Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your stress tolerance level

Hello again, I am so glad to see you back in A Good Bible Study!

Today we are going to get some practical info on why we feel under stress, what it is doing to our bodies, and how we can start feeling much better. Let's pray:

Lord, thank you for giving us the answer, no matter the question. Our days are so filled with important tasks. Please order our day for us, Lord. Make it clear in our minds what is important and what can wait. Help us to focus on our relationships, and not so much on checking off our lists. Help us to focus right now, on Your Word, and let us be changed by the experience. In the name of Jesus we thank you and pray, amen.

Yesterday I introduced you to Dr. Marcelle Pick. She tells us that we all have a Stress Tolerance Level. Some people thrive on stress and the accompanying adrenalin rush, others crumble under the slightest frustration. We've got to know our limits to live in peace and joy.

Read Matthew 6:25-27. Is God saying just let everything go and lay about enjoying the day? No, but I love it that He puts it into perspective a bit when He says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your
life?" New International Version

Now, your stress tolerance level is influenced by the following:

  • your support network, or lack thereof
  • your sense of control
  • your attitude and outlook
  • your ability to deal with your emotions
  • your knowledge and preparation for situations
Read John 14:1 in which Jesus reassures you "Let not your _______ be ________; you believe in _____, believe in _____ also." New King James Version

Did you know that stress is not just a product of negative reasons, like job loss or being in an argument, but also for positive situations including a move to a new city for a promotion, or planning a 50th wedding anniversary?

Something else to think about is that the main cause of stress is not that you're experiencing danger, or a major life change, work issues, relationship problems, finances, being overly scheduled, dealing with children, or extended family. It's how you think  about those problems. It's internal as well as external and the good news is, you can change the way you think even when you can't change what is happening to you.
Thinking that causes more feelings of stress includes:

  • the inability to accept uncertainty
  • an attitude of pessimism
  • negative self-talk
  • unrealistic expectations
  • perfectionism
  • a lack of assertiveness
Read Psalm 46:1 "God is our ______ and _________, an ever present _____ in _______." New King James Version

So, problems develop when we feel emotionally, physically, financially or otherwise threatened, and our bodies react with the release of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol to give us the energy we need to respond. Our hearts race, increasing blood flow to our muscles, which tighten so we can fight or run, as necessary.

See, most situations that cause a physical stress response, don't require a massive physical output of energy. In fact, inour society, we are criticized for even showing signs of being under stress, even in very stressful situations! Our society values people who remain calm, cool, and collected, or at least can fake it really well. But it's just not realistic to deny we are having problems, nor is it healthy. Letting stress fester in our bodies is extremely damaging to our mental and physical health.

Read Matthew 11:28-30 in which Jesus offers His comfort to us in stressful times. He says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will _____ _______ ______!"

Dr. Pick asserts that chronic exposure to the stress response leads to sustained high cortisol levels which can:

  • destroy healthy muscle and bone
  • slow down healing and normal cell regeneration
  • co-opt parent molecules needed to make other vital hormones
  • impair digestion, metabolism and mental function
  • interfere with healthy endocrine function, and lead to
  • infertility
  • obesity
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • faster aging
  • and weight gain (we've all seen the t.v. commercials, right?)
During this study we are going to continue to search our bibles for God's wisdom in dealing with stress, as well as learn some techniques to change our thinking that will dramatically reduce your daily stress response.
Reading God's Word will relax you, give you wisdom and insight to your  problems, and remind you that the Maker of Heaven and Earth is on your side.

Read Proverbs 12:25 before you go and come back tomorrow to hear an inspiring story about Jada Pinkett Smith, and her own breaking point with stress, and how God made the difference in her response.

Father, I thank You that none of us are alone in our troubles. There is nothing too difficult for You, only to difficult for us to see through, on our own. I am so thankful that when I don't know what is coming next, You do. And I can count on You to see me through whatever it is. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Love, Karen

Photo by Nathalie P, courtesy of http://www.photoxpress.com/

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