As we have written repeatedly on this blog, stress is often misunderstood. Many people think stress is the unusual demands made on you. They believe stress management is management of unusual demands.
- A parent may believe that family stress management consists of someone making the children perfect.
- An employee may think that work stress management is a simple matter of the employer reducing the work load.
- A self-employed entrepreneur may judge stress management to be within his or her grasp by demanding less of self.
- Students are inclined to suppose that student stress management resides solely in educators’ power to reduce assignments.
The missing link in each of these beliefs about stress management is a proper definition of stress. Stress is never the out of the ordinary demands that you yourself make on you. Nor is stress the demands that someone else makes on you. Stress is not the unusually large pile of dishes or extra huge baskets full of dirty laundry. It is not the screaming of children who today, for some odd reason, refuse to play nicely together. Stress is not the “in box” filled with a huge, time-sensitive project. The definition of student stress is not every teacher assigning a paper, all of which come due on the same date.
Stress is our response to unusual demands. The response may be positive, producing beneficial “eustress” or good stress. The response may be negative, creating debilitating “distress” or bad stress.
Successful Stress Management
To be successful, therefore, stress management must go to the root of the problem. That root is your attitude toward life in general. It is your belief about life.
- If you do not believe in God, or you believe God has no control over demands made on you, you are more likely to fight against those demands. You may get angry at people or circumstances that force unusual demands on you. You may take it as a personal affront. You view it, consciously or subconsciously, as a loss of power. You cannot control your own life the way you want to, because someone else is tossing in unusual demands. You react negatively in an attempt to regain full power. The result is stress – distress.
- If you believe in God, and recognize that He is in control of everything that happens to you, including unusual demands others make, your response to those demands will more likely be one of willing acceptance. You trust God to allow into your life only what you can handle. You rely on God to make you able to handle the “over-the-top” demands. You do not see it as a loss of power on your part. You see it as a part of what God wants you to do. You react positively as a happy, faithful child. You turn potential debilitating distress into beneficial eustress.
Those with the second understanding of life are far more likely to achieve successful stress management. By going to the root of the problem – their view of the world and their place in it, they are able to respond appropriately.
The key to successful stress management, therefore, is a proper understanding of God and our relationship to Him.