A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 4: Stress Management and Sleep 72 Introduction Some people would like to believe that if they become a Christian everything will be okay; that God will somehow protect them from the different trials and tribulations of life. Unfortunately, Scripture does not support this theology. In fact, John 16:33 warns us that life in this world won’t be easy and that we should expect “trouble.” Fortunately, the passage goes on to say that because Christ has overcome the world, we can find peace in him. While the bad news is the stress we encounter in life is inevitable, the good news is that God is aware of our stress and desires to be our source of strength and refuge during stressful times (Psalm 46:1; Matthew 11:28-30). Additionally, God uses the stresses of life to produce godly character (James 1:2-4). Research shows that, if left unchecked, chronic stress can lead to an array of serious health problems including physical illness, anxiety, and depression. So, effective stress management is important for longterm physical and mental health. Unfortunately, many people turn to unhealthy behaviors to deal and cope with stress (e.g., food, alcohol, drugs) instead of turning to God for help. What is Stress? Stress is the combination of mental, emotional, psychological, and physiological responses made by the body in response to a perceived harmful event or threat (Walters & Byl, 2021). These collective responses help the body to overcome or flee from physical threats. This phenomenon is sometimes called the fight or flight response. The events or situations that bring about stress are called stressors. It is important to note that not all stress is bad stress. For example, eustress is considered to be good or beneficial stress. An example of eustress would be a class assignment that is perceived as neither too difficult nor too easy or a strenuous strength training workout. Distress, on the other hand, is considered to be bad or harmful stress. An example of distress would be having a crippling fear of public speaking yet being required to give an in-class presentation or coping with the death of loved one. In general, eustress helps to enhance performance, whether physical or mental, and distress tends to impair performance. There seems to be a fine line between eustress and distress. Any challenging event or situation will result in a stress response. Whether the event or situation is considered eustress or distress depends on how we perceive the stressor and whether it is transient or prolonged (Johnson & Morris, 2012).