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

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

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