The booklet you hold in your hands is
one in a series designed to help you with
practical “hands-on” information in your
personal search for a better life and to
help those you care most about.
No matter who you are or where in life
you are looking for answers—whether it
be marriage, health, parenting, the loss
of a loved one, overcoming an addiction,
or working through stress or financial
problems—there is help available and
there is hope.
We trust this booklet and others in the
Peacefinders series will be a blessing
to you and your family as you journey
through each passage of life.
Copyright © 2011
PROJECT: Steps to Christ, Inc.
302 Foster Road
Fort Covington, NY 12937
Printed in the USA
Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,Inc. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.
y Victor Parachin
The Associated Press recently carried a story
about the death of Dr. Rene Favaloro, the
surgeon who pioneered coronary bypass
surgery. This is an operation now routinely performed
on millions of people each year. In 1967,
Dr. Favaloro performed the first by-pass operation
on a 51-year-old woman at the Cleveland Clinic in
Ohio, using a vein taken from the patient’s leg to
detour blood around blockages in her heart. The
success of that surgery has led to many, many others,
and today millions of people are alive because
of Dr. Favaloro’s pioneering work. Prior to his experimental
procedure in 1967, coronary heart disease
was mainly treated with medications.
Dr. Favaloro’s secretary found his body in the
bathroom of his home in what police called a suicide.
There was a bullet wound on his body, a gun
nearby and farewell letters written by the doctor.
Dr. Favaloro reportedly was unhappy about financial
problems connected to the surgical foundations
he established. Shortly before his death, he
was reported as saying, “I am going through the
saddest period of my life.” Unable to manage the
stress of his life, Dr. Favaloro lost a sense of hope
for the future and ended his life.
Stress can deprive us of emotional balance. It can
rob us of health. And, ultimately, stress can shorten
the span of our lives if left untreated. Sometimes it
seems that life itself is a breeding ground for stress:
traffic jams, difficult bosses, rebellious children, uncooperative
workers, tight deadlines, relationship
Everyone experiences times of stress, however,
not everyone becomes “stressed out.” What
gives stress a negative name is not the condition
itself but our emotional and physical response
to it. The truth is that stress does not have to be
Here are a dozen stress busters
that really work.
Begin Stress Reduction by
Applying the Apostle Paul’s Advice
Early Christians had more than their share
of stress—condemnation, persecution, whippings,
jail terms—yet they remained confident and joyful
believers. Whenever you face stress, apply this
important advice from the apostle Paul: “Rejoice
in the Lord always. … Be anxious for nothing, but
in everything by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known
to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding, will guard your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4, 6, 7).
Behind these scriptural themes is this reality: those
who recognize that God is ultimately in control
change the way they react to even the most severe
Review Your Values,
Including Financial Obligations
If your life seems to bring you more hassles
than happiness, have a second look at your values
and priorities. It is highly possible that simplifying
your life and reducing financial obligations could
ease a great deal of daily stress. Take a spiritual inventory
of your work and habits, asking yourself
these kinds of questions:
• Would I be more satisfied with a smaller
home and a lighter mortgage?
• Do I need to drive brand new cars with high
• Would I be happier to have more family
time and less commuting time to work?
• Could I experience more professional fulfillment
in a different vocation, even if it
meant a reduction in pay?
This type of “values review” can lead you to
cut back on financial obligations. Money, in and
of itself, is not the problem, as the Bible indicates
in I Timothy 6:10. It is the love of money and the
love of material things, which stresses and presses
us, sometimes to the breaking point. Living a less
stressed life can mean limiting material desires
and paying off debts incurred.
Give Yourself a “Helper’s High”
Famed physician Karl Menninger said:
“Love cures people—both the ones who give
it and the ones who receive it.” One sure way to
cut down on life’s stresses and the negative impact
they have is to reach out and care about others.
Doing so creates a “helper’s high” say some 3,300
volunteers who were recently surveyed. Virtually
all spoke of receiving a “helper’s high,” with nine
out of ten saying they were healthier than other
people their age. Many also reported reductions in
stress, relief from backaches, headaches, arthritis,
asthma, and ulcers.
Consider the example of Judith Weintraub.
