Manage Stress and Survive Crisis

Family Shield Ministries logo

July 26, 2023

The Sixth Trait that Builds Strong, Healthy Families

Manage Stress and Survive Crisis
written by Kay L. Meyer

Ruth called the Family Shield office to ask for prayer and shared, “My 41-year-old son was in a serious boating accident. Two friends died. His spleen was damaged and he is hospitalized. Would you pray for Jonathan and our family?” Less than five days later she called again. “My son is out of the hospital and doing better. But my husband has had a stroke. He’s hospitalized. Would you pray again for our family and especially for Dan?” As I hung up the phone it dawned on me…Ruth had learned how to manage stress and survive crisis.  She knew prayer was critical, knew the Lord walked with her and her family and placed her faith and trust in God.

Of the six traits that build strong, healthy families, the last one--helping families learn to cope with stress and crisis, is the most difficult to help individuals and families implement. What can you do to help your family? How can your congregation help families in this area? In this article, we will discuss the sixth trait that helps build strong, healthy families---“Managing Stress and Survive Crisis!”

A few years ago I invited Dr. Mark Hannemann and Kristen Ruttencutter, counselors, to join me on a Family Shield radio program to discuss this topic. I asked, “How would you define stress and crisis? How are they alike and how they are different? And how do we help individuals learn to manage stress and survive crisis?” Some of the following is taken from that interview.

Stress is an imbalance between the demands on the family and the ability we have to cope or meet those demands. It’s when things are out of the norm. The school year starts, or summer vacation begins. Your teenager goes off to college. Stress usually happens to one person in the family. Crisis usually happens to the entire family. It is an acute stressor that usually happens with no warning. You can’t ignore it.

Why do people who are stressed out sometimes lose control and explode in anger? Stress causes adrenaline in our bodies to build up. The adrenaline needs to be released in appropriate ways or it may come out in an inappropriate way like exploding in anger.

Stress and crisis can also cause medical concerns. Some of these include fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, overeating, depression, forgetfulness, increased breathing, migraine headaches, increased heart rate, rise in blood pressure, angina, hypertension, ulcers, and diabetes. Stress can be harmful to others. People under stress can make mistakes. A mother, late for a meeting, forgets to take her 7-month-old child out of a car in the middle of the summer. The child dies.

Life is stressful. Almost anything can cause stress. Changing jobs, taking on a new project at work, moving, getting a divorce, getting children ready to start school, having a child go to college, organizing a wedding or special event, and the like. So, how do we learn to manage stress?

The first step is to assess or diagnose your stress level. Then monitor it. The first place to go for help in dealing with stress is to our family. Other resources include: the extended family, teachers, and friends. Recognize it is happening and don’t deny it. Assess the situation. Is your family arguing constantly? Sit down and talk together about your schedule and the situations that are causing the stress. If the situation is out of control consider professional counseling. Prioritize your goals and objectives and make sure the Lord and your family are priorities.

Here is an example. Your husband and father got a promotion. He always wanted this new job, but now that he has it there is constant stress and little time for his wife and children. Talk to your family. Let them know what you’re dealing with so they can support you. “This job demands more of me then I expected, and I need your help. I know as I learn the job things will get easier. But for now I really need your help. What do you need from me?” Support each other. Don’t isolate yourself and try to deal with the stress alone.

Model how to deal with stress. Allow your children to see that you ask for the Lord’s help or when a serious problem arises.

Children and stress. Remember that children worry and get stressed too. Kristin Ruttencutter shared that children often act out when they are stressed, whereas adults tend to hide the stress.” Children might cry, start a fight, or act out in another ways that is not normal for them." If your child is starting kindergarten, try to take them on a tour or meet the teacher before school begins. Teach them coping strategies. New experiences can be stressful. Listen to them. Comfort them and assure them that everyone will work out. Allow them to discuss their fears and concerns. Then talk about how they might handle these situations if they occur. Make sure they get enough sleep, focus on their spiritual wellness, and take time for prayer. Let them see that you do the same for yourself.”

Another stressor for parents is when they allow children to be involved in too many activities. Limit the number of activities your children can become involved in, especially if you have a large family.

Plan strategies to prevent stress. Learn to manage stress and the inevitable. Let the petty irritants and minor stresses go. Take time for yourself and your spouse. Learn to use appropriate humor in stressful situations. Laughter relieves stress. Get enough exercise. Get enough sleep. It relieves stress. Take a break and learn to relax. Take a walk and enjoy God’s creation. Enjoy pets. Be organized. Support each other by helping and communicating when you see your spouse or child is stressed out. Act as a support system for others in your family who are stressed outTurn worries and concerns over to the Lord. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God (Phil. 4:6).  

How can we survive crisis? Crisis can be the loss of a job, a serious financial problem, dealing with depression or a bi-polar disorder, a life-threatening illness, a fire that destroys your home, finding yourself in an abusive relationship, or hundreds of other situations. Sometimes people make crisis plans. For instance, we always told our children what to do in case of a fire in our home. And where to meet outside if this ever happened. Schools have fire drills. It might be beneficial for families to do the same thing. But many times we just can’t plan or manage crisis. We must survive the crisis by taking one day at a time and trusting God to walk with you.

Our family has gone through crisis, too. Some years ago, my husband was in a gasoline explosion. He was in intensive care for weeks. We took one day at a time, continued to pray for healing, strengthen to endure and got through this difficult time. Another crisis occurred when my mother went in for minor surgery, got an infection and died within weeks of her surgery. Again, it took time, but our family survived this crisis. If you haven’t faced a crisis yet, you will. Pray now that the Lord will give you the ability to survive and stay close to Him.

I want to conclude with a portion of an e-mail I received from Dr. Dick Hardel. Dick tells me about his illness. Because of it he has had to change his lifestyle drastically. “By God's grace I am living with the fact that I have Myasthenia Gravis and God will give me all the strength I need to do what God has called me to do. Wellness is not the lack of illness.  Wellness is to have God centered in Christ in every aspect of one's life.  I am living well in Christ in the midst of this disease,” Dr. Richard Hardel. This is my prayer for you, dear readers. May you live well in Christ!

If you are interested in learning more about the "Six Traits that Build Strong, Healthy Families" read the series I wrote on this topic here: Six Traits to Build Healthy Families - Family Shield Ministries

Radio Programs, Podcast Topics, and Guests

with host, Kay L. Meyer, founder & president of Family Shield Ministries

Dealing with Depression
July 11-17
Guest: Dr. Richard Winter

Dealing with Trauma
July 18-24
Guest: Dr. Marie Yvette Seltz

The Differences Between the Mormon God and the Christian God
July 25-August 1
Guest: Bill McKeever of Mormon Research Ministry

Summertime Activities for Children
August 2-7
with Kay Meyer

Learning About Spiritual Gifts
August 8-13
with Kay Meyer

Hope When Your Heart Breaks
August 14-21
Guest: Rev. Michael Newman

Topic: To Be Announced
August 21-27

Getting Help for an Eating Disorder
August 28-Sept. 4
Guest: Patti Caskey

Topic to be Announced
September 5-10

The Partnership in Discipling Children Between Parents and Congregations
Sept. 11-18
Guest: Rev. Brian Weaver and Rev. Chris Kennedy

We Depend Upon Your Support, Generosity, and SacrificeEspecially During the Summer Months

Family Shield Ministries is a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. It is self-supporting and self-governing. We depend upon your support, generosity, and sacrifice to allow us to share the gospel with those who do not know Christ and equip Christians to serve and witness. Please pray for us, mail a donation or give a one-time gift or a monthly gift at Thank you!


"Give as freely as you have received." (Matthew 10:8)