We’re probably used to hearing that Singaporeans are stressed. Given how fast-paced life has become in our city-state and the many responsibilities we have to shoulder, it’s hardly surprising.
But a recent article in Business Insider Singapore put it in starker terms when it cited a global report showing that 160,000 people here are hospitalised each year from stress-related problems. That’s more than 400 people admitted each day from mental issues and physical problems associated with stress.
What can we do to avoid or reduce stress?
As Christians, we may be reminded to “don’t worry, just trust in God”. But honestly, that can be difficult when we have to face the daily reality of work and family responsibilities, tight deadlines, and burdensome expectations.
There are some practical ways to deal with stress, including:
- Reviewing our goals in life, and asking ourselves: What really matters? What is more or less important?
- Managing our time and priorities, setting realistic deadlines, choosing our commitments, and asking for help when we need it.
- Taking care of our own health, and getting enough rest, food, and exercise.
These may seem to be common-sense tips. But if we apply them with a biblical perspective, we may discover how God’s Word offers us freedom from some of the demands of this world:
What are we seeking? Jesus tells us to be on our guard against the pursuit of material wealth and worldly success. The Parable of the Rich Fool reminds us to focus on storing up “treasure in heaven that will never fail” (Luke 12:33). Where is our stress coming from? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 34).
What are our concerns? While stress can come from having to care for others or worries over our health and family’s well-being, Jesus reminds us that our Father is fully aware of our loved ones’ needs and our own. In Matthew 6:25–34, He assures us that God cares for us deeply. If God will feed the sparrows and give beauty to the flowers, how much more will He feed and clothe us? Jesus says: “Our heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (v. 32–33).
What can we do without? The apostle Paul could remain joyful when he was in dire circumstances, because “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). He learnt to see beyond his needs, and to draw strength and joy from being with God. And he could “do all this through [God] who gives me strength” (v. 13).
Many sources of our stress, like our responsibilities and duties, are unavoidable. But if we can learn to take a biblical approach to responding to some of the expectations and demands that we face—from others, society, and ourselves—we may find that we no longer need to strive so hard to meet those expectations.
Ultimately, we also know we can turn to God for help. As we re-evaluate our own needs and expectations, we can rely on Him completely: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Lord, please help me to review
my goals and priorities in life
and see them through Your eyes.
And grant me strength
to deal with the stress I feel each day.