Stressed? Read a Book

 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

My husband reminds people who are stressed that if they are doing what they should, their burden will be light. "My burden is light." The answer isn’t less work or less hours or a vacation; it is doing His Work. Christ’s burden is light. He even puts on His yoke—a tool for plowing and working, yet He gives rest. The work isn’t the stress. When the work becomes the stress, then evaluate the work.

What is His work for you?

The question lies not in how can I find more time in the day to do everything? But, what should I be doing? And what should I not be doing? His burden is light. Much of our stress is self-induced by trying to do things that He does not want us to do. What should you let go? The result: You will find rest for your souls.

Many times, it is not the work that causes the stress, but the emotional trauma that comes with the work. Accounts need to be kept, numbers need to be balanced, bills need to be paid, children disobey. Life happens.

 I have learned not to ask my boys, “Why did you do that?” They did it without thinking and have no idea ‘why’. When I ask, they give me that blank look that makes me wonder why I asked them. They have no idea. And now I am angry that I asked them and that they can’t answer. So for my sanity, I don’t ask ‘why’. A simple way of reducing emotional stress---My burden is light.

During those emotional trauma times, the part of the verse that says “Come unto Me” becomes significant. When I come to Him, I receive perspective, I focus, I have rest.

Why is this article titled “Stressed? Read a Book”?  Part of that “come unto Me” implies knowing His Word, reading it, learning it, living it. The easy part is the reading. The next step requires a conscious effort. The living it demands the Work of the Spirit. But then I have rest.

The University of Sussex in 2009 researched the benefits of reading on heart rate and muscle tension. They concluded that even six minutes of reading can be enough to reduce stress levels by 68%. Compare this to:

Listening to music: 61%
Drinking a cup of tea or coffee:54%
Taking a walk: 42%
Playing video games: brought heart rates down 21% from highest level, but left heart rate above starting point

Dr. Lewis, who conducted the test, said, “Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation…It is more than distraction but active engaging of imagination as words on printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.” (Article can be found here.)

Do we do that when we come to Christ’s Words? Do we enter to absorb the words? Or do we read with our mind somewhere else? Do we find rest in His words because His Spirit is allowed to flow through the words to calm our spirits and still our hearts so we can have rest?

Yes, reading reduces stress. But coming unto Him eliminates it. Does that mean we won’t have stress?  Are we perfect? But we know where to go when we are stressed, and He gives rest, not only for the body but for the soul.

Stressed? Read a Book.
Very Stressed? Read The Book with Christ's Words.

What do you read when stressed? What helps you most?

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Another great reminder. Oh yes, how I wish I had different skin (like our daughters Christi and Laura!), it just isn't fair! But you are right, God made me as I am and there is so much to be thankful for. (Had to see Joseph last week, again, and not thankful for the condition, but thankful to have him to see!)

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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