7 March Stress Busters

We’ve made it to March, y’all! Not only does that mean the worst of winter is surely behind us (fingers crossed!), but here on my blog, a new month means it’s time for another installment in my Stress Buster blog series. I hope you’re finding it helpful and also fun as we think of different month-appropriate ways to lighten life’s stresses.

March always promises to be filled with activity, doesn’t it? The coming attractions include March Madness, the coming of spring, Spring Break, and even Easter weekend falling on the last couple of days of the month this year. Could it be that a teeny bit of stress will creep in as we squeeze extra activities into our already busy lives?

So to combat the stress that may try to march (hee hee) against us this month, here are some stress busters especially for March. Hope they make a difference for us!

7 March Stress Busters

  1. Get into the spirit and enjoy some March Madness. If you’re a die-hard basketball enthusiast, you may fill out a bracket and the whole nine yards, but if you’re not a big fan, you can still choose a team to root for and enjoy a game or two of some of the best basketball that’s played all year. Plus, snacks can be involved!
  2. Hang some wind chimes on your porch or from a tree in your yard and let March play you a medley of tunes. The sound of wind chimes can provide a welcome distraction from the pressures of the day. Let their music put a song in your heart.
  3. Look for signs of spring every day and rejoice in them. Whisper a prayer of thanks over each one or sing a song of praise. You could even snap photos or jot down your spring-sightings in a journal and then look back and remind yourself of them when things aren’t going well.
  4. Treat yourself to a short getaway. Sometimes the only way to get away from stress, particularly work-related stress, is to leave town, if only for a day or two. If you have a spring break in your schedule and can take extra time away, do it. Enjoy a change of scenery and a change of pace.
  5. Take advantage of a warm day and enjoy one of your favorite outdoor activities. Go to the zoo or take a nice long walk or a bike ride. Break away from your indoor confines and soak up some sunshine.
  6. On one of March’s colder days, spend some time dreaming and planning for summer vacation. That’s right, winter will probably stage a last hurrah this month so combat it with thoughts of warm summer days and what you might do for vacation. Spend some time looking online for possible destinations or grab your sweetie and daydream options together.
  7. As Easter approaches, sing or listen to favorite hymns or praise choruses celebrating the season. When you feel stress building, hit pause and turn your heart to the Savior and sing for him. Let him be the Prince of Peace in your life.

If March has come in like a lion for you, my friend, I pray that these stress-busting strategies will help it go out like a lamb. May God bless you with all the best this month has to offer!

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2 NIV

*Which of these stress busters sounds the most appealing to you?

*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.)

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

*Flickr photo by Fimb, Creative Commons License

7 February Stress Busters

*I’ll be taking a blogging break during Valentine’s week. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

With the flip of the calendar to February, it’s time for another installment in our Stress Busters blog series. I started it in September and I pray it’s been a blessing to you. Hopefully you’ve discovered some new ideas for reducing stress as we think of strategies especially appropriate for each month of the year.

Since February is the month of love, some might think stress should disappear, but alas, the expectations of Valentine’s Day can actually add stress to some of our lives. Combine that with the other stresses that invariably rise up to drag us down, and yes indeed, it is a very good idea to consider how we might reduce our stress levels.

So here, my friends, are seven stress busters for your February days:

  1. Say “I love you” to someone every day this month. Whether saying the words, writing a note, or posting a meme on someone’s Facebook page, brighten days for others and lift your own spirit as you share love. See how many different people you can touch.
  2. Perform a random act of kindness. Offer an encouraging word, hold a door, leave an extra generous tip, or pay for the person behind you in line. Surprise someone unexpectedly. Not only will it make you happy, but you might just change the course of someone’s day, week, or life.
  3. Offer a comforting touch or hug as often as an opportunity presents itself. Loving touches have a way of helping stress melt away for both parties involved. Bless others—and let others bless you—with a hug.
  4. Show yourself some love with an out of the ordinary treat. Get a massage, indulge in a candlelit bubble bath, order your favorite dessert, or take a day (or afternoon) off to do something fun. Enjoy yourself!
  5. Make a list of the things you love about your life. The biggies will come to mind first, but nothing is too small to include. If it brings you joy, jot it down. As you do, whisper a prayer of thanks.
  6. Call a friend or family member you rarely get to see and share some love and laughs. Sometimes hearing a distant loved one’s voice soothes our spirits the way nothing else can.
  7. Read and reflect on a passage from the Bible—God’s love letter to us—each day. Let the Word of God infuse your spirit with peace and joy and wisdom. Let it refresh and recharge you to deal with the demands of your life.

Your stress is sure to diminish if you put these ideas to work this month. As you do, may your February be filled with love and joy. And chocolate. Don’t forget the chocolate!

“Love never fails . . .” 1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV 

*Which of these stress busters will be the easiest for you to carry out? Which will be the biggest challenge?

*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.)

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

*Flickr photo by Tania_Cataldo, Creative Commons License

Winter and Life Extremes: A Time to Hunker Down

Do you get any of winter’s deep freeze days where you live? You know, those days that start in the single digits or below and if you’re lucky climb well into the teens? We shiver our way through days like that each winter here in southeast Kansas. And I am not a fan.

In fact, I’m not a fan of winter in general, but I must admit, like everything else, winter has its perks. One of those perks for writers like me unfolds as nature speaks something new to us, something we can share through the written word. And sometimes those words come out as poetry.

So here’s my latest poem, friends—inspired and served up by Old Man Winter himself. I hope it blesses you. Even if you shiver a bit while reading it!

A Time to Hunker Down

We all notice the day
when winter blows in,
when autumn’s refreshing nip
takes a frigid turn.
Jackets and sweaters give way
to gloves and down,
and we all settle in
for Old Man Winter’s stay.

And then one night
the cold becomes colder
and we’re plunged into
deep freeze days,
days when nature itself hunkers down,
when nothing moves or makes a peep,
when frozen silence is all we hear.
Yes, nature holds its breath,
shuts down and waits it out.
The bitter extreme calls for a break.

As ever, we can learn from nature.
Let’s take our cues, follow its lead
when bitter extremes hit our lives.
We too might benefit
by stepping back and taking a breath,
by getting quiet and waiting on God.
We too may need to hunker down,
we too may need to take a break.
And one day the sun will come out,
one day sweet life will go on.

“. . . ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31

*When have you had to hunker down?

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.)

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

*My photo

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