Arch_hartDr. 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!

2 thoughts on “Adrenaline and Stress [Book Review]

  1. It seems to me that the only reason there is even a debate about the underlying thesis here is that if anybody ever tried to advance it in a substantial forum their voice would be drowned by the chorus of boomer going “La la la, can’t hear you…”

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