At age 35, Weintraub learned she had multiple
sclerosis. The doctor listed symptoms she might
develop, which included double vision to eventual
paralysis. Yet, for nearly two decades, Weintraub
has suffered only minor symptoms. Weintraub
firmly believes she benefits by helping others.
“Every time I help somebody, I get an emotional
and physical rush. I just feel like I’m flying.”
“When you’re laughing, your attention
is focused. You can’t do anything else.
Everything else, whether it’s depression or stress,
stops,” notes writer Robert Leone. His observation
is verified by scientific evidence which indicates
that humor seems to inoculate us against
emotional distress. In a recent study presented to
the American Psychological Society, 67 college
students were made to give impromptu speeches
in front of their peers. Public speaking is one of
the most dreaded, anxiety producing tasks people
experience. In the study, half of the college students
had their heart rates rise from 70 beats per
minute to 100 while speaking. However, the half
who kicked back before hand with an episode of
the television comedy Seinfeld had heart beats of
only 80 to 85 beats per minute. That lower heart
rate, the result of laughter, was comparable to the
effects of stress-relieving biofeedback techniques.
Commenting on that study, Edward J. O’Brien,
Ph.D., professor of psychology at Marywood
University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said: “We’re
not suggesting this can replace biofeedback or
other stress managing techniques, but humor
seems to inoculate you against anxiety.” The lesson…
watch less news and laugh more, call friends
who you know you can joke or “kid” around with,
and above all realize that God created laughter.
Carry These Two Serenity
Prayers with You
These prayers have helped countless people
during times of high stress. One is a twenty-five
word prayer written years ago by professor
Reinhold Niebuhr of Union Theological Seminary
of New York.
The other serenity prayer is a modern rewrite
of the 23rd Psalm by Japanese Christian,
Read them often so they become etched in
your memory, allowing you to recall them on
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things
I cannot change, courage to change the things
I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
The Lord is my pacesetter,
I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
He provides me with images of stillness,
which restores my serenity.
He leads me in the ways of efficiency;
through calmness of mind,
And His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many
things to accomplish each day,
I will not fret for His presence is here.
His timelessness, His all-importance,
will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
in the midst of my activity,
By anointing my mind with
His oils of tranquillity;
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
shall be the fruits of my hours,
For I shall walk in the peace of my Lord,
and dwell in His house forever.
Love Yourself and Everyone You Meet
That advice comes from physician and
best-selling author Bernie Siegel. “A characteristic
of people who have achieved peace
of mind is a [healthy] love of self,” he notes.
“Without love, feelings of loneliness, despair and
hopelessness dominate, and we can’t reach our
potential as human beings.” Although we do not
always have control over what life brings us, we
do have control over our responses to life’s challenges.
“Make a conscious effort to love yourself
and everyone you meet. Think of yourself as an
actor or athlete who is practicing this skill. When
you choose to love, you allow joy and a sense of
fulfillment into your life—and into others lives as
well,” Dr. Siegel says.
Feeling connected to other people is another
great stress reducer and confidence builder.
When David, the future king of Israel, was under
tremendous stress, it was his friend Jonathan who
comforted him. The account states: “Jonathan
… arose and went to David in the woods and
strengthened his hand in God. And he said to
him, ‘Do not fear’” (1 Samuel 23:16, 17). Various
studies conclusively demonstrate that people who
have a strong social network experience a better
quality of life than those who do not. In one
study of Alameda County, California residents,
adults who had the fewest friendships were most
likely to die prematurely of heart disease, cerebrovascular
disease, cancer, and other illnesses. One
who has benefited by becoming more socially involved
is Andrew Ferrante of East Meadow, New
York. After his wife died, he spent his time sitting
at home. “I’d had quadruple bypass heart surgery,
my joints were hurting, and I was always catching
colds or the flu,” he says. “My kids were grown and
out of the house, and I thought, ‘Am I going to die
alone?’” Ferrante then joined a group of people
who had also lost a spouse. His health began to
improve immediately. “I’m having so much fun
now,” he says, “I don’t have time to be sick. I credit
this group with saving my life.”
