Are you ever overwhelmed by stress?

By Gaylyn WilliamsWith 0 comments

According to, Missionary life is filled with stress and pressure, and much of it is subconscious.

This past year has been one of the most stressful times in my entire life, from very difficult relationships to stressful living situations overseas—most that I can’t share in a blog. Despite applying the many spiritual resources we have, at times stress and fear have threatened to overwhelm me.

Many people today are very stressed and overwhelmed by life. On top of the normal issues people encounter, cross-All Stressed Up and Everywhere to Go!cultural missionaries also face a myriad of other stresses including: living situations and language challenges; being away from family, friends and their own cultures; relationship issues and conflicts on teams, on bases and in families; low support and not knowing how to increase it or keep it and much more. How much can you relate to? What are some things that cause you and others in your mission the most stress? How are you or others handling it now?

The Holmes-Rahe Scale is one way to measure people’s stress.  The premise is that the number of life events can increase the level of stress until it becomes dangerous. They found that people who reached level 200 on the scale within one year, would have consequences for time to come; and those who reached level 300, would probably end up hospitalized within two years. Dr. Lois Dodds, President and Director of Heartstream Resources, found that the typical missionary had sustained levels of stress over 300—year after year. The typical missionary, actually had double that level—600 on the scale; and that missionaries’ stress in their first term often peaked at 900.

Having been a missionary in various capacities for most of the past forty years, I understand many of the stresses missionaries face. I’ve also trained many counselors, pastors and missionaries in how to effectively handle stress and conflict. When I remember to apply the principles that I’ve used in writing and training, I find great help. However, honestly, at times I get so caught up in the stress that I forget to apply some of them. Recently, out of desperation, I applied the principles in the book my Dad, Ken Williams, PhD, and I wrote on stress, All Stressed Up and Everywhere to Go! It was amazing how it helped. These are the same principles in the Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills workbook. Before Dad went to his reward in 2013 (as he used to say), we began adapting the principles, making them available in books and online courses to anyone, including those who hadn’t gone through a workshop.

How can we help ourselves, as well as the missionaries we serve, to more effectively manage stress? God has given many tools and practical skills that can help us and others work through stress.  What helps you manage your stress? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can respond in the form above, or email me directly at gaylyn at

Blessings on you as you serve our King!

Gaylyn Williams, co-author of All Stressed Up and Everywhere to Go! and director of Relationship Resources