by Dr. Stan Brewer
All of us know what stress is and feels like. Stress is a natural response that helps us deal with difficult situations. In that sense it can be very helpful. Research has shown that a little bit of stress can help test takers and athletes perform better and help us respond to emergency situations. However, too much stress does just the opposite. Furthermore, too much stress can lead to psychological disorders and if severe and prolonged, physical problems. Heart disease, high blood pressure,and greater susceptability to illness have all been linked to stress.
Stress comes in many forms. Disasters and life changing events can obviously be stressful. But so can the day to day things we face at home and at work. However, stress doesn’t just have to be negative. There can be positive stress too. Celebrations, promotions, new jobs and many other things can add positive stress. How we respond to stress has a lot to do with whether it motivates us and helps us perform better or panics us and just makes things worse. In a gospel sense, how we respond to adversity correlates with how much we grow from it. Those that murmur, complain, or run away (Laman and Lemuel or Jonah) do not receive the blessings of those who pray earnestly for help and guidance and then get to work (the brother of Jared).
A major factor in determining how we will respond to stress is whether we are optimistic or pessimistic. Optimism has been shown to help people do better in school and recover quicker from surgery. I think the gospel principles of Faith and Hope help us to have more optimism. With faith we can trust that Heavenly Father will help us to do our best with our stressful tasks or help us cope with the stressful events. We can hope that we will grow and gain valuable experience from our trials. Together these can bring more optimism into our lives – we can see stressful situations as an opportunity to grow and develop!
It is also important to have good methods to cope with stress. Intense and long lasting stress is not healthy. There are several methods to help manage stress. Take care of yourself: Eating properly and getting the right amount of sleep are very important Staying active: Exercise is an excellent stress reducer. Take some time out: Taking some time away from stressors is important. Vacations, breaks, and changes of pace help. Utilize Sundays as a day to rest from the stresses of work, school, and daily life and to refresh yourself spiritually. Get involved: Helping someone else is a great way to relieve stress. Getting involved in your community can also help build a support network. Stay in touch: Having friends and family who are caring and positive can be very beneficial. Taking some time to do something you enjoy with friends or family is a great stress reliever. Avoid temporary fixes: Drugs and alcohol (or other addictions) may seem to provide temporary relief but they are really causing more damage. Excessive complaining (murmuring) can also be detrimental. Seek help if you need it: There are situations and times that are beyond our abilities to cope. Family, friends, and church leaders can offer the help we need. Professional help from counselors and doctors is also available. Rely on the Lord: Heavenly Father loves you and wants to see you succeed and find happiness. By putting our trust in the Lord He is able to bless us in ways we would not think possible. When no one else can understand what we are going through, He can. He knows us and He has suffered all things. He is in the perfect position to help.
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