Stress: The Silent Killer
“I’m so stressed!”
“It’s been such a hectic season – I need another coffee… or a drink!”
“I need to escape. I need to sleep.”
In recent years, the word BUSY has become a buzzword. When asked how we are doing, “Busy!” often rolls off our lips, as if this is something to be proud of. In the modern world, we glorify stress and busyness like they are measurements of success, passion and vision.
However, the truth is that prolonged periods of busyness, resulting in high levels of stress, is the silent killer – of our health, our lives, our vision, our passion, our futures, our families. If we do not make an intentional effort to prevent stress, we will live mediocre lives and rather lose out on greatness than realise our dreams.
So, what exactly is stress?
Stress is our mental, physical and behavioural response to something that threatens our safety or wellbeing. It is often a healthy sign that something is wrong, and we need to adapt in order to preserve ourselves. Stress affects everyone, regardless of age or gender.
However, not all stress is bad. Too little pressure can lead to apathy and boredom. On the other hand, too much of it can result in serious physical, psychological, interpersonal, or performance problems. Most of us have, at some point, struggled with this kind of unhealthy stress.
Here is a quick biology lesson: When we stress, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode. A short burst of the adrenaline hormone gets released into the bloodstream. This is the body’s natural way of enhancing our abilities to get us out of trouble (like, say one had to run away from a lion), which is obviously a good thing. At the same time, a slower-release stress hormone called cortisol also gets released into the bloodstream. The problem is, these hormones are not meant to be secreted in the long term. When we live a life of constant stress, our bodies produce too much adrenaline and cortisol. Over time, this affects our health, sleep, metabolism, emotional state – everything.
And that is how stress silently kills us.
Most of us do not even realise how stressed we are, as we have become so accustomed to living under pressure that it almost seems reasonable.
Acknowledging stress in our lives
The first step to deal with stress is to identify if you have any of these typical stress symptoms:
- Self-destructive behaviours (e.g. substance abuse or alcoholism)
- Heart attacks or strokes
- Abdominal problems (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome)
- Recuring physical illness (e.g. colds and flu).
- Regular headaches or migraines
- High cholesterol
- Depression and anxiety
- Avoidance of priority tasks
- Rigidity or disorganisation
- Loss of sexual appetite
- Slow metabolism
- Multi-tasking, but getting nothing done
- Constant busyness
What causes stress?
Next, we need to understand the driving force behind stress.
Stress is rooted in fear. As explained before, it is the fight-or-flight response that we experience when faced with a threat. When we begin to examine our lives and pull back the layers of stress, there will always be an underlying fear driving us. Whether it is the fear of lack, the fear of failure, the fear of others’ opinions, the fear of losing someone, the fear of “what if…?”, the fear of the unknown. The list goes on and on.
So what is the answer?
The answer may not be the one we are looking for. There is no easy, quick fix, no pop-it-in-the-microwave solution.
There are many lifestyle changes we will need to make to reduce stress: effective time management, proper nutrition, exercise, strong supportive relationships and relaxation techniques – to name but a few.
However, these good habits might help in the short term, but if we do not deal with the root issue behind stress, our long-term fruit may not be great, and we will never live healthy, low-stress lives.
Just like a good tree produces good fruit without trying, and a bad tree produces bad fruit without trying, we also involuntarily produce the fruit that our roots allow us to produce. If our fruit is stress, anxiety and fear, this is an indication that something is wrong with our root system, and we will need to sort that out.
To produce good fruit, our roots need to be grounded in love and not fear. Love is more than an emotion – it is a spiritual force that has the power to destroy fear. Therefore, the only REAL, lasting antidote to stress is to be grounded in the love of God. The truth of God’s love deals with and destroys every single fear, every single time.
A life of rest, peace and abundance is not dependent on our circumstances, but rather on the inner security that we belong to the One who sustains and holds all life. Out of this safe place, our lifestyle comes into order. We have more purpose and vision. We start managing ourselves better. Our sleep improves (despite our circumstances). We engage in relationships from a whole and happy place (without being needy and fearing rejection). We do not worry about lack, because we know the One who provides.
This is an invitation…
Are you rooted in the love of God?
Do not settle for a life of anxiety, fear and stress. Stop glorifying busyness to feel productive and worthy.
Fight back, fight stress, get rooted in the love of God!
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