Stress Management




A Dozen



that Really


Dear friend,

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.

—The Publishers

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

issues, etc.

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

so stressful.


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

of situations.


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

monthly payments?

• 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.”


Laugh More

“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,

Toki Miyashin.

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.


Get Social

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

give yourself.


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,”

he cautions.


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

the slack.”



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

Addiction Free

Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage

A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness

Hope in Times of Trouble

Money Management

Stress Management

Survival Tips for Single Parenting

Successful Parenting

Living with Loss

The Healing of Sorrow

Life After Death

Medical Miracle

Gentle Ways to Ease Depression

To order additional titles, visit our online

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