Forgive Quickly and Generously
“As we grow in wisdom, we pardon more
freely,” wrote the 18th century French
woman Anne-Louise Germaine De Stael. Many
of life’s stresses are the direct result of festering
grudges against those who have hurt us in some
way. Rehearsing wrongs and harboring hurts adds
considerably to the burden of life. Learn to forgive.
Factor in human weakness, faulty judgement, and
immaturity from others. Forgive and let it go.
Holding a grudge takes mental, emotional and
physical energy. It can make you obsessive, angry,
depressed, and physically ill with stomach problems,
skin ailments and even heart conditions.
Reduce the level of stress you place on yourself by
forgiving those who have hurt you. Forgiveness
releases enormous amounts of positive energy,
which will banish such ailments and fill you with
peace and warmth.
Begin by telling yourself that you forgive the
person who wounded you. If at all possible, extend
forgiveness directly to the person in a face to
face conversation. Then proceed by acting in ways
that reinforce, to yourself, your act of forgiveness.
This can mean ceasing to harbor hateful thoughts
and gradually letting go of angry feelings toward
the individual. Ultimately, forgiveness is a gift you
Take Good Care of Your Body
“You can steel yourself against stress by
taking good care of yourself physically,”
notes Dr. Wayne Oates, an ordained minister
and professor of psychiatry at the University of
Louisville. “Eating a balanced diet will help fortify
you, as will adequate rest and exercise.” Dr. Oates
advises against using drugs (including prescription
drugs) and alcohol to help you cope. “Drugs
deal with the symptoms of stress—not the cause,”
Let a Friend in on Your Life
Cultivate a high capacity for intimacy.
Psychologists know that people who
have a number of close friends and confidants
cope better with stress than those who do not have
such friends. By confiding in a trusted friend, a
crisis becomes a source of challenge rather than an
overwhelming, exhausting event. Jenny Steinmetz,
Ph.D., a psychologist at the Kaiser Permanent
Medical Center in Hayward, California, explains:
“Having one or two close friends you feel free to
say anything to is invaluable. Often when you are
overwhelmed, you don’t trust your own judgement.…
But an objective view from a friend helps
validate your opinion.”
Diversify Your Life
The most stressed people are those
whose interests are narrow and limited.
Consider diversifying your life so that you
have several interests and commitments. Here is
wisdom from Dr. Bruce Munro, director of behavioral
medicine at the Institute of Stress Medicine,
Jackson Hole, Wyoming: “It is important not to
focus only on one or two areas of intent. All of
us need a variety of diversions, so that if one interest
area becomes stressful or goes sour, there
will be others that are doing well and can take up
Learn to Weather Disappointment
and Set Boundaries
Life will not always deliver us everything
we wish and hope for. There will be times
when a colleague forgets a lunch date with you or a
long promised promotion does not come through
for you. Whether it is a minor letdown or a major
disappointment, learn to weather life’s blows.
Ask God to help you better deal with life’s frustrations,
keeping in mind this advice from the apostle
Peter: “[Cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares
for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Finally, learn how to say “no.” You are not
under obligation to accommodate every person
and every request which comes your way. Saying
“yes” to everyone can result in deepening frustration
and stress levels. Keep in mind the example
of Jesus and the disciples as reported in Mark 6:31
and 32. There, Jesus and His companions had been
working hard, teaching and healing multitudes. In
spite of considerable success and popularity, He
sensed it was time for His renewal—He and His
apostles didn’t even have time to eat. They left by
boat for a quieter spot. The lesson: it’s all right to
say “no” to some requests in order to reduce stress
and renew for future tasks.
* * *
So, even though we live in a stressful world,
we don’t have to be “stressed out.” By reading and
following these twelve tips you can learn to be a
much happier and more relaxed person. God bless
you as you learn to trust in Him to get you through
the stresses of every day living and to enjoy a richer
and more fulfilled life.
Other titles available in
the Peacefinder book series:
You Can Stop Smoking
Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage
A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness
Hope in Times of Trouble
Survival Tips for Single Parenting
Living with Loss
The Healing of Sorrow
Life After Death
Gentle Ways to Ease Depression
To order additional titles, visit our online
bookstore at www.peacefinders.org
or call 1-800-728-6872.
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