Plus a FREE Printable – 7 Steps to Defeating Fear
Time magazine’s June 6, 1983 cover story called stress “The Epidemic of the Eighties.” They referred to it as a leading health problem. There is no doubt that the stress situation has worsened since them. Numerous surveys confirm that adult Americans perceive that they are under much more stress than a decade or two ago. The problem is, most people don’t know how to overcome stress in their lives. Many people seek medical help to manage the symptoms, but God has a better way, and it’s found in His Word. Today I want to share with you seven easy steps to defeating stress in your life.
What might be contributing to stress in your life?
It has been estimated that between 75-90% of all visits to primary health care physicians are due to stress-related problems. Job stress, is by far, the leading source of stress levels in adults. However, stress levels have also escalated in children, teenagers, college students, and the elderly. Some of their main concerns are increased crime, violence, and other threats to personal safety, pernicious peer pressure that leads to substance abuse and other unhealthy lifestyle habits, social isolation and loneliness, and the erosion of family and religious values and ties.
Stress is a modern word for a spirit of fear.
Many people don’t even realize that stress is just a modern word for fear. Fear is actually a spirit of fear that influences our thoughts.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
In any given situation, fear wants to “help” us process the event. It wants to keep us from taking our struggles to the Father who could help us properly process and deal with the situation.
Fear speaks to our spirit, and our theta brainwaves bring the fear thought to our mind to process it. If we don’t identify it as an invasive thought and cast it down, we allow that spirit of fear to remain in us and tempt us with fearful thoughts and feelings.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV
How can you recognize when a spirit of fear is talking?
The problem is that people don’t know how to identify the thoughts that fear is feeding them. They have the thought and think it’s their own and carry on with it, allowing it to wreak havoc in their spirit, soul (mind), and body.
Fear can affect your body, your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and your behavior. Recognizing common fear symptoms can give you a jump on managing fear and stress in your life. Defeating fear now has a long term benefit because fear, left unchecked, can contribute to many more serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Why do we have fear, and how does it affect our bodies?
Our bodies tell us every time we are in fight or flight. Fight or flight is a mechanism designed by God to protect us from real danger like a car coming at you. In such a case, the brain will trigger an alert to the rest of your body and stimulate the the adrenal glands to release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into the body. The purpose of these hormones is to prepare the body to either fight or flee. They cause the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate to increase and transfer extra blood and energy away from body functions like the digestive system and the immune system, and into the muscles to increase strength and stamina.
Fight or flight is an important protective response; however, God never intended for us to remain in that state long-term. Once the immediate danger passes, your body should return to peace. What the enemy wants to do is to make us believe that we are in danger continually. He will feed us fearful thoughts that will cause worry and stress and will release the fight or flight hormones into our body. When the stress is prolonged, those same hormones that were created to protect you will begin to cause damage in your body, and diseases will develop. I liken living in a continual state of fight or flight to driving a car with your foot on the brakes. Over time the breaks will wear down and cause damage.
Taking inventory of your thoughts
Your body will not go into fight or flight without a fear thought. When we recognize that we do not feel at ease or at peace, we can stop and say, “Okay, what am I thinking about that is causing my body to feel this way?” Make a list of these thoughts and take inventory every time, and you will begin to recognize a pattern.
Once you’ve identified the specific thoughts you have been listening to, ask God to help you find scriptures to overthrow those thoughts. For example, if you are fearful that you may not be able to make ends meet financially; maybe the enemy is telling you that you’re going to lose your house or not have enough food, Matthew 6 can be your antidote:
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof. Matthew 6:31-34 KJV
So your answer is to seek God’s kingdom and to trust Him that He will take care of your needs. Step by step, as you continue to follow this process, you will walk right out of fear, stress, and anxiety. God gives us a clear out in scripture but we have to take responsibility and recognize what thoughts we are agreeing with.
God expresses His love for us through His Word to set us free.
When you read scriptures like Matthew 6, you need to receive the love of God through it. The love of God is that He always wants the best for you. He’s telling us that if we follow His ways, it’s best because it guarantees success. If you don’t, you’ll keep on pondering evil and be defeated by it. And by continuing to entertain fear thoughts, you reject God’s love and His best for you. If you believe what the enemy says, you lift his word above God’s Word. God wants you to know that those things you are worried about are the lie. But if you will seek His kingdom, His will, and His ways first, you’ll receive what He promised you.
Two essential steps to overcome stress
For every fear, there is a remedy found in the Word of God. When you lift that promise up over the temptation of the enemy, you will have blessings and victory. The number one, most important thing is to believe. Will you choose to believe God today?
