7 July Stress Busters

Since July finds many of us overheated by extreme summer temps and over-stressed by demands of life that take no vacation, let’s refresh ourselves today with the next in my year-long month-appropriate Stress Busters blog series.

This July installment is the next-to-last in the series I began last September. I hope you’ve found it helpful in seeing you through the various stresses that have tried to bring you down or keep you in knots over the past several months. Stress is ever-present in our lives so we need to be ever-alert to reducing it where we can.

So here you are, friends—7 July Stress Busters designed to cool you off and refresh your spirits. Be blessed by them!

7 July Stress Busters

  1. Take in a fireworks display on the 4th. Whether a city-wide display in a stadium or a park or your own personal fireworks extravaganza with family and friends, blowing up fireworks is such a fun and exciting way to blow off the steam of life’s stresses. The beauty, the thrill, and the fun of sharing it with others all work together to reenergize your spirit.
  2. Moderate the heat of outdoor activities—and the heat of unwanted stress—with some ice-cold watermelon. Watermelon is tasty any time of year, but add the heat of summer to the mix and its cool and refreshing sweetness makes a body go yum! And as you relish the taste and experience, you’ll relax and forget your worries for a bit.
  3. If at all possible, go on a vacation. Time away from work or just the normal routines of life can help you unwind both physically and mentally as you focus on other things—family fun, the great outdoors, new foods and experiences, relaxing with a good book, or any number of other things you love to do when you’re away from your regular responsibilities. Say goodbye to stress and hello to fun!
  4. Go to the movies. When the sizzling temps of July make it next to impossible to de-stress with time outdoors, enjoy some air-conditioned relaxation in your local movie theater. Seeing a movie on the big screen is a treat in itself, but go ahead and splurge on snacks too. Get away from it all and enjoy the adventure.
  5. Browse the shelves at your local library or favorite bookstore. Give yourself permission to do this leisurely as you savor the quiet atmosphere. Set stress aside and explore all that the room has to offer. Take joy in your new discoveries.
  6. Take a swim or play in the sprinklers. No better time than July to jump in the pool—or pond or river or ocean—and let the water wash your cares away. Or if you’re like me and swimming is not your thing, cool off in the sprinklers. That’s right, become a kid again—and yes, grab one or two or ten while you’re at it—and enjoy dashing through the sprinklers. Don’t forget to open your mouth wide and grab a drink too. Remember, fun equals refreshment.
  7. Stir up some homemade ice cream. Ah, the delight of homemade ice cream during the heat of July. Definitely hard to beat. Add your favorite topping, cake, or pie and you take the delight up to a whole new level. Simply divine. And the simple pleasure it brings will provide just the soothing touch your frazzled spirit needs.

May these stress busters help you chill out in more ways than one, my friends. And as you do, lift your eyes to the heavens and offer thanks to God for the joys of life. They are all around!

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” Psalm 92:4 NIV

*Which of these stress busters most appeal to you right now?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out August 1st. One lucky subscriber will receive a $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.) 

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by yllek, Creative Commons License

7 June Stress Busters

Our first month of summer is before us—who’s ready to bust some stress? I’m certainly ready to lend a hand in that endeavor with the next installment in the year-long Stress Busters monthly blog series I’ve featured here since last September. I hope it’s been a great way for you to kick off each new month and that you’ve been inspired and helped by the ideas you’ve found here.

Since we would all like to experience some of that summertime easy livin’ that the old Gershwin song refers to, let’s consider the following June stress busters. May they help you set aside life’s pressures every now and then and relax and refresh instead!

7 June Stress Busters

  1. Listen to some music that helps you relax. For some that might mean classical music while others may find that classic rock helps them unwind better than anything else. If you haven’t done it yet, why not click on the link above and listen to Gershwin’s Summertime as sung by Ella Fitzgerald. That should do the trick!
  2. Take in a baseball game. Summer and baseball go hand in hand so be sure to get at least one taste of it this month. Whether Little League or your favorite professional team, leave your worries behind and enjoy an afternoon or evening of relaxing to America’s favorite pastime.
  3. Plan for fun on Father’s Day. Set aside responsibilities to focus on your family on this special day. Treat the dads in your life to whatever puts a smile on their faces. As you show love and receive it in return, you’ll find stress melting away.
  4. Relive fun summer memories. Take a break from the stress and demands of your life by looking through photos of past vacations, day trips, or family gatherings. Let those precious memories replace the worries of the day with smiles and laughter.
  5. Take advantage of pleasant nighttime temperatures and do some stargazing. Before it reaches the hottest part of the summer, take a walk in the moonlight or lie on a blanket in the yard and look up at the stars. Relax in the night sky’s beauty—and in the knowledge that the Creator of it all is watching over you.
  6. Grab a friend and go out for ice cream. Ice cream is one of the all-time favorite summer comfort foods so combine that with the company of a good friend and you’ve got the recipe for some sure-fire stress relief. Choose some sort of yummy chocolate flavor and you’ll take the stress relief to a whole new level!
  7. Take a drive or bike ride in the country and get away from it all. Enjoy the scenery and scents of country life. Stop along the way to walk and take photos. Capture the beauty of the open countryside—wildflowers, birds, the sky, farms, cattle, pastures, crops, ponds, and streams. Whatever catches your eye. Thank God for his marvels in creation and for refreshing your spirit.

