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Physical Solutions for Stress Management, Part 2

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

Physical solution: Developing listening skills to manage Stressors

As we continue looking at physical solutions to stress management, we will find some practical ways to reduce and manage stress. Some stresses can be managed by changing the circumstances. This means that we work to improve how we communicate with others and look for ways to improve how we live our lives.  

Learning to communicate well is a physical solution and it is essential to stress management. James 1:19 says, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” I don’t think it was unintentional that God gave us one mouth and two ears. He wanted us to listen twice as much as we speak. However, too often we find it more necessary to “speak our mind” and make someone understand our side in a situation that we don’t take time to listen – really listen – to their side.

Tips to developing good listening skills

Good listening skills have to be developed and it takes practice. However, everyone is able to develop listening skills. Here are some quick tips to help you become a better listener:

  • When listening, you should always face the person that is speaking and make eye-contact with them.
  • Try to relax, even if the situation is tense. It will put the other person more at ease also.
  • Pay attention. Don’t let your mind wander off thinking about something else or try to come up with what you will say next.
  • Try to keep an open mind by understanding that their side of the issues is as important to them as yours is to you. Even if you disagree, give the other person the respect of listening and hearing what they have to say.
  • Don’t interrupt them while they are speaking. Interrupting gives the impression that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say. It also sends the message to the other person that you do not value their opinion and that you don’t care what they have to say.
  • When the person speaking comes to the end or a break in what they are saying, ask questions to clarify that you have heard them correctly. Effective communication only occurs when the listener both hears and understands what is being said. By asking questions, you are able to confirm that what they intended to communicate is what you understand. This will remove the stress of miscommunication.
  • Pay attention to the speakers body language. Sometimes more is said without words than with words. Body language and facial expression tell us more about how the speaker feels than the words themselves. Likewise, check you own body language and be sure you are not communicating something that you don’t intend.
  • Lastly, give the speaker proof that you are listening with short feedback phrases such as, “I can see you are angry right now” or “That must have been the highlight of you day.”

Learn to effectively express your own thoughts and feelings

Listening effectively is important but so is having the ability to express your own thoughts and feelings. If you are not able to approach people and let them know something is bothering you or that you have a great idea, learn how to approach others in a respectful way and let them know what is bothering you or share your idea. Keeping your thoughts to yourself will likely build resentment and take your stress levels up a notch.

However, we must also be sure that when we are expressing our thoughts and feelings that we do so in a what that honors God. Doing so out of anger is not going to make anything better. It will just breed an argument. So, use calm tones along with kindness and consideration. You can also try to understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings with a genuine concern for how they are feeling.

Physical solution: Know when to compromise to manage stress

Compromise is another physical solution to help manage stress. Because we are human and we all come from different backgrounds in life, there will be times where it will be necessary to work towards compromise rather than a solution. There are two basic definitions of compromise. It can be defined as “settling differences by each party making concessions to find middle ground.” It can also be defined as “eroding, degrading, diminishing, and jeopardizing” such as compromising one’s integrity.

Just how are we to determine where it is appropriate to compromise and when we should stand out ground? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:23, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the Gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with.” In this verse, Paul clearly provides the key to discerning good compromise from bad. He refuses to compromise the Gospel itself, but willing to compromise on his own personal preferences. In other words, we should never compromise our convictions, but personal opinions and conveniences can be, especially when it means doing so adds souls to the kingdom of God.

The Bible itself should never be compromised. So, if a situation goes directly against the Bible we must defend the gospel and stand our ground. The Bible makes it clear that God does not condone compromising His standards: “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths. You have charged us to keep Your commandments carefully” (Psalm 119:1-4, NLT). 

Physical solution: Realigning priorities to manage stress

Another physical solution for stress management is to set and abide by healthy priorities. We can change the circumstances that cause stress by making sure our priorities are in the right order and that our schedule is well-balanced with spiritual, family, work, play, and rest. When any of these get out of order or we are not devoting enough time to one and too much time to another, the other areas begin to hurt and we risk a higher change of stress, burnout, and/or compassion fatigue.

