Friday, September 7, 2007

Four Steps to Manage Stress in My Life-(Step #1)

Good afternoon! This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I am running about four hours late today on posting this blog. I apologize and will try to do better Monday. I have been talking about anxiety and worry the past week. One of the things that adds anxiety to your life is stress, and one of the things that adds stress to your life is anxiety. I would like to continue looking at this area of anxiety by discussing "Four Steps to Manage Stress in My life." Now, for you melancholic personalities, this may drive you crazy, but we are taking one step at a time; one a day. I want to do it this way so we can focus each day that particular step, and ask God to help us with this one, before we move on to the next one. I am very excited about this study, and believe that God is going to speak to our hearts through it. All right, let's get started.

I want to begin with a little list of some of the things that happen in our lives when we begin to encounter stress to see if you can recognize yourself in any of these. These are symptoms of when stress has gotten really bad, when you're facing stress overload in your life. See if any of these Top Ten symptoms fit you.

1. Decision making becomes more difficult, both major and minor decisions.

2. Excessive daydreaming.

3. Increased use of cigarettes, alcohol or prescription drugs

4. Thoughts trail off while speaking or writing

5. You live with a fear of heart attack or another sudden illness.

6. Sudden outbursts of anger or hostility.

7. Paranoid ideas and mistrust of friends.

8. You dream of escape all the time.

9. Frequent spells of brooding and feelings of inadequacy.

10. Reversals in usual behavior.

If any of those ten fit you, you're a victim not just of stress but of stress overload. The funny thing about that is, we have come to accept normal stress, like that's ok. We're going to begin to deal with both today. Whether you're overloaded with stress or facing normal stress, how do you deal with stress?

Harris Survey says that one in three Americans say they live with stress every day of their life. Six of ten of Americans say they experience great stress once or twice a week. An article in Newsweek some time ago talks about the fact that stress has an accumulation factor in our lives and once you've felt stress the next time you experience stress it has a greater impact on you. As you go through your life, stress accumulates. It has more and more of an impact on us throughout our lives. That is why we can go through something and handle it fairly well, but then something else happen, that is minor and we EXPLODE. That is the accumulative nature of stress.

I want us to look together at some wisdom from the book of Proverbs, in the Old Testament of the Bible, about stress. Proverbs has great wisdom for all the practical areas of our lives and it has incredible wisdom to give us about how to deal with stress. What I'd like to do based on Proverbs, is go through a simple checklist of four of the greatest things that cause more weight in our lives. As we look at this checklist, think about some practical ways that we can begin to reduce stress right now along with some ways that we can continue to reduce it down the line

If you want to have less stress…

1. CHECK YOUR SCHEDULE

Stress comes from too great a weight and many of us have too much in our schedule. Anyone with an overcrowded schedule is going to have too much stress.

We all struggle with overcrowding our schedules and too much to do. I come to you as one fellow struggler to another and say, How do we deal with this overcrowded schedule? Proverbs 17:24 talks about what happens in many of our days when it says "An intelligent person aims at wise actions but a fool starts off in many directions."
That's the beginning of many of our days. We can't aim at two targets at once but we start off in twenty different directions at once and so at the end of the day we have this feeling of "How come I couldn't get it done?" We have so much to do we can't get anything done.

Dr. Richard Swenson in his book The Overload Syndrome quotes a mom who says, "I am so tired. My idea of a vacation is a trip to the dentist. I just can't wait to set in that chair and relax."

If you're feeling that way, you're overloaded. Your schedule is too full.

One popular magazine put it this way, "Technological advances have expanded the business day. Leisure time has shrunk. Bathing suited businessmen walk the beaches on Sundays with cellular phones stuck to their ears planning the next morning's meetings. Laptop computers find their way on vacations. The family icons in the 1990's were working couples picking up their children on the way home to dinner prepared by caterers or fast food chefs. Grieving time has shrunk. The divorce rate hovers nearest its highest in history, yet there's no time to pick up the pieces. 'Just snap out of it!' yells the therapist as he slaps his patient in a newspaper cartoon. The caption: 'Timesaving, single visit psychotherapy.'"

What's the result of all this busyness in our lives? Ecclesiastes 5:3 says it this way, "Being too busy gives you nightmares."

