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Stress to Joy

Stress: Friend or Foe? Unraveling the Truth

September 14, 20233 min read

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - Viktor Frankl

Stress: Friend or Foe?


Hi Friends, let’s talk about how stress influences our biochemistry…. more specifically our perception of stress.

I have always questioned the suggestion of "reduce your stress." What if I can’t control my circumstance, but life must go on? How do I “reduce” my life?

Viktor Frankl, neurologist, psychologist, and Holocaust survivor says in his seminal work, Man’s Search for Meaning:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Personally, surrendering the belief that I have control has been a long, long, I mean loooong process of disentanglement. And, if I am being completely honest, as soon as I think I have kicked it in one area of my life, it shows up in another.

Years ago, I ran into a definition of suffering that is forever burned in my brain by Franciscan priest Richard Rohr who says "suffering is whenever we are not in control."


We were not designed to control our life experiences. Proverbs 16:9 tells us we can plan, but God chooses the steps.

What if the real “stress” we experience is the suffering we endure by attempting to control the uncontrol-able?

That is a doozie of a question and too much to unpack here in this small amount of space, but I do want to highlight some interesting research that speaks to why this is important to you physically, biochemically and healthfully.

Back in 2012, a group of researchers followed 30,000 adults for years, tracked how much stress they experienced, what they believed about stress (whether it was harmful or helpful to their health) as well as their mortality. (Health Psychol 2012 Sep;31(5):677-84. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22201278/)

Basically, the researchers discovered that what we believe about stress is more important than avoiding stress itself.

Those participants who considered our natural response to meet life’s challenges as helpful (such as an elevated heart rate as heathy energy for action verses a sign of danger or threat) were less anxious and more confident, and…gulp… had a 43% decrease chance of dying prematurely compared to those who viewed stress as harmful.

How, you ask?

The way you think about stress, how you perceive it to be either helpful or harmful, literally changes your body’s physiological response to it.

While your heart rate may rise, when your perception is one of being empowered to meet that challenge well, your body chemistry is more like what happens in moments of joy and courage. On the other hand, perceiving what is happening as harmful leads to more inflammation and vascular constriction.

Moreover, as Believers, when we practice living into God’s perspective of our problems, they become possibilities of growth and expansion into His fullness!

Thank you God that you are all about overcoming!

This is at the core of why With-God Wellness exists. Nourishing and calming our whole being through breath + movement, mindful Christ-centered meditations, and contemplative practices helps us to be better able to connect with God, ourselves, and others.

With the practice of shifting your perspective, while your situation may not change, you do!

I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mathew 11:29-30 The Message

Want to experience this first-hand? Try out one of our Restorative classes focused on Unforced Rhythms.

Praying for your journey to thriving in Christ!

Jen Allbritton
E-RYT 500
B.S. in Kinesiology
Co-Founder of
With-God Wellness

Yoga Teacher

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