Ready for a crazy fact? Some octopuses have been known to eat their arms off when they are exposed to stressful situations. Yikes! And you thought biting your nails when you’re stressed was bad?!
Thankfully, I don’t eat my arm off, I tend to eat chocolate! What do you do when you’re stressed?
We all have reactions to stress. Most of our reactions aren’t exactly healthy though. We can get angry, irritable or depressed. Or, maybe we tend to overeat or under-sleep! Some of us get so overwhelmed when we are under stress that we just run to the nearest escape.
Experts suggest lots of ways to deal with stress like exercise, prayer, humor and even cleaning (one of my personal favorites). But, after reading all their advice, it boils down to finding ways to either manage stress or reduce it. Sure, those are ideal strategies—reduce or manage it, but I contend there is a third, and far wiser, reaction to stress and it will let you keep all your limbs intact!
I found it in the book authored by the ultimate expert on stress reduction… the Bible! Psalm 94 helps me redirect my heart and mind when I’m stressed. Verse 19 says, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
Did you see the Psalmist’s reaction to stress?
When you are stressed, let God’s comforts delight you.
The world’s comforts give little delight to the soul when we’re really feeling the stress of life. Stress management and reduction techniques help, but they won’t completely comfort us and bring us peace. God’s comforts bring us peace and even pleasure. His comforts console us and become a refuge for us.
How to Make a Stress Comfort List
Let’s be practical so we don’t get stressed out dealing with our stress! Make a “Stress-Comfort” list for the next time you’re feeling the pressure of life. Think about what brings you stress and write them down. Think of these as your triggers for stress.
You can probably easily list your sources of stress. Here’s a short list of mine: deadlines, traveling and conflict.
Now, take a moment and list God’s comforts.
To help you identify comfort, think about what you run to when you are stressed. Food? Friends? Sleep? Exercise? Breathing techniques? Though those may offer temporary comfort, they don’t bring lasting delight. Think about God’s comforts—what are they?
Acceptance, peace, grace and strength are just a few of the comforts and consolations that could be on the list.
When I compare the items on my stress list with the items on my comfort list, I can see more clearly the comfort is deep and eternal while the stress is fleeting.
That delights me and would really help the octopus amputees out there!
So, next time the thoughts are crowding your mind, when your heart is racing, when you are tempted to take a bite out of your own arm, make sure you rest, exercise, breathe, reduce what you can and manage what’s left. But most importantly, pull out your list and let God’s comforts calm and delight you.
Question: What would you put on your stress comfort list?