Dr. Arch Hart, co-founder of the Hart Institute, has written a very good book on Adrenaline and Stress that is worth reading. Dr. Hart is well known for his ministry to churches through psychological training, education, and consultation. A former dean of the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, he is now retired from full time teaching. Dr. Hart has published 24 books.
A few years back, I had the privilege of taking a two-week intensive course on The Minister’s Personal Health (as part of my Doctor of Ministry program through Fuller Theological Seminary) with Dr. Hart and I learned so much from this wise man, especially in the area of healthy life and ministry habits.
Here are a few insights from this book:
Concerning life in general …
- We must conquer ‘time urgency’ and ‘hurry sickness’. A sense of time urgency produces hurry sickness, which involves an internal state of emergency.
- Constant ‘stretching’ damages us (like a rubber band).
- We need time for rest and relaxation, contemplation and meditation.
- Life should be hills and valleys, highs and lows, pressure and relaxation. Balance is the key.
- Learn to slow down. Plan ahead and avoid rushing. Learn to laugh more.
- Learn to live with ‘unfinished business’ and be content.
- Jesus’ life was a model of unhurriedness and balanced priorities.
Concerning stress …
- Even positive things can cause stress.
- Stress can come from real or imagined events or activities.
- Stress can be from within or without.
- The stress that kills is not the stress of crisis. It is the stress of challenge, high-energy output, and over-commitment.
- Exciting stress takes its toll as much as fears and threats.
- Prolonged stress wears down our system.
- Stress begins in the mind but ends up in the body.
- Learn to read your own stress symptoms.
- Our body has alarm, activation, and recovery systems. Co-operate with them.
- Our ‘need’ for people can create stress, especially if we are a ‘people-pleaser’.
- Be yourself. Be assertive. Good people skills minimise stress.
- Genuine love and forgiveness helps reduce our people-related stress. Love is not a ‘feeling’ or the same as ‘liking’. It is a set of behaviours.
- A relaxed body leads to a relaxed mind.
- Stress reduces creativity.
- Relaxation reduces stress. Relax hourly, daily and weekly. Force yourself into inactivity. Be quiet, get comfortable, relax your muscles, and focus your attention.
Concerning adrenaline …
- Heart disease is the #1 killer today. The pace of life and stress contribute to heart disease. A constant state of emergency creates much wear and tear on our heart.
- Excessive adrenaline arousal is like living in high gear or constant emergency. It is like revving an engine in high speed continually.
- Adrenaline can be addictive.
- Be aware of things you may be addicted to that give you pleasure and a sense of escape.
- Ensure that you have adequate ‘recovery time’ after times of high excitement.
- Learn to function with less adrenaline.
- Relax before high demand activities. Don’t psyche yourself up. Don’t try so hard.
- After periods of high demand, move back to a non-emergency mode as quickly as possible. Force yourself to slow down.
Concerning sleep …
- We need all the sleep we can get. Too much is not a problem.
- Keep your ‘sleep bank’ account balance high. Make extra deposits if necessary.
- There’s a price to pay for the ‘efficiency’ of less sleep.
- Take time to ‘turn down’ before going to sleep at night.
There’s lots of food for thought there!