Our biggest sale! 50% off your PLUS subscription. Use code SUMMER

3 Ways to Reduce Stress

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Apr 16, 2024
3 Ways to Reduce Stress

If you ask someone how they are doing, their response is typically "stressed," "tired," or "okay." We might be stressed or tired, but we're surely not okay, are we?

April is Stress-awareness Month—I'm not sure about you, but I feel like every month could fit that description. Between teaching, writing, dancing, and maintaining my physical and spiritual workout plans, most days I'm overwhelmed, to say the least. Worry, anxiety, depression, and productivity become my best friends, my closest companions. Can you relate?

According to the American Psychological Association, stress in America and across the globe is common. If you ask someone how they are doing, their response is typically "stressed," "tired," or "okay." We might be stressed or tired, but we're surely not okay, are we?

If we as a society want to recover from stress and support one another, we need to look at what Jesus says about rest and taking care of ourselves. Here are three ways to reduce stress this April. 

1. Take Breaks

In Mark 2, Jesus forgives and heals a paralyzed man. He then goes on to call Levi a disciple and eat with sinners. That evening, Jesus is questioned about fasting and being Lord of the Sabbath. It's a lengthy passage, but I believe verses 23-28 sum up the theme of the chapter well: 

"One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, 'Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?' He answered, 'Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.' Then he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath'" (Mark 2:23-28, NIV, emphasis mine).

Though this Scripture emphasizes Jesus' supremacy over the Sabbath, it reminds me that breaks are a normal and necessary part of life. The Sabbath was created for us to remind us of our limited strength. It's in our weakness that God desires us to turn to Him for His steadfast and infinite power and strength. 

Taking breaks is something I'm horrible at. I work 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days and then wonder why I'm tired, irritable, and famished. Though I think, act, or want to believe I'm superhuman and can do it all, I must confess that I'm not. We're not machines created to run 24/7 without rest. We're human beings who belong to a God who loved us enough to give us Sabbath—not because He needed it, but because He knew we would.

In Genesis 2:2, Scripture notes: "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work" (NIV). If our God is the God who never tires, slumbers, or sleeps (Psalm 121:4), then that means His decision to rest on the seventh day was for us. He didn't need the rest. He never will. But He knew and knows we do. 

Taking breaks not only reduces stress but helps kick in our parasympathetic nervous system. It allows us just enough time to breathe, think, and reset before we go on with the rest of our day. If taking breaks is difficult for you, practice with small beginnings. Try setting a timer for five minutes and meditating on God's Word or saying a simple prayer. If you're at work and stressed, pause and take a quick 10-minute walk if you're able. 

As a teacher, I find taking breaks impossible. They're not built well into our schedules. Many of you might have similar predicaments. But over time, I learned methods to success: Locking my classroom at lunch and sitting down for at least five minutes. Deep breathing before and after students come into my classroom. Making a list when I get overwhelmed. Reminding myself I'm not God, and I've done all I can do at the end of the day.  

2. Take Deep Breaths and Meditate 

While the Bible may not explicitly state, "thou shall take a deep breath," multiple passages remind us to release control and rest in the One who's called us His children. This requires confession, commitment, and surrender. 

In Galatians 2:20, we read these words: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (ESV). 

One great way to reduce stress is to remember that Christ died for me. When I entered into a relationship with Him, He removed every sin from my life and placed His Spirit within me. That means that no matter where I go, what I do, or how stressed or anxious I still might be, He's with me. The same is true for you. 

Though we may still suffer from things like stress, anxiety, or depression on this side of heaven, there's freedom in knowing we're free and have been set free (John 8:36). We can meditate on His promises that are true now and will remain true for eternity (Isaiah 55:11; 1 Peter 1:25). 

Taking deep breaths when you're stressed is most effective by using a 4-4-8 pattern. This means inhaling through your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for four seconds, and letting it out through your mouth slowly for eight seconds. I pair this with biblical meditation: Reciting a favorite passage or Scripture as I breathe deeply. Everyone is different, so try what works for you. 

3. Take Heart

The final way to reduce stress this April might sound cliché, but I promise it isn't. Sometimes, one of the most powerful tools for fighting stressful times is to remember you're not alone. You deserve to have people validate the hardships you're going through. 

Proverbs 18:24 always reminds me of the comfort and security we have in friends and family who support us through our struggles and remind us to take heart: " A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (ESV).

In John 16:33, Jesus writes these words: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (NIV). Surely those troubles include stress, worry, and fear. But the good news is this: With Christ and the tools here on Earth He's blessed us with, we can learn to manage and reduce stress one step at a time. 

Agape, Amber

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/FamVeld

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at amberginter.com.