The American Stress Pool
Just when Americans come up for a healthier breath, they are plunged into a whole new pool of uncertainty. The stress level of the average American is understandably at an unprecedented level. A recent Harris Poll survey found that top sources of stress (not including the pandemic) in America reported by participants were:
• Rise in cost of everyday items (87%)
• Supply chain issues (81%)
• Global uncertainty (81%)[i]
This “stress pool” is affecting our mental health. First in the pool was and is Covid-19. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. We have just reached the 2nd anniversary. Covid stressors include illness, grief, job loss, social isolation, and a general feeling of isolation.[ii] Forbes reported “nearly six times as many employers report increased mental health issues among employees since the pandemic began.”[iii] Though the pandemic is beginning to release its grip, there is a permanent impression left in its wake.
Now add the layer of inflation at 7.9% in February to the stress-pool. Rising prices of gasoline and food are taxing an already burdened family budget. Estimation is that families will spend $3,000 more this year on food and gasoline than last year.[iv] Supply chain issues due to shortage of both goods and labor may or may not be temporary.
The war in Ukraine has helped drive prices up and our sense of security down. The youngest of our population has never faced a war of this dynamic with nuclear potential. Americans with friends and relatives in the areas affected are scrambling to keep them safe. The world is positioned on the starting blocks of war.
How do you begin to liberate yourselves from of the dredges of the stress pool? Christians are not immune to mental illness. They live in the world and suffer human limitations. Jesus felt the same human issues. Acknowledge that your mental health is as important as your physical health. It is not a sin to experience fear, anxiety, confusion, doubts, etc. Give yourself some grace and accept that you may need help to see your way through. Pray and meditate.[v] Matthew 11:28 implores us to “come to me, all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.
As you begin to lay your burdens at the cross and release the muck of the stress pool you can navigate your way to gratitude. It takes work and time. It is a journey of allowing Christ to handle the good and the bad. “I will lie down and sleep in peace” (Psalm 4:8) is a goal for so many that encounter the bulk of their mental stress during the quiet times of night when sleep eludes them. “Life can be challenging and complicated, and you are much too vulnerable in your human condition to escape the inevitable battles with stress.”[vi] Let God take up the battle with you.
Church, support those who are struggling, with counseling, encouragement and support groups in a non-judgmental setting. Live out the advice found in Galatians 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.
[i] https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2022/march-2022-survival-mode [ii] https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/covid-19-and-ptsd-assessing-the-pandemics-toll-on-mental-health/ [iii] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbooksauthors/2022/02/01/mental-health-in-a-post-pandemic-world/?sh=1def4ed83b7a [iv] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gas-prices-household-impact-2000-a-year/ [v] https://www.learnreligions.com/how-do-christians-deal-with-stress-700648#toc-2-give-yourself-a-break-and-get-help [vi]https://www.learnreligions.com/how-do-christians-deal-with-stress-700648#toc-2-give-yourself-a-break-and-get-help