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Is all stress bad?

by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries

In the last blog I asked you some questions that helped you identify the stressors in your life. If you missed that blog, take a moment and go back and read it or at least take a moment and write down the things in your life that are causing you stress. As you look at your list, would you say that all stress is bad?

Using a red pen, go back and circle any of the stressors in your life that you think would be “bad” stress. Do you have any stressors that you would consider “good”?  If you think any of your stressors are “good” draw a green box around them.

Let me introduce you to Eustress

Often, we think of stress in negative terms. However, there is both good and bad stress. Good stress, known as eustress, includes positive forms of stress that can bring about beneficial effects on one’s health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being. It will motivate a person and help them focus their energy so they can persevere and continue working. It’s the kind of stress that helps people meet deadlines and improves their performance.

Typically, we feel like this kind of stress is something that is within our perceived coping abilities. It feels exciting and makes life interesting. You probably have experienced eustress if you have ever ridden a roller-coaster. Or think about how you felt on a first date or starting a new job. What did it feel like to get a promotion? Other examples of eustress can include getting married, buying a home, moving, having a child, taking a vacation, holiday seasons, retiring, or learning a new hobby. That little bit of anxiety mixed in with excitement is what eustress feels like.

Eustress keeps life exciting

Truthfully, without events in our lives that bring eustress, life would be pretty boring, routine, and lacking in excitement. Without eustress, it would be very difficult for us to be motivated to accomplish the plans that God has for our lives. Therefore, it is a gift from God that gives us what we need to reach goals and overcome hurdles and barriers. It gives us a reason to wake up each morning ready to face the challenges of the day and tackle whatever God has in mind for us.

When I was in process to publish my first book, God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars, I experienced eustress as my finger hovered over the “send” button as I sent my book off to the publishers. It was exciting. I was about to accomplish the task that had taken me over a year to complete. Yet there was also stress. All sorts of questions popped in my head as my finger hovered. “What if they don’t like it?” “What if they laugh and tell me no one would be interested in a book like that?” And, “What if I put all this work into it and no one buys it?”

I didn’t write the book with the expectation of becoming rich or famous. I wrote it to be obedient to what God was telling me to do. So, I had to stop and pray and give it back to Him. I had done the task He told me to do. Now it is His to do with as He sees fit. In surrendering the book to Him, I pressed the send button. It was definitely a eustress moment.

Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing

Even though eustress can be good for us, keep us motivated, happy, and healthy, too much of any good thing has the potential of becoming a bad thing. Too much eustress can cause overload and then it can turn to bad stress.

A good example of this might occur in the days leading up to a wedding. Brides and grooms are planning one of the most exciting days of their lives and one they will remember for the rest of their lives. They are attending showers, parties, shopping, planning the honeymoon, and all the other things that go along with a wedding. By the time the wedding actually arrives, the wedding party is exhausted but probably still running on the excitement of the day. However, during these stressful days, there might also be some tensions and disagreements that need to be resolved. The happy stress of planning for a wedding has just turned into negative or bad stress.

What are some descriptive words for how you feel in those moments of eustress.

Now imagine if you constantly stayed at that level of emotion every moment of your life. Would you be able to sleep? Would you be able to concentrate on work? Do you think you would be able to meditate on God’s Word? Would you be able to focus on prayer? Would you be able to have a meaningful conversation with a spouse or friend? If you constantly stayed at this heightened state of emotion, you would eventually feel like an overloaded fuse. This is why finding some quiet restful moments is important.

Disciples overloaded on Eustress

For a few moments, place yourself in the shoes of the disciples. Close your eyes and imagine standing next to Jesus as He performed miracle after miracle. In your mind, see Him heal the sick, raise the dead, and drive out demons. Watch Him as He makes mud with his spit and place it on the eyes of a blind man and now, he can see! See Him teaching in a home and the roof opens and a man on a pallet is lowered through the roof because he is lame and can’t get through the crowd to Jesus so he can be healed. Jesus has compassion on him and heals the man. See Him restore hearing to the deaf. Visualize skin covered in leprosy instantly become healthy again. Can you see the excitement, awe, and wonder in the faces of the disciples?

