GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–“If you’re looking for a magic bullet to deal with stress, forget it. It’s not there,” Tommy Yessick told a packed room of about 60 attending a session during Church Music Leadership Conference, June 14-20 at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center.
“You have to examine the physical, mental, emotional and social areas of your life to see what’s causing your stress,” said Yessick, wellness consultant at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In his seminar, “Five Ways to Beat Stress and Three Ways to Let It Beat You,” Yessick noted, “Most of the time we anticipate or imagine it to be more than it really is. You can deal yourself a lot of stress just by thinking the worst is going to happen.”
Stress is the emotional response to a situation you shouldn’t be in or you can’t get out of. “Sometimes you can get rid of a lot of your stress just by saying, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I shouldn’t have meddled.’
“Stress is the confusion created when one’s mind overrides the body’s basic desire to choke the devil out of someone who desperately needs it,” he quipped. “Stress in a word is change.”
Yessick said people can either try to beat stress or let stress beat them.
“One way to let stress beat you is to ignore it,” he said, providing a laundry list of ways stress impacts the body:
— Thymus glands and lymph nodes shrink, thereby affecting the way the body fights diseases.
— The adrenal gland enlarges, “making it shoot out more adrenaline and causing you to get even more stressed,” Yessick said.
— Stress causes bleeding ulcers and the disappearance of white blood cells to fight infection. “It suppresses your whole immune system,” he said.
— Other problems include muscle aches, headaches, backaches, irregular heartbeats, loss of energy, gastrointestinal problems, sleep loss and skin irritations.
“It really messes with your body,” Yessick said.
A second way to let stress beat you, he said, is to be unrealistic in your expectations of yourself.
“You are not superman or superwoman. You can’t do everything. There is only so much you can do. If you don’t bend, you’ll break,” he said.
The third way to let stress beat you, Yessick said, is to stay right in the middle of it.
Three stages of stress, he said, are alarm reaction (get ready to do something); resistance (begin to fight it); and exhaustion (whew, it’s over).
“When you stay in the middle of stress, you go from alarm to resistance, but never to exhaustion or retreat. You’ve got to back off and take time to breathe and relax.”
Yessick listed five ways people can beat stress:
1) Don’t collect straws or don’t let it build up. “Load stress is chronic stress. The straw that broke the camel’s back was not just one straw, but a whole load of them piled up one by one. It was a collection of previous straws we didn’t let go of.”
2) Accept that stress is just a strange duck. “You’ve got to have it, but you don’t want too much of it. Stress can be a positive force that enables you to survive and thrive. It’s not what happens to you, but how you react and how you handle it that is important.”
Psychological stresses include worry, anger, disappointment and frustration, he said. Physiological stresses include smoking, drinking alcohol, drinking too much caffeine, poor nutrition and being overweight.
“Each additional unnecessary pound of fat contains over 200 miles of blood vessels and capillaries which cause stress on the heart because it has to work that much harder to pump blood.”
3) Forget about it and drive on is Yessick’s third way to beat stress. “There are things we need to learn to forget, especially if you can’t change them,” he said. Two ways to look at stress-causing situations are to change them and make a difference or decide they really aren’t that important. “Will it make a difference five years from now?” Yessick asked.
4) Invest early and often. “Don’t just deal with stress when it happens, but invest in it before it gets there. Don’t wait until it happens and say, ‘I wish I had thought of ways to handle that.'”
5) Build a foundation. Build resistance. “Buffer the effects of stress by nurturing your emotional well-being, improve yourself physically, be a lifelong learner, eat right, get good sleep and rest. Take some slack time.”
And most importantly, he said, take time out to sit alone with God.
“Be still and know that God’s not stressed out. I guarantee you God’s not wringing his hands, biting his fingernails and saying, ‘Oh me, what are we going to do now?’ Take a lesson from him.”