Overcoming Stress

Written by Richard Pidgley (Birmingham UK)

Richard Pidgley is married to Lynne, has two adult sons and two super cute grandsons. Richard is an AoG minister who leads Millpool Hill Church in Birmingham U.K. Richard has an MA in missional leadership and loves to teach the Word of God. He also loves early morning trail running.

April 4, 2023

Stress is something that you can’t always see with your physical eyes, but it’s something that can negatively affect us all.
Yes, even people of faith and runners!
So let’s just look at what stress is, consider what triggers it and see how we can overcome it.

What is stress?

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension.
It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry or nervous.
Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.

In short bursts, stress can be positive as it can help you avoid disaster or danger, it can help you concentrate harder, be more productive and meet deadlines.
However, if you’re constantly under stress, it can have a negative effect on you, causing negative physical symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain and problems sleeping.
Stress can also cause emotional problems such as depression, panic attacks and anxiety and worry.

What causes stress?

Stress is usually a reaction to mental or emotional pressure.
It is often related to feeling like you’re losing control over something, but sometimes there is no obvious cause. 
When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

How to overcome stress?

Here are some things that can help us to overcome stress.

Practice the Pause

The Bible tells us to be still and to be aware of God.

“Be still, and know that I am God!”

Psalm 46:10 NLT

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” 

Psalm 46:10 MSG

Stepping out of traffic is always a good idea, to regroup and think about our spiritual well-being.
It is always good to regularly take some time out to be alone with God, and it is in those moments of sacred reflection that we can know assuredly that: 

  • God is our peace (Jehovah Shalom)
  • God is our power (Elohim)
  • God is our present comforter and counsellor (Jehovah Shammah)
  • God is our provider (Jehovah Jirah)

When life gets tough, being still in God’s presence can be a game-changing moment!

Go with the Flow

What we mean by going with the flow is that instead of fighting everything you don’t want or like, you can accept that you cannot change everything to suit you.
After all, resistance does sap up your energy!

I like things nice, tidy and in their place, but at Christmas, when my kids and grandkids visited from America, our home became filled with noise and little boys running around, leaving their mess everywhere. 

My natural reaction was to resist all of this.
However, I realised that I don’t get to see my family often, so rather than resist all the disruption to my ‘ordered’ life, I went with the flow and in doing so, saved myself from stress and enjoyed the ‘disruption’. 

In life we often categorise things into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and thereby resisting and stressing over the ‘bad’. 
However, if we learn to go with the flow we can trust the truth of the Bible that states,

‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them’.

Romans 8:28 NLT

This means that we need to trust God with all the details of our day-to-day lives.
We let things happen rather than trying to control what happens ourselves.

Laugh our Loud

Christian discipleship and our individual ministries is a serious business; we must always see the vital importance of sharing the gospel with others and making disciples.
We understand that our choices made today will echo in eternity! (That’s deep!) 

However, even in all this, we must not take ourselves too seriously.
Someone once said, ‘We make plans and God laughs!’.

Life can get very serious and laughter is a great safety valve as it can really help take some stress out of a difficult moment!
The Bible says,

‘A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.’

Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Hope for a Good Outcome

Worrying about the future is something many of us do, but it’s a misuse of our imagination.
The psalmist said ‘hope in God’ and that’s really good advice! 

God has the best plans for us and that’s why the bible says,

‘For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’

Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

God Almighty has plans for our lives from the cradle to the grave and to the vast expanse of eternity! 
God has GOOD plans for us, He’s not setting us up for disasters but rather a great future!
God wants us to relax and not stress about the future as it is in his hands.  

Stress and anxiety see the worst kind of future, but Hope says God has got this!
God works the night shift so that we can rest in Him and sleep!
At my lowest God is my HOPE.
At my darkest, God is my LIGHT.
At my weakest, God is my STRENGTH.
At my saddest God is my COMFORTER.

Go for a Run

There is nothing like going for a run to help smash the power of stress that may be forming a stranglehold in your life.
As Kingdom Runners, we know that running produces so much more than sweat!
Yes, the ‘runners high’ produced by released endorphins is a natural and God-created way to lift the human spirit from low mood often associated with stress. 

Running gives us a real sense of purpose, freedom and joy and these powerful things can demolish the stronghold of stress and anxiety very quickly.
That’s why you don’t have to run far or particularly fast to feel the huge benefits of running.
And whilst you’re running, there is also the opportunity to pray and worship as you listen to praise music through your earphones.

Conclusion 

Stress is something that can insidiously creep upon anyone of us or it  can come crashing upon us without warning like a crushing and suffocating avalanche. 
Stress in long exposure can be draining and even dangerous to our well-being and so, let’s consider: practicing the pause, toing with the flow, laughing out loud, believing for a good outcome and going for a run.

Q: Can you remember a time of extreme stress, what caused it, and how did it make you feel?

Q: What kind of situations in life do you think can cause people to suffer stress?

Q: Out of the things that you have thought of, do you see a pattern or common trigger to stress?

Q: What has God revealed to you in those moments of being still in His presence?

Q: What advice would you give to somebody who is not used to being still before God?

Q: Can you think of a time when you ‘went with the flow’ and it turned out ok?

Q: Why do we often insist on wanting to be in control?

Q: Do you think that Jesus laughed much? And if so what do you think caused him to laugh?

Q: Can you think of a tense, difficult moment when you found yourself laughing and it helped?

Q: What does ‘Hoping in God’ look like in our Christian lives?

Q: Does God’s plan for ‘Good’ mean that we are immune from sorrow and suffering in this life?

Q: When you run what emotions do you experience?

Q: Have you ever tried praying whilst running? If not, why not give it a go…

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