I hope these stress busters keep you busy in the best possible way this month—busy relaxing and enjoying life and the Lord. Have a glorious June, my friends!

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3 NIV

*Which of these stress busters sounds most refreshing to you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. 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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by kla4067, Creative Commons License

Budget Agreement with the Father of the Bride

*I’ll be taking a blogging break during Spring Break so will see you back here Tuesday Mar. 27. Blessings to all!

Mother of the Bride, are you on the same financial wedding-planning page as the Father of the Bride? Budget talk is never fun—in daily life or in wedding planning—but you’ll save yourself and your husband (or ex-husband as the case may be) countless unpleasant exchanges if the two of you are in budget agreement from the earliest stages of your planning.

FOBs may joke that their job in wedding planning is to hand over the checkbook or credit card, but they really do want to have a say in what’s reasonable to spend for the whole affair. If you’re not careful, wedding expenses can turn into a runaway train in the blink of an eye. If you know how much the FOB is comfortable spending, MOB, you’ll know when to apply the brake and slow the wedding-planning locomotive down.

Most men—on their first time around the FOB block—have no idea what a wedding can cost so be sure to enlighten the FOB in your life early on. Better to give him a chance to absorb the shock and weigh in on the budget for your particular wedding than to hit him with repeated shockers throughout the course of the planning.

So MOB, honor the FOB by getting on the same financial page with him from the beginning. Remember, you’re on the same team. You’ll enjoy the big day—and each other—so much more if financial strain and unhappiness doesn’t become a wedge between you. And hey, your spirit of cooperation will bless your sweet daughter as well!

*You might also like to read Wedding Expenses: Get the Most Bang for Your MOB Buck, A Simple Wedding Expense Tip, and Wedding Savings Tip: Borrow!

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Have you subscribed 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.)

*Hope this revised encore post from Jan. 2014 was helpful to you today!

*Flickr photo by Tax Credits, Creative Commons License

7 January Stress Busters

by Cheryl Barker  CherylBarkerWriter

Happy New Year, friends! What say we kick off 2018 with some January stress busters? Hopefully you’ve been enjoying—and benefiting from—the monthly Stress Buster blog series I’ve been offering over the past few months. I pray you’re finding some new ideas and also being reminded to try some strategies you may have heard of or tried in the past.

As far as January goes, some might think that since the holidays are over, January would be smooth sailing. But January holds stresses all its own.

Many are coming face to face with paying for their Christmas spending while others are paying in pounds for their holiday eating. Some may be battling the stress of cabin fever and others are dealing with the stress of winter blues and seasonal affective disorder. And then, of course, there are the regular stresses of life that plague us any time of year. So yes, Virginia, there is indeed stress in January.

May the following January stress busters help get your 2018 started off on a good foot. Be blessed as you try them, friends!

7 January Stress Busters

  1. Before getting out of bed, start each day with a short prayer. You could say good morning to the Lord while telling him you love him and asking him to go with you through the day. Or perhaps you can give your day—and yourself—to the Lord and ask him to help you be a blessing to him and to others. As you put your focus on him first thing in the morning, you’ll be more likely to turn to him when stress begins to mount.  
  2. Increase your physical activity in simple ways. Try standing or walking while doing some of the tasks you normally do sitting down. Or take the stairs at work rather than use the elevator. Think of your own routines and get creative. Let endorphins released during exercise combat the stress of the day.
  3. Take some time one evening to relax and re-read the Christmas cards and letters you received in December. Most of us are so busy during the days before Christmas that we don’t have the time to truly savor the beauty and messages of the holiday greetings we received. After reliving those greetings, go ahead and recall some of your favorite moments of the season and give God thanks. 
  4. Soak up some sunshine every time you get the chance. January can have an abundance of gray days so when the sun comes out, take advantage and recharge. Whether at home or out and about, when it comes time to find a place to sit, choose a spot in the sun. And if possible, spend some time outside when the sun is shining. Soak up the rays even if the air is still cold.
  5. Make a few simple changes in spending habits to help pay off your bills more quickly. Instead of buying bottled water or expensive hot drinks, fill up a stainless steel insulated bottle or tumbler with your favorite hot or cold drink and take it with you. Also, don’t spend your change. Save it and apply it to a bill that’s weighing on your mind. Spend a few minutes evaluating your habits and see what else you might be able to do.
  6. Make the most of the cold weather and enjoy the cozy comforts of January. Savor the warming effects of candlelight, comfy throws, snuggly sweaters, and fires in the fireplace. And don’t forget to wrap your hands around a cup of hot cocoa, coffee, or spiced tea. Enjoy!
  7. Break free and go on a spur of the moment outing. If you’ve been snowed in or are staying in as much as possible due to bitter temps, brave the elements and get away from the stir-craziness of your four walls. Go see a movie, meet friends for coffee and conversation, or go wander the aisles of your favorite home improvement store and make plans for spring and summer projects. Do something to re-energize your spirit.

Here’s to less stressful living in 2018—in January and beyond!

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

*Which of these stress busters will best hit the spot for you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks 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 Caaru, Creative Commons License

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