How to Handle Stress and Remain Calm

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I have lived in the metro area of Atlanta since 1995. When my family first moved here, I was not used to the insanity of the traffic. I grew up in the bucolic, open spaces of the mountains of North Carolina. Where I learned to drive – Mt Airy, NC - is literally the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry in the Andy Griffith show. After living here for nearly a quarter of a century, I now drive faster, more aggressively, and find myself with far less patience on the roads. 

Not long after moving here, I was driving on I-75 and saw a car with a Christian bumper sticker that read, “Honk If You Love Jesus.” In my naiveté I thought that was an invitation to be friendly, so I pulled up beside the car and blew my horn. 

Imagine my surprise when the frazzled woman glared at me and flipped me off! She shot me a bird. She gave me the one-fingered salute. She gave me half a peace sign. She should remove that bumper sticker from her car if she doesn’t like good Christian horn-blowing. 

I can give her the benefit of the doubt because I have certainly felt stressed out before. When you feel the blood pressure rising, the veins popping out on your forehead, the nostrils flaring, and your middle finger twitching, here are a few things to try. I believe they will help. 

·     Breathe. 

Sometimes just breathing deeply can release and reduce stress. In. Out. Repeat. When you feel anger swelling within your breast, just breathe. 

·     Give thanks.

Whenever I feel frustration building, I can either give into it and let anger rule me or I can start thanking God for all he has done. Being thankful helps release your frustration more than you can imagine. Start thanking God for as many good things as you can think of and then thank him for the situation that frustrates you. He gets glory from this. The Bible tells us to give thanks in everything. Being thankful works. You can start by thanking God for Jesus, salvation, grace and lots of his blessings. Rather than getting frustrated by traffic, thank him that you have a car and a job. You will start feeling relief immediately. 

·     Make a joyful noise. 

Psalm 100 tells us, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” Singing out loud to the Lord is what the Psalmist had in mind. Try singing and being thankful. It helps. 

·     Let it go. 

The Apostle Paul wrote to us and said that we should give all of our cares and burdens to the Lord because he cares for us. Determine in your mind to release your stress and problems to the Lord. You will be much happier, and your drive time will be much more tolerable. And when someone honks their horn at you, you will wave with all five fingers.