Is it possible to live a Stress-free life?

May 26, 2022 | 17 comments

Today we conclude our 4-part series by Russell Semon with what may be the most important question:

Part 1: What is Stress?

Part 2: How does your body respond to Stress? (Physiology)

Part 3: What role does your mind play in responding to Stress? (Belief / Perception)

Part 4: Is it possible to live a Stress-Free life?

As we’ve done throughout the series, you can win a free Cerny Smith (stress) Assessment worth $200 by leaving a comment on this post. If you’ve never heard about the CSA, learn more here. On to today’s article!


Is that really your goal? You see, identifying the correct goal is important in counseling, it’s important in life. If you removed all stress from your life, have you thought about how you’d grow or mature beyond where you are right now? Have you ever grown without being challenged to try something new or unfamiliar? If you actually found yourself in a life-threatening situation, wouldn’t it be to your advantage to have a physiological response that increased your awareness and performance? 

There are benefits to manageable levels of stress.

So, maybe the question, the goal, isn’t how to live a stress-free life (which is good, because stress is inevitable), but maybe the goal is to develop your resilience, sufficient to meet the challenges of each day. Resilience is our ability to bend but not break, bounce back, and even grow in response to life challenges, aka stressors. Our bodies are designed to respond to stress physiologically. When the weight or burdens we face exceed our capacity to hold or endure them we have choices. When the temperature around us increases, we don’t have to wait until we reach our boiling point. Our perspective can impact our physiological responses and the choices we make. 

Paul faced stress in his life, and he made choices. His perspective and his beliefs strengthened him in his response. When Paul addressed the Philippians (4:13), he told them that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  In context, Paul had been telling the Philippians that he had been hungry and well-fed, he had known what it was like to not have his needs met and to have an abundance. He learned that whatever his circumstances, he could be content. Paul would likely have scored high on a stress inventory, but he also would have scored high on a resiliency scale. In his address to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 4:8,9), Paul provides a great example of his resilience when he said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Do you hear bend but not break, bounce back, and even grow, in his message? I do.

So, you may be thinking, Paul sets a really high bar for a lot of us. But the point is that how he lived, how he faced the challenges in life, wasn’t in his own strength. In fact, he told the Philippians (2:13-15), “…it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Paul wasn’t living a life that isn’t available to us, he was a living example of how we can live lives of fulfillment, when we follow Christ. I think Psalms 23 offers one of the best visual images of the life available to us as we follow, “The Lord who is my Shepherd.”  

With the Lord as my shepherd, 

  • He provides all I need, 
  • He makes me rest and gives me peace, 
  • He restores my soul,
  • He guides me along the right path even in my most challenging times,
  • He calms my fears,
  • He comforts me,
  • He protects me,
  • He fills my cup to running over,
  • Goodness and Mercy follow me all my days,
  • I have hope in eternity!

When my needs are met, when I’m rested and my soul is restored, when I am not fearful, even in the face of the most challenging time in my life, with the Lord as my shepherd, I may bend, but I won’t break. It will be easier to bounce back and even grow in response to life challenges that show up as stress. You may not be able to live a stress-free life, but as you live following the Lord as your shepherd, the words of the psalm can become a picture of your life. 

My prayer for you is that as you follow the Lord, you will experience, 

—His Grace as sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), 

—His Mercies as new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24), and 

—That the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds (Phil 4:7). 

Thank you so much for your time and attention, I pray that you found the information in this series to be helpful, and that you were encouraged as you seek to live and minister as God has called you. If you’re curious how the stress you’re facing compares with your resiliency, as we have done on the other four posts in this series, leave a comment and five of you will be drawn to win a Cerny Smith Assessment and a follow-up video call with me. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world!

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Russell Semon

Husband, Father, Counselor, Stress Specialist, Fan of life-long learning

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17 Comments

  1. Karrie

    The “key” isn’t to live a stress-free life. The key is that inner strength that comes from our walk with God (aka resilience).

    Reply
  2. Angelica Bradley

    “When I’m rested and my soul is restored.” It’s a very attractive idea. Something I’d love to make true in my life practice.

    Reply
    • Russell

      Angelica, thank you. Exactly, It’s an attractive idea that can become part of your life practice. Practice those things that give you rest and restore your soul.

      Reply
  3. Wendy

    Before going on the field, God gave me Psalm 23 as His promise for the challenging days ahead. And for the past 10 years through all the ups and downs, I have clung to the truths of this passage. Now I understand that that has been one of the keys for God to develop resiliency in me.

    Reply
    • Russell

      Wendy, thank you. Great is His faithfulness.

      Reply
  4. Sally

    I just love this! It is encouraging to recognise that stress free living is not the aim, but this contentment and hope that comes from the Lord is right there.

    I may bend but I won’t break. Beautiful. Thank you for this.

    Reply
  5. Linda

    I’ve really appreciated the thoughts of bending but not breaking. So needful in these stressful days when my country of service is at war. (Ukraine)

    Reply
  6. Lynn

    “Our perspective can impact our physiological responses and the choices we make.” Thank you for your thoughtful posts. The visual images of how the Lord is our Shepherd have been really helpful to me in the past and have helped my perspective to change.

    Reply
  7. Ash

    Love these reminders. To bend and gain resilience but not break.

    Reply
  8. Karin

    Grateful for the reminders of placing my focus on who God is and His promises rather than the stressors of life.

    Reply
  9. Karen

    Thank you. I have appreciated the Biblical approach to understanding stress in these articles. I sometimes struggle with evaluating which resources in the “member care” world are really pointing to God’s ways versus a self-focused idea that we as believers will be restored by the same things that everyone else might look to for stress control/relief. But these articles have definitely avoided that pitfall and given me a better Scriptural perspective.

    Reply
  10. Joan Justiniano

    Psalm 23 is a wonderful source of calm in the midst of stress. I love the concise list you made of the promises and comfort contained in that Psalm. Thank you. This has been an informative series.

    Reply
  11. Heather Fowler

    Maybe my goal would be to appreciate stress as the means to growth rather than trying various escape routes.

    Reply
  12. Belle

    The whole world has been in high stress over these pandemic years and it has been a real connecting point (we are on home assignment) to the cross-cultural struggles of isolation and lack of community. These articles are so relevant right now and have pointed to The One who gives peace beyond understanding. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Dina

    I have thought about how this is the first time I can think of that the entire world has been impacted in this generation. With everyone stressed and afraid simultaneously, plus the isolation at various times, it’s a season when normal coping measures may not be available as others have their own needs too.

    Reply
  14. Erin

    I definitely feel the physical response in my body to stress, but this was a good reminder that a stress free life isn’t the goal.

    Reply
  15. Janet Dallman

    I like the idea of reading through/leading others through the phrases from Psalm 23. Taking the time to sit down, be quiet and read them or speak them aloud, intentionally remembering God’s presence and care. I think you could then ask people to reflect on practical ways God has already cared for them in the past, as well as asking God to care about specific things in the present. This could make a very helpful meditation, either as a ‘one-off’ or as a regular part of devotional life and/or stress relief.

    Reply

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