Wed | Aug 16, 2017

5-Step Plan For Dealing With Stress And Anxiety

Published:Sunday | July 17, 2016 | 7:00 AM

We are living in troublesome times. This article suggests five inter-linked steps to address the issue.

Life's challenges might come in the form of personal safety, the death of a loved one, financial problems, breaking up, conflict, marital problems, loneliness, fear, weight issues, illness, coping at work, etc.

The five steps are:

1. Approach with certainty.

2. Deal with the facts as they are now ... not what they could be or have been.

3. Invite divine intervention.

4. Take action that supports your prayers.

5. Get the support of others.

- Step #1: Approach with certainty.

If two individuals face identical difficulties, the one with a positive outlook is going to manage the stressful situation better than the one who is pessimistic.

A quote from the Hypnotherapy in London website is instructive:

"Whenever we encounter a stressful event, our bodies undergo a series of involuntary hormonal and biochemical changes. The stress response is helpful in true emergency situations, but when it's activated on a frequent basis, it puts strain on both mind and body."

A pretty graphic representation of the importance of positive expectation and the avoidance of doubt comes from the book of James.

"But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." James 1: 6-8

Maintain a positive outlook!

- Step #2: Deal with the facts ... the bare facts.

We face one set of facts, yet from them we create situations that may not even occur. Adding to the facts produces unnecessary tension and reduces our capacity to deal effectively with the situation.

We also tend to add on negative thoughts, not positive ones. That runs counter to the results you really want. Stick to the bare facts.

- Step #3: Invite divine intervention.

The Bible extols the virtue of prayer and supplication. James assures us that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Outside of invoking the power of God, prayer has the additional benefit of helping us to focus on dealing with the issues. It helps to direct us to the way forward.

Prayer also has the effect of calming our frazzled nerves. By appealing to a higher authority, we grow in confidence and we feel better about the situation.

- Step #4: Take action that supports your prayers.

When we pray, we should act as if our prayers are being answered. We have to proceed with the assurance that God's providence is going to be granted to us, and all our actions should reflect that confidence.

Many times, we sabotage our own efforts through a lack of belief and self-doubt. True faith requires us to act in accordance with our prayers. (Mark 11:24)

- Step #5: Get others' support.

When you feel anxious and stressed, get the support of others. Even the strongest of us need support at times. Be willing to seek assistance, even just moral support, when facing difficult times.

Simply sharing the problem reduces the level of tension and anxiety. Even if they only listen. However, wise counsel does more than passively reducing anxiety. Accessing good advice is one of best steps you can take to deal effectively with stress and anxiety.

Apply the five steps and watch how much better you navigate the complexities of life.

1. Expect positive outcomes. Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

2. Give up storytelling. Focus on what is and not on what could go wrong.

3. Let God play a more active role in your day-to-day activities. Go to Him regularly for guidance and providence.

4. Align your actions to your prayer requests. Act as if you believe your prayers will be answered in the positive.

5. Do not go it alone. Seek the support of others. Build networks and alliances.

• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy, home of the 'Certified Behavioral Coach' international certification. http://certifiedbehavioralcoach.com. Email: info@swpacademy.com.