7 December Stress-Busters

December dawned a few days ago, but is it possible during this “most wonderful time of the year” that we’re actually feeling a teensy bit of stress? I’d say not only possible but probable—and not only a teensy bit but a pretty big chunk. A chunk that seems to grow, in fact, as the days tick past on the calendar.

If ever there’s a month where my blog series on stress busters appropriate for each month is needed, December has got to be it. So let’s get right to it. May the following stress busters prove to be an early Christmas present for you, my friends!

December Stress Busters 

  1. Take some time each day—even if just two or three minutes—to sit and gaze at your Christmas tree. Take a deep breath, relax your body, and enjoy your tree—the beauty, the nostalgia that Christmas invokes, and the sense of joy and worship that Christmas trees have a way of inspiring.
  2. Plan for simple meals. Fix one meal for dinner each week that will be enough for at least two nights then throw in a night of take-out and go out to dinner once as well. Give yourself a break where you can.
  3. Don’t just listen to Christmas music—sing along. I’m willing to bet it’s impossible to stay all balled up in stress if you’re actually singing the words to your traditional Christmas favorites. Sing while you wrap presents, do laundry, or bake for the holidays. And sing the carols of Christmas during your personal worship time. It will add a whole new dimension of joy and peace to your celebration of Christmas.
  4. Hire a young teen to wrap your Christmas presents. You won’t have to pay as much and the teen will be glad to earn some extra spending money. And as you reduce your work-load, your stress will shrink as well.
  5. Set aside one night each week to watch one of your favorite Christmas movies. Not only will this give you some extended relaxation time, but it will provide a full-circle kind of contentment as you participate in one of your well-loved traditions.
  6. Enjoy the lights of Christmas—both candlelight and twinkling lights. Candlelight is always soothing but seems to take on an extra measure of beauty and peacefulness during Christmas. And the twinkling lights of Christmas? Get outta here. Be sure to go on a light-looking adventure one night and your stress will get lost along the way.
  7. Read Twas the Night Before Christmas and other classic Christmas books and stories to a child. Stress can’t reign if you’re sharing the magical and wonder-filled joy of Christmas with one (or some) of your favorite littles. And if children aren’t in your holiday picture, read aloud to yourself and slip back in time for some Christmas nostalgia.

So there you have it, friends—some ways to trade your stress for joy and peace this holiday season. And remember, over all these methods and any others you may employ, our best stress-relief can be found in spending time with and worshipping the Savior whose birth we celebrate. Come and adore him and you’ll find your stress melting away!

“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” John 1:4

*Which of these stress-busters will you use this holiday season? What else can you add to the list?

Have you subscribed yet to Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue? If not, sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, just scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Jonathan Stonehouse, Creative Commons License

Simplify Your Holiday Season When Wedding Planning

Mother of the Bride, are you trying to prepare for and celebrate the holidays while also in wedding planning mode? My advice is to give yourself a break and simplify where you can. If possible, put wedding planning on the backburner for December. 

If postponing wedding planning is not possible in your situation, why not simplify your holiday preparations and activities. In fact, even if you can put wedding planning on hold during December, go ahead and take it easier during the holiday season anyway. Don’t just trade one demanding season for another.

Here are a few suggestions to help simplify your holidays this year. Try at least two or three of the ideas—or really get some rest and try them all! You deserve the break, MOB!

  1. Hire a young teen to wrap your Christmas presents. You won’t have to pay as much and the teen will be glad to earn some extra spending money.
  2. Decide on a one-size-fits-all gift to give to many on your list. This will ease the strain on your brain and streamline your shopping. You could give something fun like gift cards to a movie theater or tickets to a sporting event or concert, something yummy like gift baskets from your favorite chocolatier or restaurant gift cards, or something meaningful like a donation to a charity.
  3. Take a break from helping with Christmas programs or providing goodies for holiday events. It may be hard to say no but you owe it to yourself and your family this year when wedding planning stress may already be pressing in as you enter the holiday season.
  4. Scale back on decorating your home. You don’t have to put everything out every year. This is one of those areas where you can easily give yourself a break. Decorate only one room—or put just one or two of your favorite things in each room. You might decide you like this approach so much, you’ll make it your new tradition!
  5. Instead of your traditional time-intensive Christmas dinner, do something simpler. Fix a variety of your favorite appetizers along with home-baked rolls and your traditional desserts or bring in a take-out Italian feast from your favorite Italian restaurant. Make it a festive event with music playing and candles glowing.
  6. Forgo sending Christmas cards or letters this year. Friends and family know you are busier this year than usual and will totally understand if you opt not to send holiday greetings. Post a special greeting on your favorite social media outlet and call it good.
  7. Cut back on your holiday baking and candy-making. Like with decorating, you don’t have to do everything this year. Choose your family’s absolute favorite treats and fix only those.

Maybe these suggestions have even sparked some ideas of your own, MOB. If so, that’s wonderful! Give yourself permission to take the pressure off this year!

*You might also like to read Realistic December Wedding Planning, Mother of the Bride, Enjoy December!, and Time Management: Give Yourself a Break, MOB.

*Flickr photo by luna715, Creative Commons License

7 November Stress-Busters

The calendar has turned the page to another new month so that means it’s time to offer you another set of month-appropriate stress-busters. I hope you’re enjoying beginning each month with some ideas designed to help you relax and refresh in the face of stress.

Whether dealing with the normal daily stresses of life or additional major stresses, we all need ways that can help us step back for a few minutes and intentionally put that stress on a back-burner. If we do that often enough, we may find our overall feelings of stress diminishing as we learn to better cope with them day by day.

May the stress-busting strategies below come in handy in November when you find yourself in need of refreshment and relief. Be blessed, friends!

November Stress-Busters

  1. Take a few minutes to watch the leaves fall from the trees and dance their way to the ground. As you watch them float gently down, imagine your stress falling from your head, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your legs, and your feet in the same way. Consciously relax your body.
  2. Before going to bed each night, jot down at least one thing that happened that day for which you’re thankful. Gratitude has a way of changing our perspective and lessening the worries of the day. By the end of the month, you may decide to keep a gratitude list or journal year-round.
  3. As you begin thinking ahead to Christmas, decide on at least two ways you can simplify your life or the celebration of the season in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you can go beyond making two changes, wonderful. Anything you can do to ease the increased demand of the holiday season will be well worth it.
  4. Enjoy some Thanksgiving nostalgia. Recall and share with family or friends some of your memories of childhood Thanksgivings. Welcome and listen to others’ stories as well. End by sharing your most memorable Thanksgiving whether long past or fairly recent. Let the comfort of past joys soothe your spirit today.
  5. Head outside for some impromptu physical activity. Get in a little leaf-raking therapy or go on your own little turkey trot around the neighborhood. Or you might grab some loved ones and challenge them to a quick game of basketball or touch football. Let your adrenaline pump that stress right out of your mind and body.
  6. Reach out to someone hurting or in need and in the process watch your stresses fade into the background. No question about it—you will be blessed as you bless someone else.
  7. Simplify at the end of a busy day and have breakfast for dinner. Set aside an evening of time-intensive dinner prep and cleanup and fix pancakes and bacon or scrambled eggs and sausage instead. You’ll still enjoy a hot meal with a touch of comfort to boot.

Add to these November stress-busters the ultimate stress-buster of dropping your burdens at the feet of Jesus and peace will be your portion this month rather than worry. Can’t beat a trade like that!

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28

*Share with us—tell about your most memorable Thanksgiving or mention what you’re thankful for today. We’ll all be blessed!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Vijay Gunda, Creative Commons License

Ask Wedding Guests to Unplug During Ceremony

Mother of the Bride, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to ask your sweet couple if they do or do not want guests taking photos during their ceremony. Some won’t care while others will definitely want to discourage photos while they’re tying the knot.

Banning photo-taking during the ceremony can actually be a very positive thing. The bride and groom will be spared a paparazzi-feel during the holy moments they are becoming man and wife, and the guests will be freed from the personal compulsion they feel to snap photos of the big event in progress. Instead, they can be fully present in the moment, watching everything unfold unhindered rather than watching through the screen of a phone or other camera.

A simple Unplugged Wedding sign like the one shown above is all it takes to make such a request of your guests. You can purchase ready-made signs or make your own, and a variety of wording gives the couple an opportunity to state the message in the exact way they wish.

Pinterest, of course, offers several examples of Unplugged Wedding Signs and where they can be placed. And simply Google Unplugged Wedding Signs to find places to purchase the signs. A quick glance shows me that prices can vary anywhere from less than $10.00 for printables to as high as $65.00 for handmade wood signs. Not all wood signs are that expensive, though, so be sure to check out the various options.

Why not share this post with your daughter, MOB? Find out if she and the groom want everyone to unplug with them!

*You might also like to read Just Married Sign and Photo Idea, Flower Girl and Ring Bearer Serve as Sign Bearer, and Include Venue Signs in the Wedding Photos.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Photo by Stephtphotography

7 October Stress-Busters

After posting 7 September Stress-Busters last month, I thought it might be nice to offer month-appropriate stress busters each month throughout this next year. Stress certainly doesn’t take a vacation, so many of us might benefit from some fresh stress-busters at the beginning of every month, huh?

May the following stress-busting strategies come in handy in October when you find yourself in need of refreshment and relief. Be blessed, friends!

October Stress-Busters

  1. Enjoy a fun fall activity with some favorite kiddos in your life. Visit a pumpkin patch, collect colorful leaves, or carve pumpkins for Halloween. Enjoy the season like a kid again!
  2. Decompress with the beauty—and awesome autumn scents—of candlelight. Light candles in various spots in your house so their soothing beauty and comforting aromas will refresh you as you move from room to room.
  3. After the leaves change color, go on a walk in the woods (or your favorite tree-lined street or park.) Let the awesome oranges, reds, and golds fill your spirit with joy.
  4. Spend an entire day (or morning or evening) in your favorite comfy pants and cozy socks. As you change into your relaxed attire and let it comfort your body, take off the stress of the day or week as well. Let your spirit and soul relax and be refreshed.
  5. Plan a coffee or lunch date with friends and treat yourselves to some special foods or drinks offered during fall. Get that pumpkin spice latte or apple cinnamon muffin. Slow down and savor a taste of autumn.
  6. Watch for an especially cool evening and start a fire in the fireplace or firepit. Sit for awhile and soak up its warmth and relaxing beauty. And don’t forget to roast some marshmallows or make some smores. Fully enjoy this evening respite.
  7. Let the cool evenings of October give you permission to curl up on the sofa with your favorite hot drink and a good book (or a must-see tv show.) Lose yourself—and your stress—in a compelling or funny story. Enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor.

Along with these stress-busting strategies for October, let’s not forget to turn to the One who knows every stress we face and is willing and waiting to take the load from us and let us relax in his arms. No better place to be—no matter the day or month!

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by dan.kristiansen, Creative Commons License