how to handle stress and pressure

3 Things That Cause Tension and How to Handle It

Throughout my twenties, I was single. All my concerns were wrapped up in myself and what I needed to do. I had a lot of free time, and I often slept until noon on Saturdays. I lived next door to a man who’s had more impact on me than anyone, outside my family. He’s just over 10 years older than me with a wife and three kids. All his kids are fully grown now, but back then, they were little, and I had a front row seat for the chaos. I’ll never forget one moment in particular. While he was packing the car for a family vacation, he said, “I am in high demand right now.”

I think of that often, especially after getting married and having a family of my own. There will never be more demanded of me in my life than right now. And if you’re reading All Pro Dad, then you’re probably in the same boat. We live with a lot of tension. Our success as dads depends largely on knowing what causes our tension and on knowing how to handle stress and pressure well. Here are 5 things that cause tension and ways to deal with it.

1. Kids

Every day, the concerns we have for our kids run through our heads. Are they OK? Will something bad happen to them? What will I do or say when it does? What will they do next? What if it costs more than we can afford? What do I need to teach them? Why aren’t they listening? Kids are uncontrollable, unpredictable, and make our lives feel chaotic. We want to control them and make their outcomes certain, but we can’t.

What to do: In the midst of the tension, we need to remember Psalm 127:3, which says, “Children are a gift from the Lord.” They can make our days more interesting and exciting. The weight of responsibility makes us grow in wisdom and strength.

Resolve matters quickly, take responsibility for your faults, and extend grace and forgiveness.

2. Work or Lack of It

We have daily responsibilities, deadlines to meet, goals to reach and numbers to hit. There are disapproving bosses and company politics to navigate. And then there’s not having any of that, which causes even more tension. As someone who has experienced being laid off and fired, I can tell you, not having a job can make you feel lonely, purposeless, and deflated. When we’re working, we’re stressed about performing well. When we’re out of work, we’re stressed about everything else.

What to do: God is ready to take your stress from you. Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Difficulty and struggle make us evaluate what is good and right. When your tension feels heavy, God offers hope, provision, wisdom, and a future. Involve Him in your struggles.

3. Relationships (Wives)

Relationships make life rich, but they also take a lot of work. This is especially true for those who are closest to us. When we are on the same page, everything feels good. If you golf, it’s like swinging through the ball effortlessly. You can’t wait to hit your next shot. But when you’re off or there are mixed feelings, the tension runs deep into the pits of our stomachs, particularly in marriage.

What to do: Focus on making your relationships right and maintaining peace. As Ephesians 4:2–3 reminds us, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Do your best to resolve matters quickly, take full responsibility for your faults, and extend grace and forgiveness.

Sound off: Do you know how to handle stress and pressure well? How do you handle these three things?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What causes you the most tension or anxiety?”