Understanding Your Stress Threshold

Identify Your Stress Threshold

Most people believe that to say, “I’m stressed out,” is to express that something is wrong or negative in their lives. However, not all stress is bad and it cannot be totally eliminated while living; for without stress we would be dead. Each of us has a level of bearable stress, a personal stress threshold beyond which we become exhausted, weak and vulnerable. Psalm 23, one of the best known chapters in Scripture, describes David’s response to stress that exceeded his personal stress threshold. To successfully manage this stress, he first identified the point at which it had become dangerously overwhelming (vs. 4-5), and then sought God for comfort, support and protection (vs. 4b-6). This Psalm offers valuable insight in helping you identify your personal stress threshold. Like David, you must first determine the level where stress becomes noticeable, uncomfortable or painful, and then identify some positive steps to keep stressful events from exceeding this level.

One of the best ways to determine your stress threshold is to write down stressful events as they occur and your physical, mental and emotional reactions to them. Use a notebook or personal journal to record your observations. Every one to two weeks read what you have written and look for patterns in the things that stress you as well as your reactions to them. This is how you will identify your stress threshold. Continue to record and analyze your responses to increase your understanding and effectiveness in managing your personal stress threshold.

Focus on Your Relationship with God

To understand your stress threshold requires focusing on your relationship with God and spending time alone with Him. Establish a daily morning quiet time of worship and praise to mentally prepare for the day. Ask Him to show you in the Scriptures how to overcome your natural reactive responses to stress.

Some people constantly fret, worry and complain about how stressed they are. If you tend to react this way when anxious, troubled or weighed down by cares and responsibilities, you can keep stress under your threshold by reflecting on your blessings (Psalm 18), casting your worries and doubts on Christ, Who cares for you (1 Peter 5:7), and meditating on His promises (Psalm 46).

Other people know how to deal with stress in a more relaxed and composed manner. They are aware of their threshold and tend to view stress-producing events as opportunities for growth. If your reaction is similar to this, you are effectively managing your threshold by focusing on the many benefits and opportunities God gives you through stress, and relying on Him to provide encouragement and the strength to endure (Psalm 91).

Regardless of your reactions, remember God’s faithfulness, His past deliverance and how He always provides (Philippians 4:19). Sing songs of praise and gratitude. The Psalms make great praise and worship music that you can sing in a melody of your choice to combat extreme stress and emotional fatigue (Psalms 27, 36, 38, 40, just to cite a few). Seek to grow spiritually by learning how to practice spiritual disciplines like fasting and prayer to keep stress and burnout under your personal stress threshold.

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