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Stress, It’s What’s for Dinner

According to the American Psychological Association, over a quarter of Americans reported feeling so stressed in 2022 that they could not function most days. High inflation (83%), violence and crime (75%), the current political climate (66%), and the racial climate (62%) were cited as significant causes of stress. Major health issues are deeply intertwined with stress as a primary cause and symptom. While there is no shortage of resources related to coping with and minimizing stress, it seems to be spreading like an epidemic. Is there any hope for us?

Proclaiming that stress is a choice can feel unempathetic, patronizing, and absurd.

However, Paul seems to say exactly that in his letter to the Philippians. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” and earlier “Do not be anxious about anything.” We frequently confuse simple things with easy things, but this is a mistake. The simplest things can be the hardest things. The complicated can be easy. Consider how adept we are at rationalizing stress, pointing to a myriad of causes, circumstances, and people. One of my favorite quotes comes from G.K. Chesterton. When asked, “What’s wrong with the world?” he quipped, “Me.” Therein lies our problem. We want to hold everyone accountable for our stress except ourselves. Our mindset and unwise actions should be cited as the number one cause of our stress by a country mile, as my Granddad used to say.

Most potential stressors are completely out of our control.

For those stressed about high inflation and longing for the good old days, are you referring to the 60s and 70s or post-Great Depression? For those stressed about violence and crime, would you prefer to close your eyes and play spin the globe for a new home? Let’s hope it doesn’t land on Ukraine. For those concerned with the current political climate who believe our country is on a death spiral, let Google enlighten you. You can start with the Civil War. Andrew Jackson may have taken part in as many as 100 duels. Abraham Lincoln and JFK were assassinated. Richard Nixon was impeached. The good old days may exist in our minds, but they don’t exist in reality.

The markets are volatile, politics and religion are polarizing, inflation is a certainty, and health issues are headed your way.

Have the courage to meet the demands of reality anyway, which is how Dr. Henry Cloud defines integrity. Focus on and seek out the countless blessings of life. Maybe Artificial Intelligence can save us after all. Alexa, how can I reduce stress? Exercise. Build muscle. Eat healthy. Sleep longer. Read. Pray. Volunteer. Give. Save. Invest. Travel. Go on vacation. Turn off your phone. Build meaningful relationships. Fish. Dance. Sing a song. Play a game. Cook. Go for a walk. I could go on and on, and so can you if you choose. 

April 2024

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