Physical solution: Changing ourselves to manage stress

Most people dread change of any kind and the very idea of change can cause stress. However, another physical solution to manage stress is to recognize the times where we are not able to change the stressor, but we do have the ability to change ourselves by changing our expectations and attitude. God created us with the ability to make choices and we make them every day. We can choose to fume, honk our horn (loudly) and be a road bully in a traffic jam or we can choose it see the disruption as an opportunity to spend some time with God by listening to a sermon on the radio or a Christian music station. We can use the time to meditate on a scripture we read that morning. And we can use the time to pray (with your eyes open!) for each person on the road with us, car by car.

Physical solution: Reframing stress to a more positive perspective

Another physical solution to manage stress is reframing your stressors to a more positive perspective can help lower the stress you experience when stress raises its head. This means you have a choice to examine the big picture and determine if the stressor is something to sweat over or if you need to focus your time and energy somewhere else. To do this, think about how important the stressor will be long-term. Will it still matter next week, in a month or a year from now? If it isn’t, then why get worked up over it now? Instead, choose to release it to God and ask Him to work His perfect will and plan through what you are experiencing.

We often pray and ask God to remove difficult situations from our lives…but sometimes being fully surrendered to Him means that we are willing to go through the difficult time. As Jesus faced the cross, He prayed, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36) If Jesus had not honored God and gone through the extreme stress of the cross, where would you and I be today? Looking at the big picture helps us bring the stress into the view of God’s lens and be surrendered to His plan.

Physical solution: Standards can set us up for failure and stress

We can also choose to adjust the standards we have set for ourselves and our lives as a physical solution to manage stress. While some standards should not be bent, such as the Word of God, other standards are set by us and we determine what is “good enough.” People who tend to be perfectionists actually set themselves up for failure by demanding perfection from themselves. The only person who was perfect was Christ. For the rest of us, the Bible tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).

None of us are “good enough.” Setting standards of perfectionism is unreasonable and unattainable…whether you set those standards for yourself or someone else. Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” God and His Word should be the only standard we use. There is no room for perfectionism or pleasing ourselves or others if we are going to be servants of Christ. He is the only person we need to please.

Physical solution: Practice gratitude to manage stress

Another physical solution is to choose to practice gratitude to express our thankfulness and praise. In a moment of stress, it is much easier to focus on what is causing so many problems in our lives. Instead, choose to take time to praise God for all His many blessings, including the uniquely and wonderful way He chose to make you. Praise Him for your positive qualities and the gifts that He has given you.

When we experience times of stress, displaying an attitude of gratitude increases dopamine in your brain. This is the “feel good” chemical and when released, it encourages the brain to seek more of it. So, from a scientific, psychological standpoint, the more you are grateful for, the more you will find things to be grateful for.

Through gratitude, you can find peace and joy as you pray and give things to God, even in stressful and difficult times. God promised to give us grace and faith and we can find it through His Word. When you experience times of distress, pressure, and trouble, you can improve your outlook simply by showing gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If we look hard enough, we can always find something to be grateful for.

Physical solution: Make time for relaxation

Relaxation is another physical solution you can utilize to help manage stress in your life. Making sure you are balancing the business of life, family, work and ministry with time for fun and relaxation will help you have a better frame of mind to deal with the stressful moments of life. Any time we are overly tired, overworked, and just worn out, small stressors can seem like impossible stressors. So be sure to include in your daily routines enough time to get a full night’s sleep. Take small breaks in your day and do something fun or relaxing that will help refresh you and keep you going. Think about activities or hobbies that you enjoy, such as fishing or crochet, cooking or golf. Maybe it’s playing an instrument, walking on a beach, or looking up at the stars. Whatever it is, make time to include it in your schedule every day.

Physical solution: Get physical

For most of us, when we feel stressed out, finding some quiet, relaxing moments alone makes sense. However, exercise and physical activity is also a great way to get rid of stress, and thus a great physical solution to manage stress. As you exercise endorphins, which induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria, are released and helps distract you from what stresses you. You don’t need a gym membership and or be a trained athlete. You don’t even have to be a regular exerciser; however, all of us benefit from regular exercise that is at least a thirty minute session.

Get up and start moving

If exercise is new to you, build up gradually. If you don’t have thirty minutes to devote to exercise, remember that even small activities can add up throughout your day. Simple activities such as parking farther away, taking the stairs at work, walking your dog, swimming, yoga, or dancing to your favorite praise music can get you up and moving. The first step is to simply get up and start moving.

Choose an activity you enjoy

The second is to choose an activity you will enjoy. You will be much more likely to stick with something you find fun. When the activity is something you enjoy, it becomes more of a hobby than exercise. If you need to, try several activities before choosing one. Then pick the one that is the most enjoyable. If necessary, consider the cost involved to get started with the activity and what it will cost you to maintain the activity. If it is out of your budget, then choose another enjoyable activity. Trying to stay with one that is costly can add more stress because your finances are too tight and sooner or later, you’re likely to give it up.

Listen to Christan music, sermons, or podcast while you exercise

1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” So, for an added benefit, listen to positive Christian music or podcasts from your favorite Christian speakers while you are exercising. God often speaks through music and sermons to encourage us and help us refocus our mind so that our thoughts shift from our stressors to meditating and thinking about our great God.

Physical solution: Fellowship with other Christians

God can also speak to us through fellowship with others. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.”  It is in the relationships we have with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors that we find support and encouragement. God created us as social beings and connecting to other people whom we trust and feel safe with can help shut down the “fight-or-flight” response. Quality time with the people that are important to us and those that we feel “get” us can also lower feelings of loneliness and depression. Talking about what stress us with such people can often help us find solutions that we couldn’t see before. However, even if a solution is nowhere in sight, just having someone listen with genuine care and concern can help lower the level of stress we feel at the moment.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “a merry heart does good, like medicine.” Laughter is a great stress reliever, helps to relax your muscles, and reduces some of the physical symptoms of stress. It can make difficult situations easier for you to handle and connect you with the people around you. At the very least, it will improve your mood and make you feel happier.

Physical solution: Practice good time management

Managing your life and your lifestyle can also lower stress. Therefore, a physical solution to manage stress includes good time management skills. Time management is key to how we manage life and all of its demands. The thinner we stretch ourselves, the more difficult it is to remain calm and focused. When we pile too much into our schedules we can be tempted to take short cuts rather than giving our best. Poor time management can also cause us to not have enough time in our day for healthy choices such as exercising, socializing, getting enough sleep, and spending time in God’s Word and in prayer.

Avoid over-committing

Proper time management includes not over-committing yourself to tasks, events, and projects. This means to not take on more tasks and projects than what you are capable of accomplishing as well as filling every moment of your schedule with something to do. The way to avoid this time management pit fall is to know God’s will and plan for your life.[1] Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:15-17, So, then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise but wise, making the best use of your time because the times are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” We have to know God’s will before we can plan how we will accomplish it.  

Avoid scheduling things back-to-back

When you can, avoid scheduling things back-to-back. Schedule in small breaks between tasks to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or to take a short walk in the sunshine. Planning for breaks can also allow you to plan for unexpected disruptions or for when a task takes longer than anticipated. Disruptions and underestimating how long tasks will take can increase stress because they can make us fall behind in our schedules and not allow us to accomplish all that we planned. It is better to overestimate and run ahead of schedule. Another time management tip is to avoid fitting more into your day than you can reasonably accomplish. Scheduling too much will start your day with stress and then constantly increase stress throughout the day as you fall further and further behind.

Prioritize your tasks

Once you have your daily scheduled planned (including breaks), prioritize your tasks. Work on the most important tasks first so that you are sure to get them done. We all tend to procrastinate on tasks that we don’t enjoy. However, if we knock them out first, then we don’t have to dread them all day. It’s also important to know yourself. If you are morning person and do your best work first thing in the morning, then schedule more complicated tasks during that time. If you need a few hours to get going in the day, then schedule some lighter tasks then and save the complicated ones to when you are at your peak during the day.

