How Focus Dispels Stress



I was thrilled to spend much of last week with my daughter Kelsey. She teaches fourth grade and it was her spring break. We accomplished everything on her to-do list—most of it in preparation for her baby’s birth in August. A couple of times during our time together she made the comment, “I gave myself a little pep talk about . . .” or “This morning I told myself . . .”

I was inspired by her comments. I started thinking what do I need to give myself a pep talk about? What am I letting get me down? I realized that most of the stress I feel is because I let negative thoughts run amuck in my mind. I don’t “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). How often do I let the enemy barrage me with lies of doubt and shame and fear? Of course, these lies eat away at my confidence in who God made me to be and what He’s given me to do. They cause me to hold back in the fullness of fully being me and doing with abandon all He’s planned for me to do.

I hate the thought that I might be missing out on all of God’s best for me because I’m letting my thoughts run amuck and stress me.

The more I thought about Kelsey’s comment, “I gave myself a little pep talk this morning”, the more it resonated in me. Yes! The perfect way to set straight the stress in my mind is to give myself a little pep talk with God’s truth—every morning and throughout the day. These pep talks will keep me focused on truth with no room for stress.

Jesus talked about this in Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life . . .Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” [emphasis mine] Each day does have enough of its own issues and stress. Worry only makes it worse. In that same passage Jesus makes the point, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Not only do worry and stress make our situations worse, they don’t accomplish anything.

Now each morning as I pray and think through my day, I think about what situations or issues may trip me up and cause me to stress. I don’t have to think long. I have several full and exciting months ahead of me. I’ve dubbed 2015 “My Year of Two Weddings and a Baby.” Katie is getting married on August 16 and Kerry getting married on January 3, 2016, and of course, Kelsey’s baby is due in August.

Then “I give myself a little pep talk.” What is the truth I need for each of possible stress or situation in my day? For example, this morning as I opened my email I started to feel stressed over all I had to do and respond to. Then I thought of the truth.

  • I will always have issues and stuff to deal with. It’s life.
  • Don’t let that get in the way of enjoying life and resting in God and enjoying His peace and joy.
  • Stress won’t get it done faster or better. (Actually the opposite.)
  • God is on the other side of it already. He has it covered and finished. I just need to cooperate with His guidance and rely on His strength.

I felt the stress ebb away immediately.

Next, I decided what is the most important thing I have to do today? Writing this blog. It needs my clarity of thought and it needs to be posted. So here I am writing. I am not thinking about the rest of today’s to-do list. I am present and in the moment writing to you.

Later today I have a couple of difficult phone calls to make. My pep talk to myself here is:

  • The calls must be made.
  • I will speak the truth with love and grace. I will communicate in the way I would want to be communicated with.
  • I cannot predict how the other person will respond.
  • It is their choice how they will respond. Their response is not my responsibility.
  • God’s sovereignty, love, and adequacy will work in ways I can’t imagine.


By focusing on these truths, I move through my day with God’s direction and strength. I feel strong and effective, not crippled and weighted down by stress.

What do you need to give yourself a little pep talk about today? What truth do you need to remind yourself about? A great place to start is my March 31, 2015, blog where I discuss the five characteristics about God that we need to rest in. ( Remember that God’s love, sovereignty, adequacy, faithfulness, and forgiveness have you covered in every situation in your life and your loved ones’ lives.

I’d love to hear your pep talk to yourself.

Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.

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