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The 4 P’s Of Stress Management – Jackie Joens
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The 4 P’s Of Stress Management

Sometimes our emotions feel like a powerful force within us…like a tsunami of emotions that blow over us, engulfing us in what feels like uncontrollable power.  I believe that our emotions are a way that God communicates with us.  But, because of our past experiences in life we may interpret our emotions in an inaccurate way.  In other words, our life experiences get in the way of what God is trying to tell us with our emotions.

All of God’s creatures have been gifted with a wonderful gift in a survival instinct called, The Fight or Flight Instinct.  (Some people add “freeze” to this instinct.) This has been a wonderful instinct used to keep different species alive since the beginning of time whenever there is a life-threatening situation.  We humans, however, are the only one of His creatures where this instinct kicks in when we feel threatened emotionally.

If you begin to understand your emotions and follow God’s advice of experiencing your emotions without letting your behaviors turn to sin, then you can begin to interpret your emotional experiences in a more healthy way.  If you can identify the emotion and process through what you are feeling then you can CHOOSE an action to that emotion rather than having a REACTION to what you are feeling.

To do this…I have come up with The 4 P’s plan of action to help deal with emotions….

  • Pace – Often your emotions are bound up in a lot of adrenaline and energy. You need to burn this off and re-engage the language center in the brain (which shuts down with stress/anxiety).  So Pace – burn off some of that energy and use that adrenaline.  While you are doing this, breathe deeply and slowly into your diaphragm.  It is physically impossible for you to “flee” or “fight” if you are breathing slowly.  Then you are actually tricking your brain to relax and it  re-engages  your language center.
  • Pray – Now that you have re-engaged your language center by disengaging the part of your brain in charge of Fight or Flight, you can use your words/language to pray. You now have the ability to speak and listen with words and ask for God’s guidance and direction in what you are to supposed to learn from the emotions that you are feeling.
  • Process – After prayer, you can now begin to process what you are feeling. What emotions are you experiencing?  Do your feelings have to do with current situations or is there an element to your past that is clouding your ability to understand these feelings in the present?  What do you think you may be trying to protect yourself from in this situation?  In which ways do you feel God nudging you to choose an action instead of reacting?
  • Proceed – When you feel that you have a clearer picture of what your feelings are and what they are trying to tell you, you are now in a position to proceed. You need to choose an ACTION not have a REACTION to your feelings.  What will you choose to do as a result of the feelings that you are experiencing in this situation?   (You may make a decision on an action within a few minutes, a few hours, a few days or it may take longer.   Give yourself the time needed to make a choice.

The 4 P’s will help you learn to manage difficult or stressful feelings.  If you are having difficulty in figuring out what your feelings are trying to tell you, then you may want to seek out some good counsel from a professional.  Their objective position may provide a clearer perspective that will help you choose an action rather than reacting to your feelings.


So…how do you handle your difficult feelings?

  1. Which feelings do you turn loose? What are your triggers?  What are you afraid of?
  2. What feelings do you deny or stuff away? Why aren’t they important?  Why aren’t they worthy of your time and attention?  When you deny your feelings do you ever experience a time in the future when they seem to bubble up and out from nowhere and spill out on the people around you?
  3. Or do you… bring your emotions to God? Do you talk to God about what you are feeling?  Do you ask him what to do with these feelings?  Are you honest with him AND yourself?


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