What to do when life gets stressful

Life has a funny way of happening.

Sometimes it unfolds like a beautiful rose in the springtime. Other times life dumps everything on you at once.

It reminds me of the difference between a gentle rainstorm and a hurricane. You can handle the one while you are praying that the stress of the other doesn’t kill you.

The rain will come either way.

How we handle the storm is what separates us from falling flat on our face and walking in victory.

Sometimes life gets stressful. You are in situations that you have no idea how to handle. Here are some steps to overcome the stressful times in your life.

Right now you may be dealing with something that is worrying you. It could be a sickness in your family, it could be your finances, or it could be an issue at home. The possibilities seem endless.

When it rains it pours. Sometimes you get the feeling that a category 5 hurricane just blew through through your life. Life has a funny way of sucker punching you in the face.

For example, Someone I am close to will be in the hospital for the next 30 days. While they were in the hospital I received some sobering news. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear. I didn’t need to hear it. It was a tough pill to swallow. The news was tough enough that I did not sleep well that night.

Yet, life must go on. It doesn’t stand still because we go through something.

Life doesn’t wait for when we are ready to deal with it.

Life happens and it will keep happening.

Don’t get me wrong. Life happens in some unsavory ways. Yet, life also unfolds in some incredible ways as well.

For example, the birth of a child. What an incredible miracle. You could think about a marriage. Marriages and births are about newness and renewal. It is about beauty and connection.

There are some incredible things happening in the world around us.

Maybe, just maybe, there is a balance in life between trial and triumph.

That those who have the proper tools can change any trial to a triumph. This person could change their misery into their ministry. They could change their test into a testimony.

I think you get the point.

Our trials don’t define us.

It is how we handle them that defines us.

When we handle it correctly we can gain victory!

Even though there are infinite possibilities for trials and tribulations one thing remains constant.


Sometimes life gets stressful. You are in situations that you have no idea how to handle. Here are some steps to overcome the stressful times in your life.

Every situation produces an amount of stress. It is how we manage that stress that will determine how successful we will be at gaining victory over our trial.

I would love to tell you that everything works out for the best. In fact, I would love to tell you that you will sail through this life without incident.

You and I know that isn’t true.

We know that life will happen. People will hurt us. There will be times of suffering. There isn’t much we can do about it.

Or is there?

Let me share with you some practical principals that will help you conquer your current trial.


1. Don’t Overreact


I think the greatest problem that we have is that we react long before we respond.

In fact, many of us are caught in a cycle of reaction and never respond correctly to the situation.

To respond correctly we have to have a level head. We cannot overreact to the situation. To overreact puts us in a place of emotional chaos. The emotional chaos causes us to think unclearly. When we think unclearly we say all sorts of stupid things.

I remember a time when I had the opportunity to respond correctly.

It was after I finished speaking at my church. A gentleman walked up to me and initiated a conversation. He began to tell me everything that he thought was wrong with the message.

Initially, I was upset. I thought who is this guy? Why is he in front of me telling me everything that he thought was wrong? I didn’t understand his intentions. Dealing with insecurity at the time (this was several years back) I started to get offended. This guy who approaches me says he reads his bible every night but didn’t believe in going to school to learn about it.

I thought to myself, “Who does this guy think he is? I spend a lot of money and time going to Bible College. The average amount of time I spent on preparing a message was 10-15 hours. This guy is ridiculous.” I found myself getting all worked up.

I took a breath.

What I said,

“Sir, I appreciate your thoughts. I would appreciate it more if you would go back to the scriptures and study them in light of what you had just heard. As for now, we can agree to disagree.”

He looked at me dumbfounded. This told me he wasn’t looking to come to an agreement. He was looking for a debate. I didn’t give it to him. I smiled and walked off. You know what? I never saw him again.

On the other hand, I cannot say that I have always responded correctly.

If you are married you know that there are numerous opportunities to respond correctly. I remember a time when my wife and I were arguing. The argument wasn’t over anything important. Marital arguments rarely are over anything life changing. After a while of arguing I had enough. I said something stupid. It really hurt her. The entirety of the argument was me overreacting to something.

