If you search online for "stress relief," you'll find a range of tips from getting more hugs and listening to calming music to breathing deeply, practicing "mindfulness," and, finally, "self-care."
Stress is a big problem for a lot of people in our fast-paced culture, leading to all sorts of health concerns, so it's important to counter stress effectively. But not all stress management techniques are created equal.
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Stress Management Techniques
The Bible describes several stress-management strategies:
- Setting aside one day of the week to rest (Deuteronomy 5:13)
- Not harboring anger or holding a grudge (Ephesians 4:26)
- Overlooking offenses (Proverbs 19:11)
- Obtaining counsel from a trusted friend (Proverbs 27:9)
Such wisdom has been recorded and handed down to us in literature since Old Testament times. It applies to everyone without regard to religious affiliation.
What the Bible Says
It's important to know the difference between what the Bible says about stress management and what the world says.
The world says "practice mindfulness," a meditation technique with roots in Eastern religions. Rather than emptying your mind, Scripture counsels us to fill our minds with truth, memorizing and meditating on God's Word (Psalm 119:11).
The world says practice "self-care," making sure your own wellness and peace of mind are top priority. On the other hand, God says to consider others more important than yourself (Philippians 2:3), take up your cross and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), and those who lose their life for the sake of Christ will find it (Matthew 16:25).
Learning to walk alongside fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, seeking to serve one another in love, exhorting one another to live lives that are holy to the Lord, and growing in Christian maturity together are essential practices to living as faithful Christians. It is also the path to peace.
We were not meant to do this life alone, but to carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:1–5), bear with one another in love (Epehsians 4:1–3), and forgive one another as Christ forgave us (Colossians 3:13).
True Stress Relief
The Bible maps the way to find true relief from stress and anxiety. King David wrote, "As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands" (Psalm 119:143). Obedience to God's Word leads us to flourish in right relationship with Him, but disobedience leads us away from all that promises lasting rest and peace (Hebrews 4:1–13).
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-29).
Comfort for your Soul
This doesn't mean following Christ is trouble free (John 16:33), but in the midst of the routine—and even the extraordinary—pressures of life, we have the comfort of the Holy Spirit's presence, faith in God's promises, and the assurance of eternal life with Jesus.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).