The next most important thing is to persevere. It’s not one and done. It is a process to identify and work through each fear. As you keep on persevering, fear feelings will become less familiar and easier to identify. Through the process, you can have peace with yourself and your loving Heavenly Father, knowing that He will be faithful to complete His good work in you.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 KJV
As a recap, here are 7 simple steps to help you defeat fear and stress in your life:
1. Stop!: When you feel symptoms associated with fear, stop and ask yourself, “What have I been listening to that is causing me to go into fight or flight?”
For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful…and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 KJV
2. Acknowledge: this is not the time to go into denial. Maybe there really is a problem that needs to be dealt with. So you can say something like this, “Yes, that may be a big problem, but I can’t wait to see how God is going to handle this!” This attitude effectively puts your problem into God’s hands with anticipation that He will work with you to help you fix the problem. You may even develop an excitement to see what He will do.
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7 KJV
3. Observe: Write them down and take inventory of those thoughts. Ask God to show you the patterns that don’t line up with His truth.
…And bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 b KJV
4. Cast down: After you’ve recognized the enemy, renounce his ways of thinking, repent to God for believing them above His Word and remove them. (8Rs to Freedom)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God… 2 Corinthians 10:5 a KJV
5. Replace: Ask God to help you find scriptures that overturn the lies of the enemy in your life.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Luke 4:4 KJV
6. Believe!: believe the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth. Mark 9:23 KJV
7. Repeat : persevere, don’t give up, and don’t let the enemy accuse you or condemn you if you fall down again. The Proverbs 24:16 says: The just man falls seven times and rises up again. So keep on getting up, grab your Father’s hand and allow Him to help you recover yourself again.
The just man falls seven times and rises up again. Proverbs 24:16 KJV
Remember, the life of an overcomer is a journey, not a sprint race. Learn how to enjoy the journey, and when something comes up, bring it to your Father with the expectation that He will help you defeat it. Look forward to the good fruit that will spring forth from your life as you line your ways up more and more with His. That fruit will be the blessings of righteousness: healing, peace, restoration in relationships, and provision.
How a Prolonged State of Fight or Flight
Can Affect Your Body
As I mentioned earlier, if fear is allowed to influence your thoughts, feelings, and emotions unchecked, it may lead to breakdown in your body. Here are several areas that long-term fear can cause problems. This list is not exhaustive, but it may help you identify a root of fear in your life so that you may begin the process of recognizing it and defeating it with God’s help.
Fear can cause pain, tightness, or soreness in muscles, as well as spasms of pain. It can lead to flare-ups of symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions because fear lowers your pain threshold.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), when you experience fear, your muscles tense up. When fear goes away, your muscles release the tension.
And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people. Exodus 32:9 KJV
Believe it or not, fear can affect your heart. In stressful situations like trying to meet a deadline, your heart rate may increase. Your body will also release stress hormones like cortisol. If left unchecked, the continual dripping of cortisol will begin to cause damage in your body systems and may even worsen preexisting heart and lung conditions such as heart disease, heart rhythm abnormalities, high blood pressure, stroke, and asthma. Fear can also affect the function of your lungs and cause shortness of breath and rapid breathing.
New skin and hair products seem to dominate today’s ad space. However, those products won’t do much to help your skin and hair condition if you’re fearful. If you have a skin condition such as eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, fear can make it worse. It also can lead to hives and itchiness, excessive sweating, and even hair loss.
Have you ever had a stomachache from being so stressed out? The correlation is real because fear really shows in your digestive system — from simpler symptoms such as pain, gas, diarrhea, and constipation to more complex conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux (GERD).
The effects of fear in your body can move through the tension triangle, which includes your shoulders, head, and jaw.
Fear can trigger tension headaches, tightness in the neck and jaw, and knots and spasms in your neck and shoulders. It also may contribute to TMJ, a painful jaw disorder.
You need a strong immune system to fight disease, but fear weakens your body’s defenses. Fear makes you more likely to catch infections like colds or the flu. It will also cause your immune system to deviate and attack non-invaders like food or pollen, creating the symptoms of allergies. It may also worsen autoimmune conditions such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease.
Fear can bring on depression symptoms, cause struggles with low self-esteem, and reduce your enthusiasm for activities you usually enjoy — from everyday hobbies to sex. It can also cause fatigue and low energy when it gets to the resistance stage of adrenal fatigue.
Symptoms of stress may also include being easily agitated, frustrated, or moody, difficulty relaxing or quieting the mind, and avoidance. A person may also experience feelings of being overwhelmed or of losing control.
People may tend to eat poorly and exercise less when they participate with fear, making symptoms stronger.
Fear can also affect your sleep. Cortisol is essential for establishing your circadian sleep rhythm, but too much can disrupt melatonin’s natural production. This disturbance of your body’s natural hormone levels may cause restlessness and insomnia and contribute to sleep apnea.
The medical community may try to treat the symptoms. The real solution is to find and treat the cause of the problem – a spirit of fear.
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