Had I taken a breath (or two) then I don’t think we would have argued.

Respond don’t react.

Overreaction only leads to hurt, pain. and poor choices.

2. Take in the WHOLE situation

If you follow step one then you can do step 2.

Take a moment to take the whole situation in. What I find is that when we overreact we are emotional to the point that we don’t see what is really going on. When we don’t have all the information we will make unwise decisions. The decisions we make are based on incomplete knowledge and understand of the situation. Thus, leading us to unwise decision-making.

So when life throws lemons at you take a moment and start asking questions. Why is this happening? Who is involved? What is my response? Is this my fault of the consequence of someone else’s decision? Can I change the situation? If I cannot change the current situation can I create a plan so that I have a good outcome? Which resources do I have available to me?

Your goal is to twofold. First, you need a good picture of everything that is happening. Secondly, you need a good picture of your available resources.

When I know the big picture I can set a plan into motion.

Asking questions is the BEST way to figure out what is going on and then decide what the next step you should take.

3. Create the NEXT STEP

You can breathe and access the situation, but you HAVE TO have a plan.

You don’t need the entire plan. Just an end goal and a next step.

Because if I know where I am going then I can continually take logical steps to get there. There is no other way around it. You have to take a step. If you don’t take a step then you will be continually stuck in the same place.

Don’t be paralyzed by the analysis.

There comes a point when you stop thinking so much and start acting on it.

Easy next steps can be as simple as making phone calls to the right people. It could be posting a message to your friends and followers on Social Media.

Step 1 and 2 are critical to step 3. Just don’t get stuck in step 2. At some point you MUST move into action or nothing will ever change.


As you know I am a man of faith. My relationship with Jesus has brought me through a lot of things. I cannot stress enough the power of prayer. There comes a time in your life when you have done everything you can do. At that moment you realize that God is your only solution.

You know how to save a lot of heartaches? You understand that God is our source. If we turn to him first we will see a difference in how we handle a situation. We are more at peace. There is a confidence in our decision-making process.

There is a power in prayer.

Lean on it.

There is no magic pill for our trials. Doing these things won’t magically end your trial or all trials. What it does is put you in a position to push through the trial and into victory.

My heart for you is to have the tool your need to gain VICTORY in your life!


#1. I love it when people share their thoughts.

I am eager to hear how you have navigated through the chaos in your life. Comment below and let me know what you would add to this list! Also, I am looking forward to some stories over how you overcame your issue! I look forward to engaging with you!

#2. Would you consider sharing these tweetables?

[bctt tweet=”Our trials don’t define us. It is how we handle our trials is what defines us. #timetohandleit ” username=”Jim_burgoon”]

[bctt tweet=”Overreaction only leads to hurt, pain, and poor choices. #respondcorrectly ” username=”Jim_burgoon”]

[bctt tweet=”When I know the big picture I can set a plan into motion. #bigpicture ” username=”Jim_burgoon”]

[bctt tweet=”Asking questions is the BEST way to figure out what is going on. #makeaplan. ” username=”jim_burgoon”]

[bctt tweet=”Don’t be paralyzed by the analysis. There comes a point when you stop thinking and start acting. ” username=”jim_burgoon”]

#3. Would you be willing to subscribe to www.jimburgoon.org for some great content??

[mailerlite_form form_id=4]

  • Dannii says:

    Just stopping and breathing is great advice. That’s why I love yoga, as it has really helped me with every day challenges.

    • Jim says:

      My wife has recently started yoga. It seems to be helping her stay relaxed. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Brook Clifton says:

    What an awesome post and I love to read more about t his and I agree with you just Pray. prayer is the strongest armor along with all the battles.

    • Jim says:

      True! I could not live life without my prayer life! Check out the rest of the website. There are a number of things you can read! Thank you for taking the time to join the conversation.

  • Louise Smith says:

    I don’t think I’ve handled the stress I’m under at the moment very well at all. I’ve just stopped talking to people in my family because they just keep looking at me all sympathetically, but don’t want to help. Which is such a shame as I’ve always helped them when life has thrown them a curve ball 🙁

    Louise x

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for being so honest. It is very refreshing! Now that you know that you haven’t handled stress well what are you going to do next? Are you going to continue in what you know or try to forge a new direction? Let me know how I can help you through this!

