Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

10 Practical Ways to Keep Your Peace During Stressful Times

Stock market got you rattled? Work stressing you out? Weight out of control? There are so many things that can cause us to lose our peace, aren't there? It's easy to get stressed out in today's non-stop world. Yet there are some things we can do to stay calm and enjoy our day, despite what's going on around us. Today, I'd like to offer up some tips on how to keep our peace during the rough spots along the highway of life.

1. Take a deep breath.

When we are stressed we tend to take shallow breaths. Try a few deep, long inhalations and exhalations and feel the immediate calm. Close your eyes if you can and concentrate on breathing through your abdomen instead of your chest. Oxygen helps calm the body and signals the brain to counter the fight or flight response.

2. Make time for solitude.
Being around people, computers, phones, and lights all day long can be stressful. Talking drains our energy. Instead of picking up the phone to vent your frustrations, try talking to God, journaling, and meditation. Unlike some people, God is never too busy to listen. When we take time to get alone with ourselves, we disconnect from all the distractions going on around us. Solitude is a way to recharge our batteries. Learn to appreciate quietness. It might feel awkward for a short time if you're used to constantly having music or television blaring, but soon you will begin to enjoy it and your ability to hear from God will increase. Guaranteed.

3. Slow down.
The fast pace of life today is not only unhealthy, it is actually dangerous to our hearts, brains, and bodies. In order to live in the presence of God and the present moment, we must slow way down and that means not only our lives and activities, but our thoughts as well. My mind can go a million miles a minute. Ask my mother. It takes awareness to slow our thoughts down and we can't do it if we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off. When we slow down physically, we are able to slow down mentally as well. God's pace is slow, have you noticed?

4. Go for a slow walk.
Even a short 15 minute break on a busy day can get you off the rat's wheel and into a more relaxed frame of mind. I know it seems counter-intuitive but believe me, a SLOW walk will give you time to focus on your breathing and quiet your mind. Fast walking perpetuates fast-paced activity and thinking.

4. Pray and meditate.
The time to pray and meditate is BEFORE things get chaotic. Prayer and meditation are the ways we use to connect with ourselves and with God. Prayer is speaking to God and meditation is listening. If I know I am going to have a busy day, I make even MORE time to pray in the morning. If my mind and my spirit are not properly prepared, there is NO WAY I'm going to stay peaceful. I remind myself that I am a child of God, that Jesus is always with me, and that all I need to do is trust and obey.

5. Watch the negative self-talk.
Capture the thoughts running through your mind at any given point during the day. Mindfulness helps us to be aware of what we are doing and what we are thinking. Are our thoughts positive? Or are we thinking things like "This XXX is going to be the death of me" or "These kids are driving me crazy" or "I'll never get all this done". If so, it's time to replace the old recordings with positive affirmations. You will get it all done. You will not go crazy and you can handle whatever life brings at you. Negative, fearful thoughts only contribute to the feelings of stress and anxiety. We are in control of our thoughts. Don't let them control you.

7. Be gentle with yourself.
Realize you are only human. We were not built to do it all. Take a hot bath. Do your nails. Treat yourself to a nice cup of hot tea or cocoa. Put your feet up and read a few pages of your favorite book or magazine or take a few minutes to meditate and clear your mind. Take the pressure off by doing little things within your control.

8. Set limits.
Learn to use that two-letter word 'NO' more often. We each have the same amount of time each day. No one sets our schedules but us. When I was raising my sons, I learned things usually take more time and energy than I realize. I learned to build margin into my life so I wouldn't be so stressed out and rushed all the time.

9. Repeat your mantra.
Choose a word or a phrase that reminds you that you can handle whatever is stressing you out. I like to use verses from the Bible as they are powerful and God responds when we speak His word out loud.
Some good ones are:
- "This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it."
- "I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me."
- "Do not be anxious about anything, but pray about everything."
- "Lord, help me to be an instrument of thy peace."

10. Strengthen your spiritual muscle.
Remember you have a power deep within you to help you overcome life's challenges. The power of Faith is a tremendous weapon against stress and anxiety. When we practice strengthening our spiritual muscle, the circumstances of life will have less power over us.

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

Start implementing a few of these tips every week in the New Year and you will see results. When we learn to make peace a priority in our lives, everything else falls into place somehow. If you'd like your copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path", enter your email in the box provided and I'll get it right out to you. Do post a comment and share what tips you use to keep your peace and until next time - keep looking up!