mt 10.19

Satan attacks our faith. He tries to bring unbelief into our minds.

 

Believing Vs Unbelief

“Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 2 Chr 20.20

"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." Isa 7.9

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Mt 21.22

"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth…." Mk 9.23

"Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mk 9.24

What do these scriptures mean in our lives?

Faith

Romans 10.17 Heb 11.16

As we use Gods word daily, we are taking God at his word! So many answers to prayer do

come because God will not violate His Word.

Faith is a necessary ingredient. By using His Word in prayer and supplication with

thanksgiving as we are instructed, God will honour it.

Why will God Honour our prayer?

One of the reasons is because our faith is being built up as we speak His Word.

Controlling Your Lifestyle

Too much to do and too much responsibility? To avoid feeling overwhelmed you can divide

chores into what you ‘must do’ what you ‘should do’ and what you ‘need not’ do. The

following points may help you.

  • Plan a daily or weekly timetable of activities. Try to include something new or different  each day.
  • Plan for the future and do not dwell on past mistakes or disappointments.
  • Cut down on smoking, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, exercise regularly, eat proper meals, get enough sleep.
  • Find time for rest and relaxation.
  • Involve God, your family and friends in helping to change your lifestyle.
  • Spend more time in prayer and reading the bible.

Changing Your Thinking

To change the way you think you need to take captive every thought and make it obedient to

Christ. These suggestions may help.

Think about your thinking. Reward your successes and challenge your criticisms with the

word of God.

Look out first and record unhelpful thoughts that pop into your mind without any effort on your

part, that do not fit the facts, that you do not question, that do not edify you or another

person, that are difficult to switch off. To begin with write down as much as possible and

bring them to the Lord in prayer. Fast effective responses will become easier with practice.

Learn to recognise unhelpful ways of thinking and substitute them with helpful and more

realistic thoughts from the Bible. By regular practise this will become easier. Start off by

writing unhelpful thoughts down until you get the hang of it.

 

Resist the temptation of thinking about unhelpful thoughts . Beware of making excuses about

why you should think about unhelpful thoughts. Ignoring the problem will not make it go

away.

Record as many unhelpful responses to the thoughts as possible. You may have to record

quite a lot of unhelpful responses at first. Pray and ask God to give you helpful responses to

unhelpful thoughts. Get a scripture for these responses and claim them out loud. Effective

responses will become easier.

Remember the most important person to get involved in your thoughts is Jesus through the

Holy Spirit. Only God knows our thoughts not Satan.

Twenty Questions To Help You Deal With Unhelpful Thoughts

  1. Is it a thought or is it a fact?
  2. Jumping to conclusions?
  3. What is the alternative?
  4. What is the effect on me of thinking this way?
  5. What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  6. What is the scriptural answer to this?
  7. Am I thinking in black and white terms?
  8. Are the issues really as clear cut as ‘always versus never’ and ‘everything versus nothing’?
  9. Is everything wrong because of one event or change?
  10. Are my weaknesses over shadowing my strengths?
  11. How appropriate is blame, do I need to forgive?
  12. How much of this is to do with me, do I need to repent?
  13. How perfect can I be. What are Gods standards for this?
  14. Have I got double standards?
  15. Is there only a down side?
  16. Is everything likely to be a disaster?
  17. Are things out of proportion?
  18. Am I living life the way it is or the way I want it to be?
  19. Have I asked God to change this thought?
  20. What can I do with God to affect the outcome?

Defences Against Stress

Physical Defences

Jn 15.12 Rom 12.10 Isa 40.29 Mt 8.17 1th 5.16 Jn 16.20

We can improve our defences by leading a healthy, enjoyable life and by looking after others.

Not Enough Sleep

You must ensure that you get enough sleep.

How much sleep do you need?

Do you get enough sleep?

How does lack of sleep effect you?

The amount needed varies from person to person.

It is probably true to say more is needed in times of stress than when life is running smoothly

without any problems.

Prov 3.24 Ps 127.2 Ps 16 7-9

Do you have sleep problems when you are stressed?

What do you do if you can not sleep through stress?

Stress can also cause you to fall asleep at the wrong times.

Your body can get so exhausted that you fall asleep when

listening to a sermon at church, when driving or as soon as you sit down.

Ps 132.4 Prov 20.13 Rom 13.11

What do you do about this?

Sleep Too Much

Beware of taking too much sleep it can make you feel almost as bad as too little.

Ps 132.4 Prov 20.13 Rom 13.13

 

This is a study guide based on a booklet by Maxi Edgington.

If there is help in this study that encourages and challenges you, we praise the Lord for the deliverance of the influences of stress in your life.