5 Severe Consequences of a Stress-Filled Life

We can now say that “death and taxes” are no longer the sure thing anymore. Stress has become an inevitable part of life for just about everyone.

The problem is, we seem to be going along with it, without much resistance against the pull of cultural stress.

Stress has become the partner of progress and achievement. The more a society gets accomplished, the more stress gets stacked on. Once we tapped into great achievements, we got addicted to it and along came the heavy weight of stress.

Every time we take a step up, move up, add something or advance forward, we add another layer of pressure. I don’t even have to give you examples of stress, because most likely, you have at least 3 to 5 stressors in your life right now.

The Good News About Stress

Thank God that he has equipped us to handle and withstand stress, with your stress response, which engages a “fight or flight” mechanism. It waits on standby for any stressor to arise, which will help you gather the energy and focus you need to work through a difficult situation.

The problem is, this response system is only intended to be used for temporary situations. Most people are running this stress response all day, every day.

When we encounter stressful situations or if you live a stressful life, your body, from your brain, to your heart, to the nervous system; your lungs and immune system are all affected. Every body system to some degree gets impacted when changes arise as a result of stress on the physiology.

Good Stress vs Bad Stress

There is such a thing as good stress that kicks in. These are moments that stretch you and call you to rise up to a circumstance. The goal of living “stress free” by no means implies you are doing nothing, sitting by the beach and relaxing. Living stress free means you know how to access comfort in the midst of storms, you can hold your peace and recover from challenging seasons.

Some of you actually shine when a little bit of pressure gets put on you. It causes you to face your fears, grow and overcome. Many people find their greatest breakthroughs when their back was against the wall, the odds were stacked and impossibilities surrounded them.

The Stress Problem

The problem is: when our natural stress response system gets overused, or gets used over a long period of time – there are very negative results. They do not pop up right away. In fact, you will feel like you can get away with your stress driven lifestyle. But over the long haul, these factors will rise up and work against you.

1. Your Physical Health Suffers

Any chronic stressor will have some form of impact on your physical health. It compromises the body’s ability to fight off invading illnesses and can keep you from maintaining physical homeostasis.

It is not unusual for your doctor to tell you to deal with your stress issues, to improve the quality of your health. The problem is, doctors don’t have time to walk you through how to get free from stress. They often give you a prescription, which addresses symptoms, but never helps get to the root issues that may be impacting your health.

But even if they did focus on helping you with stress, odds are, you are probably stubborn about your lifestyle. No one can make changes for you. Only you can make the decision to change how you live.

But there is another negative side to stress that happens long before those physical results. Long before you go to the doctor for health issues, like heart disease, ulcers or illnesses that come out of a compromised immune system, there are some other areas that get affected by stress.

2. The Quality of Your Relationships Suffer

Most people adjust their lifestyle to keep up with stress. As layers mount up, you move into frantic busyness, to the point that we become addicted to being busy.

As your life becomes insanely busy, a number of things happen:

  1. It’s almost impossible to have relational intimacy with a person in that kind of cycle.
  2. The enemy uses busy-ness as a weapon to distract you and keep you from dealing with your heart-life.
  3. Friendship becomes something more of a means to an end. If you can get something immediate from a person, you may be interested. If not, you’re primarily focused on the accomplishment and achievements of the day.
  4. Relationships become very shallow, unless a crisis happens.
  5. Connections become events that you punch on the calendar, but there is less of a natural flow of relationships.
  6. You get upset when someone calls your phone, because your stress filled life is being interrupted.
  7. No one gets your undivided attention.

When you are under too many layers of stress and we’re in this cycle of busyness, your capacity to love, and receive love begin to shrink. Your attention is splintered into thousands of directions. There are times I have been with people and could tell they were not listening to me. Aware I did not have their attention, I started giving a spiraling story of how I am depressed and no longer want to live, just to see if it may jar them back into listening. Some people can be so distracted, they are completely unaware!

Stress can disconnect you from people, even though you are right in front of them. You lose touch with true connection and intimacy. You may even come to a point where you feel so lonely and isolated; even though you’re around all these people.

You may be surrounded by people you consider to be friends, but you have no idea what they are struggling with deep down inside. There is no real deep exchange.

So we become used to shallow interactions and develop no value for depth.

Your marriage and parenting suffers. Your wife or husband may have to adjust to your stress filled life. You may have them thinking that you are a victim of your stress life, but in the long run, the quality of your marriage and relationship with your children will suffer.

Over time, children get used to say,

  • “Dad is busy. He is just not around.”
  • “Mom is just always doing something else. She is constantly distracted.”
  • “It seems like you’re gone all the time. And even when you’re here, you’re not here.”

3. Your Relationship with God Suffers.

When you are in a stress lifestyle, relationships suffer, including your relationship with God.

Connection with God is not cultivated in a drive through, fast food, microwave type of environment. It must be built on stillness, taking time to receive and learning to slow your heart to cultivate healthy perspectives.

When you give into a stress driven lifestyle:

  1. God rarely gets your undivided attention, unless you are in a crisis and you need something.
  2. You start to search for quick and easy spiritual books and resources, so you can feel like you are growing spiritually.
  3. It becomes difficult to pray, because your mind can’t stop spinning and moving in a million different directions.
  4. Having quality quiet time seems almost impossible.
  5. Worship becomes something you do for a few moments in church on Sunday.
  6. Your mind loses focus on what’s important.
  7. You can easily get angry with God. He is not moving with your light-speed lifestyle, so you become embittered by the consequences you are facing. Somehow God gets blamed for the pressure you are under and the demands you have accepted in your life.

God becomes like our friends, a means to an end. We don’t say this, but our lives say to God, “God, just give me the stuff. Give me the truth so I can get through this mess. Enough of the singing, enough of the pain, enough of the small talk, just give me the meat so I can get through. Just give me the answer now so I can move on in this day.”

4. The Body of Christ is Impacted.

You know what I’ve noticed? People don’t have time for building up the body of Christ. There is no time to disciple and mentor others. And it’s just as well, because the people who need discipling, don’t have time to be discipled. It’s a terrible cycle we’ve gotten pulled into.

It can be a rare occurrence to see a man or woman of God carve out time to invest in someone. disciple another person, or to be a small group leader, or to be involved in ministry in the body.

Every believer has a call on their lives. But no one seems to have time for it. And the reason you hear when you ask them “why” is, “I’m just too busy!”

“Well why don’t you cut out some of those things?”

“I can’t!”

Our lives have become prisoners to the pressure of stress.

5. Your Inner Life Suffers.

Meanwhile, your inner life slowly erodes as you ignore the issues of your heart that need addressing. Your response to stressors becomes, “God fix this circumstance” instead of “God, grow me in this season.”

Stress relief is an inside job. It has more to do with how you respond to circumstances in life. And that takes a well cultivated heart life.

That’s why you can see one person dealing with stress in a terrible manner, and then you see another person who seems to have such a great sense of peace, but their circumstances are so much worse! Stress has just as much to do with what goes on inside of you, then just simply what’s going on outside in your circumstances.

So there are two things we need to decide up front about stress:

  1. How can I reduce the “stressors” in my life by making solid decisions?
  2. Ask the question: “How can I learn to handle the unavoidable stressors better?” In other words, there are stresses that we cannot get away from. There are stressors that we cannot avoid. There are circumstances that are just not going to go away.

So the question is, since I can’t remove all stresses, how should I respond so that they don’t put me under the pile? How do I break out of these bad habits that cause me to get into terrible and destructive patterns, so I can pour my life back into community with God and with other people?

How can I get back to having real and quality relationships with God and others?

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