Large projects can be daunting and overwhelming. When looking at the big picture of the project, we can waste time just wondering where to start. When you have a large project, take time to make a step-by-step plan. Then build your steps into your schedule over a few days or weeks, depending on how long you have to complete the project. Focus on just one manageable step at a time.

Delegate

Lastly, learn to delegate responsibility when you can. It’s important to know that you do not have to accomplish it all by yourself. Let go of the desire to control or oversee every single task. Assess the people in your life and know their strengths and weaknesses. Learn to delegate tasks that match the strengths of other. In ministry, this might be ministry partners, co-workers, or staff.

At home, it could be your spouse or children. Children need to have responsibilities within the home to help them learn cooperation, teamwork, and responsibilities. The better you are at delegating, the more you will be able to let go of unnecessary stress.

One caution to delegating responsibility, is to know that when you delegate a task, you have the confidence that the person to whom you gave the responsibility to is capable and trustworthy to get the job done. If you have to keep checking back in or you are constantly worried the job won’t get done if you delegate it, then you’ll have more stress than doing the job yourself. Also, avoid falling into the pit of redoing what someone has done simply because they didn’t do the task just exactly as you would have. If their way accomplishes the job and gets it done, then leave it and move on.

When you don’t know where to begin, start with prayer

For some, time management can be a struggle because they simply do not know where to begin when the pile of tasks seems bigger than they are. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will given him. Start with prayer and seek God’s will. This will help us not pile on tasks that are not part of His plan for us while neglecting the tasks that He has asked us to do. In Psalm 90:12, the psalmist wrote, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Wisdom for any task or for planning how to accomplish any task comes from God and when we feel like we don’t know where to begin, then the place to begin is in prayer.

Physical solution: Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a physical solution as it can help lower stress while increasing your resistance to stress. While we have previously talked about the benefits of exercise, it also important to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and avoid foods that can raise stress so that we are better able to maintain a balanced lifestyle that promotes resilience to stress.

Eating healthy ensures your body is well nourished. The choices you make in your food and drink can either raise or lower your stress levels. Some foods bring comfort, which trigger hormones that will help you naturally fight stress, while other foods and drinks can raise stress.

Don’t skip meals

Skipping meals and being hungry only increases stress. So be sure to begin your day with a healthy breakfast. Not only will it give you fuel to keep you energized, it will keep your mind clear so you can focus on your tasks rather than your belly. Plan your meals throughout the day with foods that will naturally fight stress. Avoid fatty, fast foods and bring healthy meals and snack from home to work. Smaller, more frequent meals can help keep sugar levels at proper level and keeps them from spiking and dropping. 

Garbage in equals garbage out

Remember that garbage in equal garbage out. If you load up on caffeine and sugar, you might get a temporary boost, but these boosts tend to in with a crash in both mood and energy. Additionally, reducing caffeine and sugar will help you be able to relax at night, fall asleep easier, and sleep better throughout the night. Caffeine can raise both your heart rate and blood pressure, so if you already have healthy problems in this area, it’s best to avoid caffeine altogether.

On the other hand a warm cup of tea is calming to many people, especially herbal teas that include lavender and chamomile. Dark chocolate has both a chemical and emotional affect on lowering stress. Rich in antioxidants, small amounts of dark chocolate lowers levels of stress hormones in the body. Carbohydrates, such as pasta, sweet potatoes and whole grains, increase serotonin, which is a mood booster plus stress reducer. As serotonin levels are increased, people under stress often experience improved concentration and are able to work better. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like avocados, can also boost concentration and improve mood. Fatty fish, such as tuna, halibut, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and lake trout, is also high in omega 3 and has the added benefit of improving heart health.

Physical solution: Get enough sleep

Sleep is another physical solution and it is as necessary to the human body as food, water, and air. When we sleep, our brains recharge while our bodies rest. Even a slight deficiency in sleep can affect memory, judgement, and mood. If we frequently do not get enough sleep, health problems increase, including high blood pressure. There is also a higher risk of obesity and driving can be impaired. When we do not get enough sleep or the quality of sleep decreases, stress will increase. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you are not getting at least seven hours of sleep per night, try setting an alarm to remind you to go to bed.

By eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising, we can maintain a healthy lifestyle that will promote resilience to stress, keep our mind focused, and ensure better health over all. 


[1]What did the lawyer ask when someone started talking about God’s will? “Was it notarized?” Because we have the Bible, we do not need a notary. God tells us about His will in His Word. His will is that we glorify Him and that none should perish.

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Physical Solutions for Stress Management, Part 1

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

While a spiritual solution is important, there are also mental and physical solutions that can make us proactive in both reducing and managing stress. For example, as we understand how the body’s natural fight-or-flight response system operates, we can better cope with stress. Emotional intelligence allows us to use and manage our emotions in positive and constructive ways. Self-evaluation can help us become aware of when we are feeling tense, on edge, and stressed out. Self-awareness enables us to recognize the impact our emotions and actions have on a situation. Knowing ways that help the body relax and calm down can help lower stress and be more effective for finding solutions to our stressors.

The Physical Fight or Flight Response System

We typically react to a stressor that is threat in a different way than one that is a challenge. Threats tend to elicit a greater stress response from us and create greater levels of anxiety. Stressors that are perceived as a threat, whether real or imaginary, will initiate our “fight or flight” response system and create a greater sense of anxiety. The purpose of this system is to trigger the release of hormones that will prepare your body to either stay and fight the threat or to run away from it and find safety. It prepares your body to respond to the danger.

In Genesis 3, at the fall of man, Satan deceived Eve and created distrust. Through his wiles and schemes, he seduced Adam and Eve away from trusting God – the most wonderful, loving, giving, caring, sensitive, helpful being who created them. Believe it or not, Satan convinced them that God could not be trusted, and our world has not been the same since. As a result, distrust is born and it is impossible for there to be both distrust and faith at the same time. When distrust creeps in, so does fear anxiety, and depression. We instantly feel as if our personal safety is at risk and the “fight or flight response system kicks in.

The body’s physical response to the fight or flight response system

When this happens, your heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and breathing becomes faster. Your body becomes tense, ready to take immediate action. The increased heart rate and breathing rate gives you energy and oxygen. Your skin will become pale or flushed as blood flow to the surface areas of the body is reduced so that more blood flow is sent to your muscles, brain, legs, and arms. Your body also increases its ability to clot blood to prevent excess blood loss. Additionally, your pupils will dilate so that you can be more aware and observant of your surroundings while also allowing more light into your eyes giving you better vision. As your muscles prepare for action, they will become tense which can result in trembling or shaking.

Your fight or flight response system can be activated by any real or perceived threat. For eustress, this system will help you perform better. For distress, it can help you survive.  When this response becomes severe, it leads to panic attacks. However, once activated, it can take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes after the threat is gone for your body to return to its pre-threat state.

A Physical solution: Emotional Intelligence

We all know of a time in our lives when we let our emotions get the best of us. They can override our objective mind, make mountains out of molehills, and make the possible impossible. Our emotions can influence our personal lives, our relationships, or careers, our families, friends, and our ministries. When our thought processes and emotions become irrational, they become an obstacle that creates stress.

Emotional intelligence is a term used to refer to the ability one has to identify and manage his or her own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It includes a sense of emotional awareness that allows someone to identify and name their own emotions. In other words, they can identify they are angry, sad, depressed, frustrated, happy, ecstatic, etc. However, being able to put a name to emotions isn’t enough. One must also be able to harness these emotions and apply them to tasks such as problem solving.

Finally, emotional intelligence includes managing emotions so that a person can regulate those emotions when necessary for themselves or to have the ability to cheer up or calm down someone else. A person that has a strong emotional intelligence would be better equipped to handle stress because such a person would be able to notice when they are becoming stressed and begin to calm themselves before they react to the stress at an unmanageable level. Additionally, the empathy and social skills of someone with a well-develop emotional intelligence would be more effective in both expressing themselves and avoiding saying something that might create a stressful or hurtful situation.