What that in mind, let’s look at Mark 6 where Jesus commissioned the twelve and sent them out. Now they were not just excited observers. Verses 12-13 tells us, “So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they were driving out many demons, anointing many sick people with olive oil, and healing them.” (HCSB)

If you were one of the disciples, how would you be feeling?

If you were one of these disciples would you be feeling a little eustress when Jesus sent you out? Maybe excitement that you would get to heal people and do the miracles that Jesus did? But maybe that excitement might be mixed with a little anxiety as you wonder “what if this doesn’t work for me? What if I let Jesus down and I’m not able to heal like He did?” They had watched and observed the Master, but now it was their turn to make an impact in the name of Christ. If that were you, what would your thoughts be right about now? Take a moment and consider how you would be feeling.

A time away…or maybe not

In verses 30-31, we read, “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.’ For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” (HCSB)

Jesus was God and in Psalm 121:4, we find that, “the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.” (HCSB) However, while on earth the Son of God indwelled a human body and that body grew tired (John 4:6), just as we do. And even though the disciples were probably running on tanks full of excitement, he also knew they needed rest. He knew that they needed down time. And so in verse 32, we find that Jesus and the disciples went away in a boat by themselves to a remote place. Aaahhh! Can you hear the tired sighs coming from the disciples? Can you hear them thinking, “Finally! Some rest.” Or – maybe not. 

As we keep reading we see that the crowd saw Jesus and the disciples leaving and they took off running on the land and they actually arrive at the quiet, desolate place meant for rest before them. Jesus, full of compassion stepped onto the shore and began teaching them. As it grew late, the disciples would witness yet another miracle – the feeding of the 5000. After that came Jesus walking on water. Then came more miraculous healings.

Even Jesus needed “down time”

We find in the Bible that even the Son of God needed to have some “down time.”   Marks 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.” Luke 6:12 says, “During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God.”

In both Mark 1:35 and Luke 6:12, we find Jesus retreating to a place to be alone. But what did he do there? He spent time in prayer. If the Son of God needed time alone with God, how much more do we? Yes, we need those moments of eustress to keep life exciting, to keep us motivated, and to help us achieve goals and overcome challenges. But those moments also need to be balanced with leisure and rest. If not, eustress crosses the line of our perceived coping abilities and turns into bad stress.

Like Jesus, we need to make sure we are taking time to retreat to a place to be alone, spending time in prayer. Jesus understood the limitations of our physical endurance. This is why he told his disciples to come away and rest. So give yourself permission to retreat, recharge, and rest…even when life is exciting. Each year schedule time away in your calendar for a spiritual retreat, whether that means going away or spending quiet time at home. Make a planned time away with a personal Bible Study that will renew your mind, strengthen your soul, and prepare you to keep on ministering.

Self-care course and coaching

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Coming December 2021!

Pre-order for a 50% discount. You will get the complete set of downloadable self-care video-based course plus 10 group coaching sessions.

Pre-order now to receive a 50% discount! (Releasing December 2021)

You will get the complete downloadable self-care video-based course plus 10 group coaching sessions.

We know that ministry is hard! When you serve in ministry as staff or volunteer, you are on a spiritual battlefield 24/7. As you serve God, you fight for the Kingdom of God and our adversary is constantly attacking. He wants you to either lose your effectiveness in your ministry role or get you to quit. We must be sure we are reconnecting to the Vine (Jesus) so that we can refill, renew, and recharge. Then we can keep on pouring into others.

If you are feeling like you are losing the fight or struggling to stay in the fight, Jesus says to you, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) Self-care is both Biblical and necessary, if you are going to stay in the fight and be effective in the Kingdom of God. Stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue are real weapons that the adversary uses against us.

Even if you do not serve in ministry, if you are a Christian, you too are in a spiritual battle. Every Christian fights the same adversary and our Biblical self-care principles are for every Christian.

