Stress-Reducing Belief #1: Faith
Hi there, Pam Coburn-Litvak here. If you are facing severe stress and have been dealing with symptoms of anxiety and depression as a result, I’m so glad you’re taking this e-course.
Developing stress-absorbing beliefs is one of the best things we can do to minimize and manage the stress in our lives. The beliefs I’m going to share with you are recognized by stress researchers and health professionals as the best of the best, because they can increase our resilience to stress.
Psychiatrist Kathryn Connor from Duke University writes, “Resilient individuals [are] characterized by their personal competence and determination, the supportive relationships they [form], and their reliance on faith and prayer.”1
So, the most powerful stress-reducing beliefs will fuse these 3 components: a healthy viewpoint, strong relationships; and spiritual faith.
I’m basing this e-course on 20 years of experience studying and teaching the effects of stress on mental health. Together, you and I will cover five of the most powerful, stress-reducing beliefs I know of. Think of each like the cliff that absorbs the pounding of a turbulent surf.
Here’s the first one: I accept God as my spiritual Parent who loves me. This love will be the basis for the value I place on myself and others and will be the release point for all my fears, anxieties and worries.
What would life be like if we filtered everything that happened to us through this one belief?
How do we commonly see our own value? Here are some common bases we use to build our self-esteem:
1. How others see us.
2. What we have (wealth, talent, looks, education).
3. What we’ve done (successes and failures).
The problem with these foundations for self-esteem is that they’re changeable. They shift around constantly, creating rapid and wide swings between high and low self-esteem. One day you're successful and feel great about yourself; the next you fail and feel worthless.
There's only one objective, unchanging foundation for personal value.
It’s the value God placed on us through the Gift He gave us. The Bible says we are a treasure of infinite value to God. How do we know this? Because He paid an infinitely high price for us.
Nothing can alter your value in God's heart—nothing. Not personal failure, not rejection from others, not financial failure and poverty, not lack of education, nothing.
When you realize how much God values you, it can take the worry out of life. Listen to this: "Do not worry… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?... Seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." 2
The bible says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 3 That’s good news, isn’t it? God has invited us to give Him all our worries.
Philip Yancey records the following prayer. If you can relate, feel free to pray it as well:
“My God, I wish to give you the gift you so much desire; I wish to commit myself to you once and for all, so that there shall be no taking back…though I cannot keep myself there, your fingers can hold me there… your strong, gentle fingers always giving way and never letting go; your wise subtle fingers, wrestling so gently against my puny rebellions, that I tire myself trying to climb out of your hands, and come to rest at last in those wounded palms.” 4
1. Connor, KM (2006) Assessment of Resilience in the Aftermath of Trauma. J Clin Psychiatry 67 (suppl2):46-49
2. Matthew 6:25-33
3. 1 Peter 5:7
4. Yancey, P. (2016). Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? Zondervan. p.210.
Eternal Hope by Kevin MacLeod
Images by the following Unsplash/Pixabay artists: Zohre Nemati, Albert Dera, Kat Love, Malgorzata Tomczak, Kirill Balobanov, Malik McCotter Jordan, Callie Morgan, Edu Lauton, Aline de Nadai, Mortiz320, Bill Oxford, Dallas Reedy, Ekrem Osmanoglu, Patrik Carlberg, Robert Lederer, Nick Chung, Layers, Elijah Hiett, Joshua Adamski, Joshua Earle
Dr. Pamela Coburn-Litvak has published research articles on exercise and stress in Neuroscience and Neurobiology of Learning and Behavior. Her latest book, Leaving the Shadowland of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, was published in 2020.
After receiving a Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Behavior from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she served as both Assistant Professor of Physiology & Pharmacology and Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research Affairs at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California. She then joined the Biology department at Andrews University and developed courses in human physiology as well as the neurobiology of mental illness. She also founded Rock @ Science LLC, a company that specializes in health and science education and web development. She co-developed the brain and body physiology segment of the Stress: Beyond Coping seminar with its creator, Dr. William “Skip” MacCarty, DMin.
Dr. Coburn-Litvak currently lives in California with her husband. Their two daughters are mostly grown and attending school elsewhere.
When she’s not studying or teaching about stress, she enjoys stress-relieving activities like puttering around the garden, taking nature walks with her family, knitting, cooking, and reading.