  • Catherine says:

    These are all great tips! My favorite is to just remind myself that things are temporary. Things could change within the hour at the snap of my fingers. That definitely helps me get through the rough spots!

  • kristin says:

    This is so helpful. I really like #2 because you forget to take a step back and really ask yourself questions about the situation when emotions are so involved.

    • Jim says:

      Yes! I love how you latched onto that. It is one of the keys to walking through each situation with victory! Let me know how I can serve you. I appreciate you joining the conversation.

  • Such great advice! Need to save this for later! I know all too often when I get overwhelmed I just freeze. But this is a great, step-by-step game plan I can refer back to when I don’t know what to do! Thanks!

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for your kind words! I think the reason we freeze is because we haven’t thought about what we would do in the situation. It is also because we haven’t reflected on the last time it happened. Why did you freeze? What was the cause? What would be different if you had to do it again? Start taking a look at the whys behind the whats and I think you will find yourself more assertive! I pray these tips help you for the years to come. Let me know how I can be of service.

  • Lynn Woods says:

    These are great tips and a definite to #4. While we need to take action, we can’t control everything. It’s your next steps that truly make the difference.

    • Jim says:

      They really do! What people don’t realize is that you WILL take a next step. The question is which one? When we learn to heal our hurts we find ourselves remaining calm in the face of stress. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Nita says:

    Great post and thanks for the tips. It’s important to not focus on the detail and step back and take in the bigger picture.

  • Liz says:

    This was a great read. I usually always overreact first and calm down. I think I just need to take a minute and try to calm down, before I get way too stressed! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jim says:

      If it were me, and it used to be, I would ask a question. Why do I react like I do when I am faced with stress? How you answer that question will help you figure out what is going on in you. When you know that you can find healing. As you heal you will notice that you don’t overreact as you once did. I hope that helps! Let me know how I can serve you!

  • Lila says:

    Great post! Such a serious topic, but still delivered with humor. I really enjoyed it, and I’m definitely saving it for when the storms hit. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jim says:

      I pray in the years to come it helps you and guides you through your most stressful times. I hope you get a chance to check out some other article! Thank you for sharing.

  • Tara says:

    It is all about coping! Life is going to happen no matter what we do, learning how to cope is key! Great post!

    • Jim says:

      Yes! I agree with your statement! The greater amount of tools we have the better we can handle life. Thank you for sharing.

  • Womenlite says:

    I liked the article until the point where you stated to ‘Pray,’ after that, I started loving this article! Our faith is our strongest weapon to fight with anything life! Faith in God, faith in ourselves… nothing is bigger than our faith and will. Life is all about ups and downs, it’s never easy for anyone.

    • Jim says:

      You are so right, life is not easy. Our prayer life must be strongly developed if we are hoping to have a long and healthy life. Thank you for sharing and for your kind words.

  • Tiara Wilson says:

    These are some amazing tips. I often find myself getting way too stressed about the smaller and simpler things in life.

    • Jim says:

      That is when practicing what I shared has to be paramount in your life. If we can put the tips into practice on the small things over time it will help you through the big events in life. Let me know if I can help you in any way!

  • Reginald says:

    Yes Life doesn’t wait for when we are ready to deal with it.
    Life happens and it will keep happening, and that is why we need to take good care of ourselves irrespective of the nature of stress. Thanks for sharing

    • Jim says:

      We are so on the same page here. Constant personal care is the key to a long healthy life. Thank you for joining the conversation!

  • Stress is such a killer. These are great tips to get through stressful times

    • Jim says:

      Yes ma’am! We are in such agreement about stress! Thank you for your kind words I hope the tips help.

  • Drama says:

    It’s so important to take care of yourself. Sometimes it’s hard.

    • Jim says:

      I 100% agree with you. It is incredibly important to take care of ourselves. It is also very hard to do that. With time, patience, and practice we can build it into our lives. Like any habit, it must be cultivated and developed. My site is designed to help people take care of themselves. I pray the tools I put out help you! Thank you for joining the conversation.

