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You can beat stress or it can beat you


GREEN LAKE, Wis. (BP)–Judi Jackson was stressed.

She was a full time Ph.D. student, as well as a seminary professor. Her husband, also a seminary professor traveled … a lot. She has kids. Then, if that weren’t enough stress, the worst happened. Her mother and her father-in-law both died in a few months’ time.

Jackson, adjunct professor of church recreation/wellness at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, led a conference on handling stress during the [email protected] event, June 25-29, at Green Lake Conference Center, Green Lake, Wis.

“Stress is your body’s reaction to change,” said Jackson, “and I had a lot of changes going in a relatively short time.

“I’m not about to tell you that you can get rid of the stress in your life. You can’t. All you can learn to do is to deal with it better,” she said.

Jackson described the two kinds of stress.

First, there is distress or bad stress. This kind of stress will come upon someone with the death of someone close, a car accident, too many errands to do or too many bills to pay.

Eustress or good stress is the second type, she noted. This is the kind of stress that you get from a marriage, the birth of a child or being faced by a new challenge.

She said both kinds of stress are in everyone’s life. “You need that good stress to get you going sometimes.”

Jackson asked the group, “How many roles do you play in your life? What gives you stress?”

John George, a member of First Baptist Church, Ozark, Mo., listed the roles he plays. “I’m a husband, a dad, a son, a son-in-law, a grandson, a brother, a brother-in-law, a realtor, a teacher, a coach, a deacon, a choir member, a quartet member, a driver, a Bible study teacher, an adult department director, a counselor, an uncle, a friend, a neighbor and a buddy.”

“That’s a lot of roles,” Jackson acknowledged. “I bet most of us in this room would have a similar list.”

So, what do you do, she asked.

She gave a list of five things that can be stress reducers.

–Exercise. “I know none of you like to hear that, but it’s true. The best exercise is something you will do, whether it is swimming, running, walking, whatever. Find something you will do for an hour three or four times a week,” Jackson, a runner, said.

–Use your sense of humor. “Just lighten up!” she said. “Sometimes you can tell yourself that you’ll laugh at a situation someday. Well, go ahead and laugh now.”

–Develop a social support system. “When my mother died, I was so glad that I had my friends to help me through the time,” she said. “We aren’t made to be alone. If we were, God would have just made Adam.”

–Choose to eat nutritional foods. “The food you eat can determine how your body will react to stress. A healthy body handles it better,” she said.

–Take time to be quiet and ponder the marvels of God. “Be still. Psalm 46:10 tells us to be still and know that he is God,” she said. Rest, sleep. Your body was made to do this.”

LifeWay Church Resources, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsored the [email protected] Church Leadership Development event, which attracted approximately 500 people from 16 states.
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  • Polly House