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

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

7 September Stress-Busters

With Labor Day behind us and summer officially over, let’s kick off the rest of September with a few stress-busters to keep at the ready. With the return of regular routines and full schedules, stress is bound to creep back in as well. We might as well be prepared, right?

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

September Stress-Busters

  1. Pull out your fall décor and celebrate the coming change of season. A new season has a way of invigorating and refreshing us, especially when it involves the cooler days following summer. Even if you’re not seeing or feeling the signs of the season yet, joy and fresh energy will bubble up as you light your favorite fall candle and look forward to the season.
  2. Take a break and enjoy your summer photos and videos. Sometimes we’re so busy squeezing in as much summer fun as we can that we don’t have time to enjoy the photos we captured in the midst of it. Give yourself a chance to do it now. Relive your memories. Smile, laugh, and linger over all your precious remembrances—of the summer and even earlier times as well. Enjoy!
  3. Attend a sporting event and root for your favorite team. Whether it’s football, soccer, or late-season baseball, re-energize yourself with the fun of cheering on your team with like-minded friends and family. Leave any stress behind and just have fun!
  4. Take a drive outside of town and go down a road you’ve never taken before. Let the milder temperatures inspire you to explore new territory. You won’t have to go far to find a road you’ve never traveled. Stop along the way and snap some photos or simply enjoy the sounds of country life.
  5. Enjoy some of your favorite fall comfort foods. When cooler days present themselves, bake your favorite cookies during down time at home or start a pot of chili or favorite soup before you head out the door. Savor each warm and yummy bite.
  6. Treat yourself to a nap. Sometimes all you need to bust stress before it takes a firm hold is a little extra rest. Grab your pillow and snuggle down on the sofa. If it’s cool enough, grab your favorite comfy blanket or afghan as well. Close your eyes and give in to sleep, glorious sleep.
  7. Step away from the demands of life and enjoy your favorite hobby. Whether it’s reading, biking, knitting, or taking photos, it’s important to carve out some time to do something that recharges your spirit. When you come back to your to-do list, you’ll feel more relaxed and energized for your tasks.

Along with these strategies for September, don’t forget the ultimate stress-buster that works year round—quiet time with the Lord. Reading his Word, pouring out your heart in prayer and praise, and enjoying quiet moments with him outside in his glorious creation will all certainly refresh you and set your heart at peace. With him you’ll find true refreshment and relief!

“‘I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.’” Jeremiah 31:25 NIV

*Which stress-busters do you most look forward to this fall?

*Flickr photo by infomastern, Creative Commons License

Ever-Ready Refreshment

Have you noticed how we set our sights on the summer months for periods of rest and refreshment, for times to recharge? We take breaks from regular activities and make efforts to get away from home for a while, whether to a vacation destination or a trip to see family or friends. We long for a change and a chance to catch our breaths.

Sometimes that works for us and sometimes it doesn’t. Life may have other plans. We may not get to go on that getaway. Or sometimes we go, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t provide the rest and refreshment we desired and needed.

Whether our plans to refresh and recharge work for us or not, we can take comfort in the fact that nature’s ever-ready refreshment is within our grasp each day. And that, my friends, is a truth that inspires poetry. Hope my latest blesses you!

Ever-Ready Refreshment

Just outside my door I find it
nature’s own remedy,
a ready retreat
an instant vacation
the ever-ready refreshment I need.
When my body needs fresh energy
or my spirit needs a lift,
when my soul cries for God’s own touch
the great outdoors soon beckons me.
A few steps and moments later
the very air around me changes
as I pass from indoors to out,
as I breathe in nature’s tonic.

The miracles in God’s world around me
never disappoint,
as I listen for the song of birds
or hear the wind sashaying through the trees.
The sights, the smells, the sounds, the feel,
and yes, the taste of God’s ever-ready refreshment
set my weary heart to singing,
re-energizes me once again.
And I found it all
just outside my door.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25 NIV

What aspect of creation particularly refreshes you? The ocean? The mountains? Maybe the wide-open fields or the forest? Perhaps flowers? Do tell!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out tomorrow. It’s not too late to receive it (though you won’t be eligible for the giveaway until the next issue.) 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.)

*My photo

Casting a Shadow

Shadows. They can be scary, can’t they? They hold the unknown. They sometimes even hold danger.

In life, we encounter shadows of a figurative kind. The menacing ones seem gigantic. Things like cancer, terrorism, financial problems, loss of loved ones, and divorce. Shadows like that can nearly suffocate us.

But not all shadows in life are negative. This time of year—in the heat of summer—shadows provide shade and welcome relief. We don’t run away from them. Instead we run to them. Some we welcome with open arms.

Loved ones cast a comforting shadow when we’re hurting. Mentors provide the shade of experience and encouragement as we try to grow. Friends offer the shelter of companionship when we’re lonely or needing some fun. And the Word of God stands ever-ready to give us whatever kind of refuge we need. No, not all shadows are negative.

The question we need to consider is what kind of shadow are we casting today in the lives of those who know us? What would they say about our influence or our impact on them if given the opportunity?

Do we bring others (or maybe just certain people) down by our negative or critical attitudes and words? Do we add a dark cloud of worry wherever we go? Or instead, do we lift people’s spirits with our happy dispositions and words of encouragement? Do we cast a ray of sunshine instead of an unwelcome shadow?

If you’re like me, it may be a mixture of both. Sometimes our families get an up-close and personal taste of the negative side of our personalities. Hopefully, those are balanced out by all the positive influences we bring into their lives.

Let’s make sure our shadows—whether with family or with the world in general—are the kind people run to, the kind that provide shade and welcome relief.

Let’s cast shadows that people welcome with open arms.

“O LORD, you are my God . . . You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah 25:1a, 4a

*Who has cast a positive shadow in your life?

*My photo