  • Dinesh says:

    Oh yes, we all go through a lot.. Stress is a by product and we need to deal with it. Nice thoughts in this regard..

  • jhilmil says:

    Not to overreact is the most important in stressful situations… We need to have patience, watch & then target the next step… Good post!

  • Chloe says:

    Hi, great tips taking in the whole situation and taking a step back to plan ahead is key for me.

  • angie says:

    love seeing that my favorite remedy is in the list. I stay in constant prayer While I know that I can not take care of all my stress alone I know that He can

  • Rachel says:

    I love this post. It’s actually stress-reducing just reading it. It’s so important to just take a step back and breathe when you feel like a situation is getting too much. Taking these steps one at a time is such a good way to feel calmer. It’s true that overreacting is so easily done, and so difficult to undo. Great post, thank you 🙂

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for taking the time to join the conversation! I appreciate it very much. I am so blessed to hear that it has helped you. I hope you get the chance to check out future articles. 😀

  • Gayathri says:

    Respond, not react

    Such profound words. I should try and remember this the next time I need it.

    Thanks for all the suggestions that are workable and practical.

    • Jim says:

      If they are not workable and practical then they are not relevant. I truly believe that. There are so many sites out there that depict the “theory” of things, but I want to provide people with the hard fact that come straight from the trenches. Meaning, I have lived this stuff and it works! My heart is to help people create victories in their lives. Thank you so much for joining the conversation.

  • Gayathri says:

    Respond, not react.
    Such profound words. I should remember it the next time I need it.

    Thanks for the suggestions that are workable and practical.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for your kind words! I have made it my life’s mission to give people practical applications and not just theory. Everything I write about I have personally experienced, tried, or have someone very close to me that has. 🙂 I want people to have victory in their life!

  • Charlsye says:

    Great article!

    One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned recently is thst I have the power to choose how I respond to an event. I ask myself “What kind of outcome do I want?” Then I choose a response to match it.

    Also, dwelling on the situation never helps. Gotta get moving and keeping occupied so I can think of other things.

    • Jim says:

      What a great tactic! Thank you for sharing your personal experience with this! I am sure it will help the people who frequent this blog.

  • Cassie says:

    The part about not overreacting: I was just reading some tidbits of advice from a retiring leader of my organization. He talked about adjusting the temperature. What he means by this is sometimes someone will come to you with a problem and they will either be overreacting or not recognizing the seriousness of the issue. It’s his job as a leader to adjust the temperature (either cool it or heat it up). I like this metaphor for thinking about the way I react to stressors in my own life. It’s a good reflective question: do I adjust the temperature appropriately?

    • Jim says:

      There was a leadership principal that was popularized by Tim Elmore. It is the Thermometer vs. Thermostat principal. I thermometer reflects the current temperature while a thermostat changes the current temperature. He encouraged us to be thermostats. Be people who always change the temperature in instead of just reflecting it. Your question is an excellent reflection question! Thank you for sharing.

  • John says:

    A very good post. Very uplifting tips. Everyone can apply them in any situation. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nikki says:

    Putting these principles into practice could save a lot of people from living in a state of stress. Having a plan has been the most helpful for me. Sometimes when I’m in a bad spot, the thing that makes me feel secure is when I’ve settled on a plan for moving forward.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for sharing! I agree, when I am feeling lost and stressed I have to take a step back. When I do that I can see the big picture. I can make a plan from there!

  • There is definitely a fine line between triumph and strife or struggle. It’s important not to let the bad times get you down and to keep hope alive.

  • A very helpful post. Thank you! I especially liked (wrong word!) the point to wait for the whole picture before reacting. I usually react first and then have to say sorry!

    • Jim says:

      I can relate. I have had to say sorry very often. Most times, if we would just take that pause we would have a different response. Thank you for sharing!

  • Julie says:

    Great suggestions! Sometimes I forget to get the whole picture and responding versus reacting is key!

    • Jim says:

      It is sooooooooo much the key! When I can see the big picture I can determine my next step. We react to small situations and wonder how we can move forward. Thank you for sharing.