A Physical solution: Self-evaluation

We need to have an understanding that too many challenges, whether they are eustress or distress, can lead to chronic stress, which then leads to burnout. It becomes important for us to self-evaluate and know what our own limitations are and how to create a healthy balance. While threats can be scary, challenges can be exciting opportunities to prove ourselves. Challenges can be enjoyable to overcome. They can be opportunities to learn just what we can accomplish when we give it our all. Self-evaluation helps us recognize what our natural coping skills are and determine whether they are positive or negative coping skills.

Any time we complete a self-evaluation, we are looking at the progress, development, and learning that has taken place in a certain situation and deciding what has improved and what areas still need growth. Our self-talk plays a big role in this. Often, we set ourselves up for failure as soon as stress hits us simply by what we tell ourselves about the stressor.  We can tell ourselves how bad, scary, impossible, and horrible something is, or we can tell ourselves that through the power of God’s help we can overcome. When you are faced with stress what is your typical self-talk? Write in the space below what you typically tell yourself when faced with stress.

A Physical solution: Self-awareness

Self-awareness enables us to understand ourselves and what drives our needs, feelings, and habits. It helps us figure out what is behind our emotions and identify their root cause. Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.” Each one of us is a unique artwork, created by God. Because of that uniqueness we can’t look to how others respond to stress and life. We need to understand how we uniquely respond to it. We can start with asking, “Why do I feel this way?”

Whenever we begin to explore our self-awareness, a good place to start is keeping a journal on what you are trying to learn about yourself. By keeping a journal about the areas that cause you stress you can identify reoccurring stressors in your life and the way you currently deal with them. You can then evaluate if the way you deal with them is healthy or not.

To start your stress journal, write down each time you feel stress and then look for patterns or common themes. Each time you feel stressed, write down what caused the stress or if you are having trouble identifying the stressor, make a guess. You can correct it later if you need to.

Underneath the stressor, write about how you felt physically and emotionally. Then write about how you reacted to the stressor. Note if it was a healthy or unhealthy reaction.

Next, write about what you did to make yourself feel better, which is your natural coping strategy. Was this healthy or not, and why?

Now, plan for the next time you experience this stressor.

Lastly, spend some time in God’s Word and find a Bible verse that you can begin to memorize that relates to the stressor. Write the verse at the end of your journal page and begin memorizing now.

Benefits to journaling to discover self-awareness in stress

The benefits to journaling your way to self-awareness include:

  • finding new ways or better ways to deal with your stress
  • being able to determine if a change in circumstances is needed
  • being able to determine if your reaction to the stressor was positive or negative, healthy or unhealthy
  • identifying unnecessary stress that you can eliminate from your life.
  • discovering appropriate boundaries and personal limitations so you are better prepared to say “no” when necessary
  • setting priorities that will help eliminate stress
  • discovering and remembering God’s plan that will get you back on track to what He’s called you to do.
  • Identifying people that causes us stress

A Physical solution: Dealing with difficult people

If I say the words, “difficult people,” I can just about guarantee that a name or face popped in your mind…maybe even more than one person.  In a ministry profession, you can’t always just turn and walk away from the people that stress you out. Some of them have genuine needs and God has brought us into their lives to help meet those needs. But some of them are Satan’s flaming darts that is meant to disrupt or even destroy our ministry.  Make sure you determine which is true.

(All difficult people probably feel like “flaming darts” and our first reaction goes back to the fight or flight response. It is only through careful prayer and discernment from the Holy Spirit that we can determine if the difficult people in our lives are truly difficult or someone God placed in our path for us to minister to them. When encountering a difficult person, make prayer your first response.)

Even if difficult people are a “flaming dart,” there are pro-active ways to minimize the stress they cause. For example, you can limit the amount of time you spend with them. Try scheduling appointments with them that are short with another scheduled event following so that you have a reason to end the appointment.

