Just recently I heard a little girl of approx 7 yrs of age say to one of her friends, "Don't bother me now, I'm too stressed to cope with things!" I smiled when I heard this, but was saddened, because this is something that a child should not be aware of. Obviously it was something she had picked up from listening to adults.

What exactly is stress?

Stress occurs when a person is consumed by a way of thinking, real or imagined, where they are continually thinking about something or other that affects their health, relationships, attitudes and behaviour and they can't seem to get away from their thoughts no matter how hard they may try. It is not unusual for such a person to be irritable, anxious, fearful and so on. They can be robbed of sleep. Relationships can become strained, their occupation, health etc. are affected because of the intense pressure they feel under, whether that pressure is the result of others or something they bring upon themselves. As a result they feel unable to cope with situations as they stand, and this can lead to a breakdown in one way or another.

During the manufacturing process, metal is often stressed, thereby making it stronger and more durable to pressure. This process also lessens the possibility of 'metal fatigue' where the product breaks or is unable to fulfil the purpose it was designed for. In the same way manageable amounts of stress help us to develop our character for the difficult times which do come as a part of life. 

None of us were made to function with negative thoughts continually going over and over in our minds - for this is what stress is! Stress can cause mental problems, and mental problems can cause stress! In simple terms stress is the inability to control one's thinking. Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ..." The key to overcoming stress is to take steps to change your thinking and to change your focus. The Apostle Paul wrote, "... Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about" (Philippians 4:8 TLB). Initially this may be difficult but it can be done with practice and persistence. Change the material you look at or focus upon whether it be books, films or music. Try doing something you've wanted to do and haven't got round to doing. People have taken up a whole range of activities to help, ranging from exercise to painting or drawing. Reading something light, singing, or just mixing with people you would normally do, can all help. It is also recognised that when a person is fit and healthy they are able to cope with more stress than they would otherwise. Starting some hobby or other can also be helpful in taking back control. 

To me the sad thing about stress is a failure to trust! I believe our lives are in God's hand. He is a good good God, and wants to make Himself so real to you irrespective of the way you might feel towards Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and to make Jesus real to you. Then thank Him that He cares and is concerned about you and wants to help you in every sphere of life. Hopefully before long the stress that you've been facing will become a distant memory and your life will be that much better!