PRINTABLE: Download our free printable poster with 12 ways to reduce stress and increase peace.
What happened when a practicing psychologist tracked her occurrences of anger? Even she was shocked by the results.
My Overcoming Emotions that Destroy co-author, Dr. Becca Johnson, conducted an experiment on the subject of anger. For one day, she decided to keep a log of all moments of frustration, irritation, anger, or rage, and what triggered the emotions.
She reports that her feelings varied greatly and gave her concern. While some incidents were fleeting moments of frustration, far too many were actual anger. And what’s worse — the triggers were insignificant inconveniences, like kids’ slow morning pace, inconsiderate drivers, or gas prices.
As Dr. Johnson investigated further, she asked herself: “What contributes to the anger of my day-to-day life?”
And her answer was surprisingly simple: stress.
STRESS PRODUCES ANGER
The relationship between stress and anger isn’t unusual. The more pressured, burned out, overwhelmed, or busy we become, the more anger will lie in wait, ready to explode at any moment.
The key to lessening our anger is our ability to reduce stress. Dr. Johnson says:
“The more stress we’re under the more likely it is that anger will make its appearance. Our goal is to reduce stress.”
Before we explore a few foolproof ways to reduce stress, I want to first address two critical areas we need to pay attention to in our efforts to create more peace in our lives and eliminate stress.
If you prefer to jump straight to the 12 practical ways to reduce stress, just use the links below.
- Eliminate hurry
- Downsize expectations
- Be merciful
- Admit mistakes and imperfections
- Get right with God
- Laugh more
- Experience God
- Take care of yourself
- Know what triggers your anger
- Trust God and His sovereignty
- Learn to say no
- Pray about everything
I appreciate the truth and simplicity of this statement by my co-author, Dr. Becca Johnson: The more stress we’re under the more likely it is that anger will make its appearance. Our goal is to reduce stress. Click To Tweet
ENVIRONMENT + PERSPECTIVE IMPACT STRESS
In a previous article, we explored how to go from mad to missional with our anger. No matter where our anger is rooted or how we manage our emotions, the two factors that have a tremendous impact on our stress are environment and perspective.
Experts agree that your environment has an impact on your level of anxiety and stress. That’s why recommendations to reduce stress include adjusting your environment, like lighting a candle or listening to soothing music, as suggested by Healthline. Likewise, our outlook is key to viewing external circumstances in a positive or negative light, which will undoubtedly impact our reaction and, ultimately, stress level.
After spending years living off the fumes of stress, I’ve learned techniques from many wise people about reducing stress and gaining more peace. Below, I share a few of the practical, foolproof ways I’ve been taught to reduce stress in my life.
13 Biblical Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Life Today
1. Eliminate hurry
Running around in flight-or-flight mode is no small thing. Speed and godliness are incompatible; hurry and loving others are simply incompatible. That’s why I appreciate this reminder from Dallas Willard:
“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
2. Downsize expectations
Because our expectations are so high and we’re under pressure, anger bubbles out.
I have to ask — who’s pressuring you to have a spotless house at all times? Where does it say that you have to return every single call on the same day? Or return an email immediately? Evaluate and set realistic expectations.
3. Be merciful
Love your enemies and do good to them. Let people off the hook and don’t worry about vengeance, which is God’s.
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)
4. Admit mistakes and imperfections
As we say here at Living on the Edge, “Own your stuff.”
If we mess up, we admit it. No excuses, no blaming others. You’d be amazed at the relief of admitting the truth and acknowledging you’re a part of the human race.
Think about it — do you realize how much stress we’re under to slightly bend the truth? Resist the urge and instead, tell the truth.
5. Get right with God
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7-8)
Being in right relationship with the Creator is the beginning of peace.
6. Laugh more
One of my favorite remedies for reducing stress is found in Proverbs 17:22: A cheerful heart is good medicine.
In short, don’t take life or yourself too seriously.
7. Experience God
Experiencing God’s unconditional love and acceptance is transformative. Routinely ask God to remind you of the truth of this verse.
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
8. Take care of yourself
You matter. You’re important, precious, and loved. You don’t have to be a health nut or professional athlete to experience the benefits of good nutrition, movement, and sunshine. Get some for yourself today.
9. Know what triggers your anger
HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. I appreciate this acronym for helping me to stop and take inventory and consider if my physical experience is triggering my anger.
Stop when you’re experiencing those feelings and care well for yourself. It’s extremely hard to make good decisions when you’re in that state. Likewise, you’ll be less patient and more likely to react in anger.
10. Trust God and His sovereignty
Take a deep breath and let the Sovereign God be in control.
“‘To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God’?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.”
11. Learn to say no
I will always remember this truth I was taught by my friend, Chuck Swindoll:
“Learn to say no — kindly, artfully, and with excellence.”
The truth is, letting guilt drive your schedule will lead to resentment. To reduce stress in your life, practice your gracious “no.”I appreciate my friend Chuck Swindoll's words: Learn to say no kindly, artfully, and with excellence. To reduce stress in your life, practice your gracious no. Click To Tweet
12. Pray about everything
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
When you pray, your perspective of God is bigger. In turn, your perspective of your problems will get smaller.
I hope you’ll download a printable poster of these 12 biblical ways to reduce stress. Post it in your office or home and be reminded of practical ways to replace stress with peace.
But most importantly, I hope you’ll ask God to show you which items are blocking His peace from your life. Begin practicing the truths that will build your muscles of giving God control and reducing stress today.
For more practical help on exchanging anger for peace and managing strong emotions, check out my YouTube sermon entitled Overcoming Emotions That Destroy.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip