What is going on in the heads of your group members when they show up at your meeting? Do they suffer from stress?
There are many things that could be happening in their lives, right at that moment, that could distract them from what God wants them to receive in the Bible study discussions.
Impact of Stress
The latest Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association demonstrates that stress is a significant issue. Just a few of their findings include:
- 72 percent of adults felt stressed about money at least some of the time.
- The average stress levels of Americans were higher than what were considered healthy.
- Common sources of stress included money, work, the economy, family responsibilities and personal health concerns.
- Common symptoms of stress in the past month included feeling irritable or angry, feeling nervous or anxious, having a lack of interest or motivation, fatigue, feeling overwhelmed, and being depressed or sad.
Small groups can be a place of healing for your members. As they mature as disciples, they will be more capable to manage stress. Small groups can also be a significant source of emotional support.
“Survey findings show that Americans who say they have emotional support—specifically, that they have someone they can ask for emotional support if they need it, such as family and friends—report lower stress levels and better related outcomes than those without emotional support.”
Stress In America: Paying With Our Health
Before you get your Bible-study conversation started, try one of these short activities to bring your members’ stress levels down:
Get Thoughts on Paper
As things come up throughout the day, many people depend on their brain to remember them. These can be items to add to the grocery list, meetings to attend, tasks that need to be done, things being worried about, etc. The amount of “stuff” we continually think about and can’t forget can be overwhelming.
Before your Bible study, give your group members a pen and paper. Instruct them to write everything down they can think of that is currently filling their mind. Give them a couple of minutes to do this, then have them put the paper away so they can forget about those items until they review the paper sometime after the meeting is over. It is surprising how much relief can come from this exercise when they don’t have to use any more cognitive energy to keep track of all of those items.
Listen to Music
Some small groups use music during their meeting as a form of worship. What they may not know is that listening to music can also have a positive impact on our minds and bodies. It is a great stress management tool.
Consider listening to music before your Bible study to help reduce stress.
Exercise can relieve stress. You don’t have to run a 5K race to feel the benefit. A few simple exercises can provide immediate stress relief.
Lead your small group in some of these simple exercises before you start the Bible study. You can start with the stress-busting exercises shown at Reader’s Digest (click here). These can be done right from the spot your small group members are sitting.
Life can be difficult. Don’t assume your group members are ready for the Bible study. Lead off with a stress reducing activity to help get your group members in state that help them get the most out of the small group meeting.
Question: What are some other activities that can be used in a small group meeting to help relieve stress?
This article originally appeared here.