It has an impact on our lives, an impact on the way that we sleep, an impact on what we're going through. This busyness in our lives is overwhelming our lives. One in three Americans say, "I am rushed all the time." Something's wrong when we say that. We used to say, "Go with the flow." But it doesn't help to just go with the flow any longer because the flow is going faster and faster. And we don't know how to stop. Busyness, this rush, is a part of our work but it's also a part of our families and it's also a part of our play. How do we stop? How do we lessen the stress in our schedules?

Psalm 90:12 is a prayer, "Teach us to make the most of our time that we may grow in wisdom." God, teach me to use my time so that I may grow to be more and more a wise person, the kind of person You want me to be.

One idea for time improvement, for less stress of an overcrowded schedule: All of you have a schedule that's already overcrowded. There's already too much in it. For less stress don't add anything to your schedule without subtracting something from your schedule. If it's already overcrowded and you try to add something in, something's going to be subtracted anyway. So you don't add anything without intentionally subtracting something from your schedule.

Realize you can't do everything. Don't fall prey to the myth of the five percent more. This myth is "I can do five percent more." We all think we can do five percent more. So when an opportunity comes along at work we say, I'll do five percent more there. But that's not all there is. There's the thing with Little League that you'll do five percent more. There's basketball. The family vacation. Another project at work. All, "I'll do five percent more." Pretty soon with five percent at a time, it's fifty percent more, a hundred percent more. Then another opportunity comes our way and what do we say, "I can do five percent more!" Simple addition. If you're going to add five percent to an already crowded schedule, subtract five percent.

That's painful. It is difficult to do, but you'll be so glad you did it. Do it now. Right now in your mind decide, "I'm not going to add anything more to my schedule without deciding to subtract something." That one decision will make an incredible impact on our overcrowded lives.

One step further: decide right now, on this Friday afternoon to subtract something. Pray for God's wisdom as you do this. (Why not pray right now "Lord, please help me to have the courage to check my schedule, and be willing to subtract what I need to subtract)

Don't decide to subtract family time for golf, for instance. That is not a wise move. Subtract five percent and you will be amazed at the lessening of stress in your life. If you're going to have less stress, you and I are going to have to check our schedules.

I hope you will meditate on this truth this afternoon and through the weekend. Take it to God in prayer. God's Word tells us to bring everything to Him in prayer:

Phil. 4:6-7 (LB) "Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand."

John 14:1 Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God -- trust in Me."

The good news is that you can be honest before God about your stress and your schedule and He will give you direction. Remember, He is your Shepherd, and because of that, "I shall not want." I want to close with a quote from John Hagee about the Shepherd providing for us:

"I shall not want for joy, for in His presence is the fullness of joy. I shall not want peace, because He's the Prince of Peace. I shall not want assistance, because He is my burden bearer. I shall not want for prosperity, for He maketh my cup to runneth over. He supplies all of my needs according to His riches in glory. I shall not want health or healing, because He is the Great Physician. I shall not want a friend, because He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. I shall not want for anything at any time, for He has my all and all. He is everything the heart desires. He's everything your mind can imagine. May the Lord add His blessing to the reading of the Word." –Pastor John C. Hagee

I love you guys and hope you have a great "stress-free" weekend. I hope to see you Sunday morning in church for one of our morning services: 8:15 or 10:30. The title of the message I will be preaching is from Revelation 21:9-27 entitled, "The Ultimate Homecoming." Blessings!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

2 comments:

Andrea Ramsey said...

Pastor Rusty,
Thank you so much for your blog today. Life is so fast paced...having to go here....gotta be there by a certain time....and the basketball game....and football.....homework.....lunch money here and there....clean house...and I guess I'll have to cook cause we've gotta eat.(ha ha) Can you see how the devotion today will minister to me? Life is so busy and the sad thing is that at the end of the day when everything we think has to be done is done we realize that we haven't spent meaningful time in his word nor have we spent quality time with our spouse or children. God help us to see what really matters in life. God bless you.

Churchchipmunk said...

Pastor:
Thank you so much for sharing your heart this week. It has helped me in ministering to so many that have been affected by such tragic news (including myself) which affects the future of said individuals and those whose lives they touch. In our rushed lives and the demands of both the workplace and education, we too often forget to stop and enjoy the wonders of the Lord. I'm thankful for the opportunity God has given to me to live in the country...away from all the hustle and bustle of life. Being out here affords me the time to just sit and meditate on the things of God (even though it might be at midnight--haha) and all He expects from us.
May God continue to keep His Hand upon you and your family!
Resting in His Grace and Mercy,
Cindi