How Stress Affects Your Faith (And Vice-Versa!)

Stress is a part of our lives. We deal with it in one way or another, but many of us could benefit from better stress-relieving techniques. Thankfully, if we look at it from a Catholic perspective, we might find better ways of coping and combatting the stressors that weigh us down.

We often view stress as a negative state, something to be avoided and remedied. But, as Fr. Matthew Spencer explained on Saint Joseph’s Workshop, stress can actually be helpful.

“Stress is such an important part of human existence that it helps us survive. If it wasn’t for stress, we wouldn’t run from danger. … If it wasn’t for stress we wouldn’t grow, wouldn’t mature, we wouldn’t be hardened and strengthened against the testings and trials of the world. So stress is a necessary part of human existence that God, in his wisdom, has allowed in our life,” said Fr. Matthew.

Stress pushes us to the limits and helps us to accomplish impossible goals. This is also true in our spiritual life. Stress can encourage us to lean on the Lord and hand over our burdens to him. Fr. Matthew said, “How many of us, in times of great trial and great danger in the spiritual life, in times of great need have found ourselves turning to the Lord fervently? With a committed heart, really realizing we need help and we need God to come and restore that peace in our life that we want to live with!”

On the other hand, stress can be a detriment to not only our physical and mental health, but our spiritual health as well. Even if your situation doesn’t appear to be as stressful as someone else, that stress can have a tremendous effect on you.

“It’s important to realize that God loves you, God is with you, and while you might experience stress it’s very important to work through that,” explained Fr. Matthew. He shared some spiritual resources and tools to combat stress.

  1. Pray. “When we’re stressed we don’t immediately think about prayer—our immediate concern is … resolving the stress. We forget that, well, part of the resolution has to be prayer.”
  2. Listen. Let your prayer be a conversation, not just talking to God, but also listening what he has to say.
  3. Perspective. “Help others carry their own crosses,” says Fr. Matthew. “Help others bear the stresses of their own life. … Look at those around us, look at their challenges and their sufferings and it puts ours into context.”
  4. Open up. Just as Jesus allowed Simon of Cyrene to help him carry the cross, we too must allow others to help us with our burdens. When we do so, they become lighter and easier to bear.

When you’re faced with stress in your life, use it to grow in faith. Lean on God and those around you to help you through, and remember to be a light to others who are carrying their own crosses.

Listen to the full segment:


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