What you get in this self-care course:

In Part 1 of this video-based course, you will learn about the spiritual dangers in ministry, discover if God is testing you or is Satan attacking you, understand that ministry is battlefield and how to be steadfast, immovable on the battlefield, learn how the devil uses his wiles and schemes against us, and remember how to use your Spiritual Armor. We will also breakdown stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue.

Part 2 is all about Preventing and Recovering from Burnout and Compassion Fatigue as we go through six areas that need self-care. In this part of the course we will provide you with practical ways that you can immediately begin practicing self-care. As you continue to serve God in whatever way He has called you, self-care is vital if you are not going to grow weary in doing good so you can reap at the proper time (Galatians 6:9).

Additionally, this packaged deal will provide 10 group coaching session where we will discuss the weekly assigned videos and do check-ins on where you are in each of the six areas of self-care that include: Spiritual, Sensory, Emotional, Social, Physical, and Intellectual.

Releasing in December 2021, this packaged deal will include the complete video-based course plus 10 group coaching sessions with the author, Julia Bruce. In the 10-week program you will complete weekly videos and assignments and then meet virtually for a group coaching session to help you apply self-care where you need it. 

But wait! That’s not all! Check out this Bonus to the self-care course and coaching program.

BONUS: While this course and group coaching is not releasing until December 2021, if you’re purchasing this material, we know you need help now. So, if you purchase before the release date, we’ll place you in our new private Facebook membership page for free through the end of 2021. In January, this group will require a monthly subscription of $19.99. But it will be yours free through the end of year when you purchase the pre-release of the course and group coaching sessions.  

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<<<NEW>>> In the Spreadshop Store:

Here in Florida, it does not feel like fall yet, but September is here and that means we are growing our fall line of t-shirt designs. Check out these two new designs:

Sweater weather

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See our other fall designs:

The slide show below highlights some of our favorite Christian Tees designs available in our Spreadshop and Teespring stores.

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When we ask Jesus to forgive us and save us from our sin, He takes our old, sinful self and makes us new in Him. This beautiful canvas is a great reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

See our Canvase prints in the Teespring Store: All Things New

All Things New

We’ve added a new canvas print to the Teespring Store. These prints make great gifts or for decor in your home.

When we ask Jesus to forgive us and save us from our sin, He takes our old, sinful self and makes us new in Him. This beautiful canvas is a great reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

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What Satan Does Not Want You To know

This trifold document includes Scripture verses that Satan does not want you to know about. As you hide these verses in your heart, you’ll be able to defeat the lies of Satan when he tries his wiles and schemes on you.

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Stress Journal

We all face stress. How we handle stress, however, has many variables. Learning how to recognize stress, coping with stress, and creating a self-care plan during times of stress can begin by journaling. Taken from our series on Biblical self-care for people in ministry, we’ve created this free download to help you through the things that cause you stress.

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We’ve put together 52 memory verses for you to hide God’s Word in your heart! You can download the full document for free and then print a new verse each week and as many copies as you’d like. Each verse prints four times on a page so that you can then cut them into index size cards and place them in prominent places where you will see them frequently throughout the day to help you remember to memorize them. Just because you visited our site, they’re yours for free! Download today.

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The Path to Sin

Satan is constantly trying to trip us up and he doesn’t even play fair because he uses our own desires as bait to get us to sin. James tells us the five steps that lead us down the path to sin in James 1:14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This download helps you identify your desires so that you can better recognize when Satan is baiting you and you can avoid falling into sin. When used along with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to identify the desires that Satan baits you with, you can then ask the Holy Spirit to help you not become a victim to the bait of your desires. Download the worksheet today.

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Self-Care Wheel

The Self-Care Wheel provides ideas for practicing self-care in six dimensions of yourself: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Sensory, and Social. NOTE: You will need 11X14 paper to print the wheel.

Want to know more about self-care? Our Self-Care blog series targets people who serve in any ministry position (paid staff or volunteer) and takes a Biblical approach to self-care.

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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

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