Stress is the disease of the twenty-first century. It is the culprit behind a large percentage (I have heard numbers as high as 80 percent) of our illnesses. Our bodies are built to handle stress unless it becomes excessive and repetitive. When it does, we are in danger of many unhealthy results.
If you want to improve your health, you must make a decision to not allow
excessive stress in your life. Life probably won’t change, so that means you will have to change how you approach and
respond to life. For example, worry, anxiety, and fear are major stressors, and we can eliminate them by trusting God
and casting our care on Him.
Excessive stress produces too much of the hormone cortisol in our body, and this is dangerous. People can actually become addicted to it, like a drug. The more they live with the gas pedal of their life pressed to the floor, the more stressed
out they feel, and they hate it, but they become so accustomed to it that they crave it. They don’t know how to rest and relax.
People brag about living in the fast lane of life, but truthfully that is where all the wrecks take place. Most people, when
asked if they were too busy, would say yes. But interestingly enough, they are the only ones who can make the decision to
change lanes. Most people complain all the time about their schedules, but they never do anything about them. To complain
and do nothing to make one’s situation better is a total waste of time and very foolish.
Here is what even a little cortisol does in your body. It sends your heart into overdrive, pounding at four times its
natural rate, and it does the same thing for your lungs. It constricts your blood vessels and raises your blood pressure to
It dries up your mouth and shuts down your stomach and intestines. It drains the blood from your face and skin. It scrambles your immune system. It wrecks your sleep, turns off sexual interest and reproductive capability, slows healing, and increases your risk of periodontal disease, skin disease, and autoimmune diseases. It turns off short-term memory and
rational thought. It actually shrinks part of your brain. It even makes you overeat. We know that many people overeat due to
stress. It is one of those patterns we talked about earlier.
When they feelstressed, they habitually go to food to find comfort.
Sounds like bad news, doesn’t it? You’d think that people would go out of their way to steer clear of this “drug.” Yet we
give ourselves doses of it every day. I was addicted to it for many years of my life. As I said, we can handle normal amounts of stress. Cortisol is helpful when you need to respond to a stressful incident, like avoiding hitting a car when someone
suddenly pulls in front of you on the highway. All of the physical effects of cortisol take place in the body, but the body
soon returns to normal when the danger has passed and the stress is over. But when stress is continual, it wears your body out.
It is impossible to be healthy and maintain high levels of stress over a long period of time. Develop the habit of living wisely now so you won’t be worn-out by the time you are forty or fifty years old.
If you have already spent years not taking care of yourself and you are sick, tired, and worn-out, don’t think it is too latefor you.
Start developing healthy habits right now, and every good choice you make now will begin repairing any damage
that has been done. It is never too late to begin.
Start paying attention to what causes you to experience stress and make changes. It is as simple as that, and if you make it more complicated, you will more than likely never change. No matter how many reasons and excuses we have for living with stress, the truth is that we can eliminate a lot ofstress from our lives if we truly want to.