Bring a ministry partner along when dealing with difficult people

You can also minimize stress from difficult people by making sure another ministry partner is included so that false accusations are less likely to occur. As a person in ministry, your reputation and integrity are at stake. A person’s ministry is often ended by the accusations of someone. Having a ministry partner with you will help protect you from accusations or when accusations are made, they can serve as a witness to what was said or done.

Schedule meetings with difficult people when you are most rested

You can also schedule that appointment when you are the most rested and would therefore have more patience with them and have a clearer mind to make decisions. If you are tired and worn down, you are more likely to handle difficult people in a negative way. Be proactive and make sure you get enough rest before meeting with these people.

Start with Prayer

Prayer is always a good place to start when you are dealing with a difficult person. Prior to an appointment with a difficult person, ask God to give you wisdom to deal with the person, a heart that is in tune with His, and ask Him if He is trying to teach you something through this person. You might be surprised what God will reveal to you if you spend some time in prayer about the difficult people that come into your life.

Terminate relationships, when necessary

There are times when relationships do need to be terminated. For example, if a person of the opposite gender makes an inappropriate sexual suggestion, end the appointment immediately and never end up in a situation where you are alone with them.  

A Physical solution: Environmental Stressors

Some stress can be handled by taking control of your environment. For example, if the evening news causes stress, then turn off the TV. If rush hour traffic stresses you out, consider going in a little earlier or later if it’s an option or change the route, even if it takes you longer to get to your destination. You can also try turning on your favorite Christian radio station or listen to a podcast of your favorite sermon or an audio book from your favorite author.

A Physical solution: Scheduling Stressors

Another stress reducer is to take time to analyze your schedule, responsibilities and daily tasks. Begin deleting the ones that are unnecessary, then prioritize the rest. Be sure you are including time with God through daily devotion and prayer and make this your highest priority.

Schedule demanding and taxing tasks when you are at your peak

After that look through the items and place the ones that might be more demanding or taxing on you and schedule them when you are at your peak performance level during the day. For some, that would be early morning. Others need to be awake a few hours before they really get going. Other people are night owls and are most effective later in the day.

Schedule quick, easy, routine tasks for when you are less productive

Plug in the quick, easy, routine items for your slow, less-productive times of the day. At the end of each day, review your schedule for the following day and prioritize the next day’s schedule so that you are ready to go in the morning and know what you must accomplish.

Mix things up

Try mixing your schedule each day with items that you enjoy doing with those that are more stressful. If you have an extremely stressful or unpleasant task or meeting the following day, take time to pray about it and surrender it to the Lord. This will help you sleep better and help prevent the stressor from robbing you of sleep. If you find it is keeping you awake, pray about it again and visualize in your mind handing the stressor to God. Try focusing on something that will be pleasant. Some find it helpful to think of an imaginary switch and visualizing flipping it to turn their mind “off” so they can sleep. Another helpful tip to help you fall asleep is to use a Bible app that has an audio feature and timer and let the app read the Bible to you until you fall asleep.


Self-care course and coaching

$399.00 $199.50

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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When we fight spiritual battles, we must put on the armor of God, who will fight our battles for us. He is our weapon, and the Bible is our ammo against the wiles of the devil.

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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.

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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We’re offering 30% discount on our speaker fees if booked by October 31, 2021. Call today and use the discount code: FALL2021.

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7 FREE Downloadable Resources

Now you can enhance your Bible Reading with the Verse Mapping Template

Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.

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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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2021 Bible Memory Verse Plan

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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Bible Reading Plan Download

One Year Bible Reading Plan

With just 30-40 minutes per day, you can read the entire Bible in one year. The One-Year Bible Reading Plan consists of both Old Testament and New Testament readings for each day of the year. The Bible is God’s personal Word to you. What is He saying to you today? Open your Bible and find out!

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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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Need some music to get you through the day? Check out one of our Playlists on YouTube

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You can also watch our animated devotionals on the YouTube Channel


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:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

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