Reducing Stress in 2017

So another year begins and many of us love a fresh start to reset and hopefully do things a bit better than we did in 2016.

If I am honest I realised that I didn’t deal that well with the normal end of year stress in 2016 for a variety of reasons. (Hence the absence of my blog !)

If you are like me, you want to find a way to live with less stress and every year you come up with a new strategy – often for me  which involves sitting on a beautiful beach for hours, great plan but not always achievable.

I have just returned from a few weeks holiday (vacation) and I did just that – lots of chilling , on beaches or by the harbour. While I was relaxing one of the books I was reading was the  The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp . I can’t remember the last time I cried as much in a non fiction book . This book has much to say – and much that is challenging me . However as I process the challenges there is one thing that stands out to me right now .

Its Chapter Nine called the Miracle in Your Pocket that Breaks Stress.

In this Chapter, the Yale and UCLA study on Acts of Kindness is unpacked.

Turns out one way to reduce your stress is to do  a small act of generosity for some-one else ! Apparently overall we do one or two acts of kindness a day as a matter of course but when we increase this at all,  we see a tangible benefit to our well-being . Helping behaviours seem to lower stress. ( CBS Report of UCLA/ Yale study )

I love that science is showing us what the Bible has told us for centuries in so many verses –  here is a favourite “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Prov 11.25.

I know we still need to exercise, eat well. delegate better, turn off emails at night etc etc to reduce stress  – but it turns out we can also just do a simple act of kindness to another person, once more than usual, in a day and we will feel better. I love it ! What a classic win/win.

Before we get too sincere and want to only give to others without benefit to ourselves lets consider our design.

What if we are created in the image of the God who IS love – and that love is expressed in giving?

What if the God of the Universe created us to be giving beings?

What if the only way we really function in a healthy way is when we are being kind and giving?

What if giving to some-one else takes our eyes off our own problems long enough for us to see a solution, hear the still small voice or reconnect with the Prince of Peace?

Imagine a world where everyone just did one more act of generosity a day, a world with reduced stress and increased kindness (little John Lennon I know but bear with me), sounds to me like a world where the Kingdom of God is increasing.

Its simple and basic I know – but isn’t it the loveliest way of reducing stress in 2017?

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7 Tips to Coping with Peak Seasons

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Peak seasons – we all have them – times when we are unusually busy. For me there are three times in the year that are the main peaks; the lead up to College starting, the end of College and Presence Conference. For me they are wonderful as we welcome new students, celebrate and graduate or attend an incredible conference. They are also stressful and tiring.

In the past I have been great at achieving much in these seasons, narrowing my focus to the tasks at hand and ignoring everything else. Which sounds brilliant and probably was good for KPIs but was actually pretty unhealthy for me. I would wind up exhausted, able to schedule a migraine and with a house that was a disaster. (Any previous flat mates or roommates will tell you it is true !)

So I have learnt in recent years a better way – and most of you probably knew this intuitively – but maybe some of you are like I was.

Seven tips for coping with the Busy Season

1.Pray

Keep praying – long hours are exhausting,and God understands the season, but spiritual disconnection is not the answer. Apart from anything else you need His strength and wisdom.

2. Exercise
Keep exercising – we all feel like we don’t have time when we are busy but the stress relief from my morning walk with an excited puppy is priceless

 3. Eat well 

If  you are a stress eater like me you will reach for the chocolate – and in moderation it is wonderful – but believe me too much of a good thing will mess with you. I now have a fruit and veggie box delivered which helps so much – there is always healthy food in my fridge . Plan ahead for busy times and shop. Otherwise you will eat fast food and feel awful. Your body needs to be working well at these times.
4. Sleep

Sleep as normally as you can. Try not to stay up late watching Suits- oh wait that is just me !
5. Have fun

Last night I got home after two huge days and the temptation was to hibernate in front of the TV. However my brother invited me to play a board game with the family and a friend. Did I feel like learning a new game? Not at all? Do I know my extrovert self would be better for some fun with people – yes. (See my previous post on Knowing Yourself ) So I got into it and for two fun hours could only focus on getting my men up a board game mountain alive and beating everyone else. It was so much better stress relief than allowing my life to narrow down to work and sleep.

6. Clean your House /Bed room 
Keep your house in vaguely good shape – and make sure the washing is done. I am convinced one of the keys to life is a stack of clean underwear and clean sheets – somehow if I have both of those all is well with the world.

7.Laugh 
Keep laughing – don’t take it all too seriously – this season will pass and the next one is coming. Even in the midst of very tough times there are things to laugh about which will “do you good like medicine” . (This is from a girl prone to getting way too intense – it doesn’t really help anyone )

I know it is all very basic – however it took me a while to learn.
What do you do in peak times?

(If you would like to get content like this  in your email regularly and never have to look for it on social media again – just put your email address in  the subscribe section . My goal is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made and to encourage you on your journey! If you liked it feel free to share it on Social Media- if you don’t like it let me know – don’t want write blogs no-one likes ! )