How do you manage the stress of world crises today alongside your own concerns, chaos and warp-speed existence?
It’s difficult for me, especially in today’s instant-access culture with people vying for our attention 24/7.
Created in God’s image, we were designed for connection with approximately 150 people and intimacy with 12, in a community of roughly 1500. Living in small communities for centuries, only in the last 130 years have we moved to larger cities—and had access to world news via radio and television for the past 90.
This century allows instant global news in our pockets 24/7, and it’s scientifically engineered to be enticing and addictive.
This has created no small pandemic of its own. Research reveals constant information access is detrimental to mental and physical health.
Compounded with a pandemic, social and political unrest, war and increasing natural disasters, we have the perfect storm for stress, anxiety, depression and overwhelm—all increasing exponentially in the past 10 years with the onset of social media.
So the question remains, how do you cope?
Historically, I have not faired well. Not until 3 years ago did I learn strategies for stress management and soul care, relieving years of anxiety and fear.
If left unchecked, stress wreaks havoc on the body, mind and soul.
Throughout our 20s and 30s, many can power through this accelerated lifestyle—God made the body and spirit remarkably resilient—but be assured:
Unless something gives, that something will be you.
When the world throws its best sucker punch face-ward, God offers wisdom to deflect the blows. I’ve found protection in these strategies:
1. Remember to pray.
Prayer is undoubtedly powerful; I would not be here without it.
The earnest prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective. James 5:16
Yet, when we’re overwhelmed and anxious, it’s often our last resort.
But we can change that. Making prayer a habit takes effort; however, the dividends are eternal.
- Are your children frustrated or sad? Pray with them.
- When friends relay concerns, stop and pray immediately—short and heartfelt is best!
- Are you facing anxious or heartbreaking circumstances? Pray.
- When you don’t like the new administration, pray.
- Is your marriage a mess? Pray together.
- Family falling apart? Pray!
- When natural disasters strike, pray.
- When war rips counties apart, pray.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Phil 4:6
When we spend our time complaining or judging, we’re creating stress and discord within our bodies, spirits, homes—and communities when we post about it.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Col.3:14
2. Keep your heart soft.
Hard-heartedness leads to anger, bitterness and discord.
With social unrest palpable, as Jesus followers, we can bring His peace to difficult, tense situations by laying aside our agenda and asking Jesus to empower us with His. We already know His agenda in many cases, living it beautifully all of His 33 earthly years.
My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. John 4:34
But I know how hard this is. It takes intentional effort to yield my will to His. It’s a daily struggle—one I want to overcome more each day by His power.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Col.3:12
3. Resist being pulled into heated arguments.
Hot topics such as political, social and medical issues are triggers for many people. As Jesus followers, we have His power to resist descending into the chaos of these super-charged discussions.
Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are. Prov. 26:4
When people initiate these conversations, they generally have one intention—convincing, not listening—sometimes at any cost. It’s often pride or ignorance talking, and our best recourse is to bow out graciously.
When a wise person has a controversy with a foolish person, the foolish person either rages or laughs, and there is no rest. Prov. 29:9
4. Learn to recognize your cognitive biases.
Most people don’t understand cognitive biases or their power, but if we’re going to be wise and discerning, we first must understand ourselves. Put simply, cognitive biases are “a systematic error in thinking – part of our brain’s hardwiring – that causes us to act repeatedly in an irrational way. Most people are unaware of these subconscious biases…” Conceptuality.org
They impact our decision-making and thinking, hijacking rational thought. (Please scan this short article for more!)
“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” Jonathan Swift
Friend, the closer we stay to Jesus, the more peaceful and joyful we’ll be. I learned this the hard way and want better for you! Did one of these practical strategies resonate? Talk with Jesus about it. He’ll lead you on right paths—He promises. (Psalm 23:3)
Next week we’ll discuss more practical strategies for peace in a chaotic world!