I’m Stressed Out

December 10, 2012 — 6 Comments

RE-POST: This entry was from my old blog.  I thought I’d share it again to offer some encouragement during the holiday season.

It’s a confession we hear almost daily from friends, family members, co-workers, and littered all over Facebook. It seems to be the first thing some people want to talk about, almost as if it’s a bragging point.  And it’s only getting more frequent.

Usually, when we say “I’m stressed” we’re commenting on the weight of external circumstances – responsibilities at work, tension in the home environment, relationships that are on the rocks, a looming deadline.  Understandably, these things can feel heavy and unwanted.


[Photo by Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, Creative Commons]

Yet as we work towards our solution, it’s important that we understand the difference between stress and pressure.  A brief lesson in physics shows us that when an external force is applied, it’s called pressure.  So, more accurately, what we should be saying is,“I’m feeling a lot of pressure”.

So then, what is stress?  Stress is defined as internal resistance to an external load.

“Thanks Luke. You’re a freaking genius. But why is that important?”

Because we need be reminded that stress is not the pressure we feel.  Stress is our response to the pressure we feel.  In other words, stress is not something that just happens to you. Stress is what happens when your inner core is weaker than the pressures of life.

  • I’ve heard that Winston Churchill was able to read a book every night even during the WW2 Blitz? (source unknown)
  • Ever wonder why Jesus was able to sleep during a storm when everyone else was frantic on the boat?

It’s not because these men didn’t have pressure or a reason to freak out.  It’s not because they denied or ignored what was happening.  It’s because they were stronger internally than the circumstances that were imposed on them.

Sometimes we respond to “stressful” situations by trying to eliminate external pressure (And sometimes that’s what’s needed.)  But if we never work to develop internal strength, capacity, peace, joy, and confidence, then we just end up buckling every time the next bit of pressure comes our way.  Surely, we will always encounter a trial or a challenge that is above our heads, but the question is –

Are we spending more energy running from pressure or learning how to dance with it?

Statistics say that we Americans are more stressed out than we’ve ever been.  I wonder if that actually means we’re weaker than we’ve ever been. When we hear someone say, “I’m stressed out,” I wonder if it’s more of a confession of internal weakness than an announcement of a great trial.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away,our inner self is being renewed day by day. – 2 Cor. 4:16 (ESV)

Do you agree or disagree?
Does this describe you?
What else can we do to deal with stress? 

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  • Great post. Thanks, Luke.

  • Nikalas Nowell

    This is similar to the phrase, “I’m SO busy!” I used to thrive on that, thinking that being busy showed other people how important I am that so many people need me and my time. Being “stressed out” tends to receive a similar response from others. It’s not only a sign that maybe we need to shore up our core, but also that we might be attention/approval seeking, or that we’re desperate for encouragement. We want to hear other people tell us they think we’re strong and we’ll get through it – whatever IT is.

    For me, greater maturity has brought greater freedom, and now it annoys me when people tell me they know how busy or stressed out I am and assume I don’t have time for them. Above all, I want to be internally stronger than the external forces…a jar of clay. ;)

  • Janet Nowell

    Great post! This is such a good description. During the times in my life when I’ve felt the greatest pressure (or stress as I would have previously described it) most often the situation did not change to ease the strain, instead I had to find ways to become stronger to adapt to it.

  • You’re welcome, Wade!

  • Yes!! I agree with you that many people talk about stress as a way to gain approval and validation. We play the victim card so we can manipulate people to care. Great insights. Thanks Niki.

  • Wow. There’s so much wisdom in that Janet. Thanks for sharing.