Stress Management

stress management

Stress is something that everyone deals with and everyone can relate to. Stress is a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. It is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Not all stress is negative; there can be positive stress in our life. If we are going to learn to manage stress in a healthy way, we need to be aware of a few things in regards to stress. 

Symptoms of Stress

Information from a Cleveland Clinic

  • Chest pains, general aches and pains, symptoms that can mimic a heart attack.
  • Racing heart, exhaustion, trouble sleeping 
  • Headaches, dizziness, shaking 
  • High blood pressure, muscle tension, jaw clenching
  • Stomach or digestive problems
  • Trouble having sex 
  • A weak immune system, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, chronic illnesses as your body is in a constant fight or flight mode
  • Emotional and mental symptoms (Anxiety, irritability. Depression. sadness. Panic attacks)

Causes of Stress in Our Society 

Fast paced modern life

We pack too much into our lives on a daily basis and leave no room for margin. We live at an unsustainable pace that God never intended for us. We are not realistic about time. Time is finite, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. We all have the same amount of time. Time is like a container which has a limited capacity. There is only so much you can put into it. 

In Psalm 90. 10,12, the psalmist said: 

The years of our life are seventy or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we all fly away. 

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 

Whether you are a Christian or not, there is a true life principle here. We have a limited number of years on earth. I need someone to teach me how best to spend those days. Because once they are spent they are gone forever. I want a maximum return on my time investment along with the best quality of life. Time is like money, it is a resource. They both can be used wisely or wasted. Time is more valuable because I can’t make any more of it. 


Materialism is looking for meaning in life through the accumulation of possessions, material things. Many people fall into the trap of working more so they can have more stuff. This will increase stress because I have to work more to have more money to buy more stuff to impress people I don’t care about. Then I have to take care of all the stuff I buy which takes more of my time, increasing my stress along with robbing more time so I can’t use my stuff. This results in not leaving me time to do what is really important; spending time with people I care about. 

A Lack of Balance 

As I mentioned before we tend to live life at too fast a pace. The challenge is to develop a sustainable pace for my life. You can’t run a marathon at the same pace you run a 100 yard dash. You would never be able to finish the marathon. We can overcommit to something for a short period of time but we can’t do that for a lifetime. I need to ask myself the question, “Can I live like this for the long term?” If the answer is no then I don’t have a sustainable pace. 

In developing a balanced life I need to consider things like my priorities; what is important over the urgent. What are my values, goals and what makes for a life well-lived? Here are just a few areas that need to be prioritized on your life list: 

  • The spiritual dimension
  • My marriage and family
  • My work
  • Self-care physically, emotionally, mentally, rest, diet and recreation
  • My personal responsibilities outside of work
  • Helping my community and others

This may seem like a long list and I am sure you can think of other things to put on your list. People can get overwhelmed trying to balance a long list of responsibilities. Just remember you aren’t talking about equal amounts of time for each item, that is impossible. You are talking about appropriate amounts of time for each item.

Also, you are not trying to do everything on the same day or even the same week. Balance is achieved over a period of time. Be realistic about how much you can get done in a day or a week. You are aware of the items that make up your balanced life. You determine the amount of time and frequency for each item. These two things will be changing over time. 


Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when I feel totally overwhelmed, emotionally drained, exhausted and unable to meet the consistent demands of life. How do I get in such a state? Here are some signs of stress and that my life is out of balance and on the road to burnout. 

  • Anxiety, depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of patience and easily angered
  • No time to relax
  • Feeling trapped and just wanting out of your current circumstances
  • Feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and not seeing any solution or way out

When I am convinced there is nothing I can cut out of my life so I have to just keep going at my current unsustainable pace; I will keep toughing it out. However, your body will eventually tell you you are at burnout. It will shut down because I have used up all my resources. I have nothing more to give; the battery is dead, I have no energy to run anything on. This is a bad spot to get to because the recovery time can take months. That is months of being out of work and unproductive. If I develop a sustainable pace I will be more productive in the long run. 

You can think of other specific stressors that would apply to your life. I am sharing here some broad general areas that will produce stress. 

Dealing With Stress 

Unhealthy ways to deal with stress. 

  • Using alcohol, drugs or any substance to escape
  • Gambling 
  • Over eating or developing an eating disorder
  • Compulsive behavior in areas such as sex, pornography, shopping, internet browsing, smoking, etc

Healthy ways to deal with stress. 

Develop a weekly sabbath. By this I mean a day or even a part of a day when you only do something you enjoy or that is relaxing to you. It cannot have anything to do with work for your job or personal work projects. 

Meditation or prayer. Scriptures make great sources of meditation. I am in the present focusing on my meditative thoughts or handing off to God my worries or anxieties; the things I have no control over. This helps to center you. 

The basics – proper sleep (7-8 hours a night), proper diet, proper exercise (something you enjoy and can stay with). It can be as simple as just walking. 

Set realistic daily goals. Then at the end of the day focus and review what you accomplished, not what you didn’t get done. If it didn’t get done today then it didn’t need to get done today and can wait for tomorrow. 

Make a thankfulness or gratitude journal. Add to the list as you remember other things you are grateful for. Review your list on a regular basis. 

Build meaningful, healthy and positive relationships. Then spend time with the people you enjoy and that refresh your soul. 

Stress is a reality of modern life. Hopefully the ideas here can help you better manage stress in a healthy way. Don’t allow stress to overcome your life. You can be an overcomer of it.

Boynton Beach Counseling Center
Gateway Counseling Center
1034 Gateway Blvd. #104
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
Phone: (561) 468-6464
Phone: (561) 678-0036

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