  • Hannah says:

    I came across this post at the perfect time. I have been really stressed out lately with work and my social life, and I have been guilty of overreacting a lot. After reading this, I already feel better. Great post and thank you for the wise words!

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for your kind words! Your response is the reason I write. To share practical tools to help people be victorious in their current situations. It blesses me to hear that these helped you! I will pray for you. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help 🙂

  • Brandy says:

    These are some great tips on how to cope when life gets stressful. Things happen, life can get overwhelming for sure. These tips will surely help, I know watching something funny usually helps me!

    • Jim says:

      I am blessed to hear that these tips were helpful! I pray that they may help you during the stressful times!

  • Aida Ingram says:

    First this article is amazing. I love all of the tips that you have here, I especially appreciate that you add praying to the list. Great list and great tips.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for your kind words! I pray it helps. Also, you may want to check out other articles that I have written. They may provide insite and help into a number of situations!

  • Catvills says:

    This is such an inspiring post. When I was younger, I was guilty of blowing my top when life got too stressful. Now I am older (and hopefully wiser), I stop, breathe, think and look at the problem from a different perspective. If I cannot find a solution on my own, I pray. Really pray. I say, “Lord, I know you are teaching me a lesson. Please take my hand and guide me that I may see the good in this desperate time.”

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for sharing your success story! I love hearing how people have overcome their situations. It is inspiring to hear! Thank you for sharing.

  • Great advice. I would also suggest that we allow ourselves to feel the emotion, whether that be anger or sadness or grief. We are human, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for being angry or sad, but as you mentioned, it’s what we do after that that counts.

    • Jim says:

      What a great addition! You are so right, we have to allow ourselves to feel the emotion. Ignoring it only causes greater problems. Thank you for sharing that!

  • Stress is a fact of life. Taking time to relax and have some moments to yourself is important for dealing with stress.

    • Jim says:

      So true! It is a fact of life. How we deal with it makes all the difference. Thank you for joining the conversation.

  • Katy says:

    Thank you for posting this! Stress is hard to deal with, and prayer is always an important part of overcoming it.

  • Carlee C says:

    I have had various situations occur in my life in recent years that have been quite stressful and finding the energy to do anything at times has been quite difficult. Recently I joined a gym and started working out with a friend, and having that daily routine has been a way for me to build up energy through exercise as well as through conversation.

    • Jim says:

      Working out is incredible! I recently joined a gym as well. I work out a few times a week. It is definitely a great way to relieve stress! Thank you for sharing.

  • Robyn Ellis says:

    Stop and breathe.. beautiful advice.
    Humans, we are way too reactive for our own good aren’t we.
    Such a quality to gain control of and like you suggest, the discipline of having a plan with the end goal in mind helps with this 🙂

  • Stress seems to be getting built up for more people today than ever before. Your approach to dealing with it in a positive and productive way is logical. Even for people of limited or no faith, following the preceding steps as you have outlined would seem to me to be great strategies for getting on top of stressful situations.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for your encouraging words! I have a great number of readers who don’t agree with the faith aspect of my blog. However, the way I write I believe (as you mentioned) many people can gain insight. As an old friend of mine once said, “In life, you have to learn to eat the meat and spit out the bones!” I think that applies to everything we do. I hope these tips help! Thank you for joining the conversation.

  • Kim E Miller says:

    The pastor I listen to said one time not to worry or fret or stress over things, just to pray and give them to God. I have been really working hard at doing just that when things get so stressful I don’t think I can handle them. It helps so much.
    Taking a deep breath helps too..

    • Jim says:

      I have found that we have to do multiple things. Giving it over to God is the most important thing, but realize you may have to give that thing over a dozen times. When you give it over to God learn to take a breath. Center yourself on His promise. Then begin to walk forward. Thank you for sharing!

  • Awesome post!

    You are absolutely right we find ourselves in reaction. Happened to me last week, and when I took a deep breath, and then said a prayer “Jesus I trust in you and I give you this problem to help me find a solution.”

    And the situation turned out better because I took time to stop, breathe, and pray.

    Dr. Lisa

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