According to the American Institute of Stress, “sixty-five percent of workers said that workplace stress had caused difficulties and more than 10 percent described these as having major effects.”
According to the American Institute of Stress, “twenty-five percent of workers view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.”
For more stats on workplace stress, click on this link: https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress
Upon prayer requests, it was an eye opener when God exposed one of the root causes of my anxiety was work. Moreover, every time I would enter a particular work site (I have multiple), my body would go on a stress alert, and one time I had an anxiety attack right inside of the classroom (thank God I was alone at the time). My anxiety levels at work/from work have decreased since that awareness and although I still have struggles, I handle the anxiety and stress much better. Life is a process and so is overcoming stress and anxiety. I found through research one way to handle anxiety was to just embrace it. Don’t fight it. Let it take its course while of course stopping what you’re doing, like driving if you are. This helped because fighting the anxiety was made my heart pound even more and the walls of my lungs close in tighter. The fighting didn’t help. The releasing control and allowing myself to feel physically and emotionally helped ease the symptoms and restore me back to calm. I also learned to take deep gut breaths. My anxiety often gave me more stomach issues to the point of having to run to the bathroom. I call it anxiety poop now. The breathing helped greatly to get my breathing and stomach under control. I have also watched funny videos and listened to worship music to change my mental channels. There are other ways to manage stress and anxiety but let’s talk about one way that should be supreme. That is to guard your heart.
Work-related stress can get so bad it can result in sickness, mental instability, the inability to be present, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, low morale, poor productivity levels, and even death. I have been a part of numerous work conversations or chatter that lead to one or more of us expressing the effects of stress at work personally and as a whole.
Sometimes stress can be in the everyday routine and demand, or from workplace bullying, or betrayal, gossipping, and backstabbing, unprofessionalism, outside personal issues affecting inside work issues, or from coworkers who are aware or unaware of the unruly pressures they put upon the team due to the pressure put upon them. And nonetheless, these issues may be all spiritual for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
Since we spend much of our day at work, how do we live our lives where stress no longer controls them or seeps into our hearts and cause emotional infections?
We, as believers, are taught to guard our hearts. Above all else, guard thy heart; for out of it flows the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). But do we keep our hearts guarded even at work? I am not talking about putting up a 10-foot wall and threatening all the coworkers you dislike from trying to climb it guard.
Our spiritual heart is composed of our thoughts, will, emotions, and desires. We are to protect it and allow God to transform it. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2). Guarding our hearts is a battle for we sometimes forget much of the war takes place there. And if the enemy can can throw grenades there, he can get you off course with what God believes about you and wants for you.
So, let’s begin to purposely and actively guard our hearts, even at work. Work is not just to earn a paycheck but it is like a second home for many, and it is definitely our mission fields. There are people on our job hurting and need to receive God’s love and presence to envelop them. Walking in consistent stress and anxiety can stifle you from walking in the love and presence of God to impact others. Your mind is clouded; your heart can grow weary. Edited: There are beautiful things that can take place at work. For example: today, I had a moment of break down when I arrived at work and was embraced and comforted. I was embarrassed but little did I know that I wouldn’t be the only one who needed comfort. After our movie and discussion session with the young ladies for Women’s History Month, some of the students expressed their hearts but it was the female staff who poured out their hearts, and I witnessed such love and support surface. Guarding your heart also means allowing vulnerability to surface in your heart to receive the genuine love and care you need. When your heart has grown numb and cold, nothing grows there. I thank my school today for being a safe place for us to share and receive the love necessary. That school knows who they are.
Guarding your heart at work takes four things:
1. Taking every thought captive. Catch those thoughts, check those thoughts, and change those thoughts that do not line up with God’s Word about you, others, or your circumstances. “I am not good enough.” “Things will never change.” “My coworker hates me.” Maybe she does or maybe she is coming down hard on you because when she was little they told her she will never be anything so now she demeans everyone to lift herself up. You don’t excuse the behavior at all but seeing them the way God does can ensure you won’t hold a grudge, seek revenge, or internalize their low self-worth and make it yours. You will be able to address them professionally and with love and understanding. Even avoid thoughts, gossips, and opinions from others at work that are causing division, stress, and just plain ungodliness and unprofessionalism. I have not always done this. But sometimes you have to change the subject and give those things no attention.
2. Change your perspective. Seeing things, others, and yourself the way God does. This takes prayer, even fasting, and saturating in the Word of God. I remember upon getting evaluated at work last year by my bosses and one saying they noticed I wasn’t as stressed or sick like I used to be. I told them I still got sick and stressed sometimes but what changed is the fact that I had to change my perspective. I had to see things differently and not take every thing personal. Seeing things from a different perspective, from God’s perspective, helps us to maintain our joy and our witness before others even during rough times.
3. Take a day off to renew. Every now and then you need a day of rest to reset. Some times I had to take off because I was sick and needed rest. I not only rested but I took that time to spend quality time with God. That refreshed me, having unrushed, quality time with the one who created me, loves me unfailingly, is the Source to my resources, and sacrificed greatly for me. I also would find myself able to catch up with something I normally wouldn’t be able to. I also found that rest was needed to be truly productive. I can think straight and function well.
4. Lastly the Word of God is alive and active and it is our sword. Saturate in it, read it and study it, use it as your weapon against the enemy’s lies and threats, and submit it to the Father in prayer. His Word cannot return to Him void.
Be encouraged!!! What other ways can you guard your heart? Are you a source of comfort and truth for others at work? How do you navigate work-life balance?