Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 25: Live Life with Margin

Live Life with Margin - The Cozy Nook

Richard A. Swenson, M.D. wrote a book about Margin, entitled just that, Margin. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. I read it years ago, and frankly I think it’s time for me to read it again.

The back cover says this:

Overload is not having time to finish the book you are reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is the disease of our time. Margin is the cure. Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.

Can you relate? Do you find yourself living in the “overload” category or in the “margin” category?

If you are stressed, there’s a good chance you find yourself lining up with “overload”. You’re fatigued, rushed, anxious, and depleted. That’s not how we should be living our lives!

We need to live with more margin.

We need room to breathe!

Heidi St. John talks about “white space” in her books, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight and The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance.

She defines it as, “a few days in a row of unscheduled time” and says, “If you don’t have at least two days in a row of white space every week, it’s time to make some changes”.

I don’t know about you, but when I read that I think, “Wow, that sounds more like vacation!”

It’s extremely hard for me to have even one day of white space, where I don’t have anything scheduled. Let’s face the facts... For us, Monday through Friday equals homeschooling plus other activities. Saturday is a day of work and sometimes social opportunity, and Sunday is the Lord’s day, when we are at church half the day.

I do admire Heidi St. John’s vision, though, and think she’s onto something good. We DO need white space in our lives - time when we can just be and live somewhat casually and peacefully, even if we are working during that time.

White space helps us appreciate the blessings of life and helps us undo the fight or flight,
rush-around, fast pace of living.

Do you have margin in your life?
Are you filling up every moment with tasks and scheduled activities?
Do you have time just to breathe and enjoy your family?
Do you have time to do something spontaneously with your kids, just for fun?
Are you rushing here and there with little to give?

May God help us create better margin for our lives!

Take Action: Evaluate your life and see what you can do to create more margin. Can you cross something off your “To Do” list for today or for the week?

31 Days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 100

Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 24: Take a Break!

Take a Break - The Cozy Nook

Sometimes when we are feeling stressed, we need to take a time-out.

We need to walk away from the current circumstances and needs
and focus on rejuvenation.

When we are feeling maxed, as if the next straw on our backs will cause us to crumble, it is time for a break. Really, it is best to take a break BEFORE we feel so weak and vulnerable.

It is important to have regular breaks throughout your day that will help you regain
focus and energy.

At times your break may be part of your normal routine and at other times you may just need to take an unplanned break so you can get through the day.

When you take a break, make sure you do something that helps you feel stronger and more at peace.

You can use your break for productivity or you can use it for rest. I suggest going to another room, away from people, and creating a quiet atmosphere.

Some ideas:

  • Read a book or your Bible
  • Take a nap
  • Exercise
  • Do some deep breathing
  • Spend time on your hobby
  • Pray
  • Go for a walk outside

I have a break time every day, in the afternoon. My life pretty much depends upon it! I direct my household, and then I take my break. I need a break from the constant needs and a good dose of peace and quiet! As I write this post, I am taking a break… in my room with my door shut, a homemade mocha latte, and some wonderful peace. Love it!

Breaks are a simple way to help manage stress!

Make sure you are taking enough of them.

Take Action: If you are feeling stressed today, take a break. If you aren’t used to taking breaks, take one anyway. It will feel good.

31 Days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 100

Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 23: Guard Your Heart

Guard Your Heart - The Cozy Nook

Recently in science, my children and I were talking about stomata. Stomata are pores on leaves that allow carbon dioxide to go in, and oxygen to go out, aiding in the process of photosynthesis.

Do you know what helps these stomata open and close?  Guard cells.

“Plants 'sweat' through openings in their leaves, but what controls these openings? Guard cells are small but important cells in leaves that help plants maintain optimal health.”
Source: Education Portal

The guard cells open and close the stomata, allowing the right substances to go in and out.

In our lives, we are in charge of our “guard cells”. We are the only ones who can monitor what is going in and out of our hearts.

When negative influences and experiences go in, we gain stress.
When bad emotions and words come out, we also inherit stress.

It is imperative for us to guard our hearts, to watch over the flow, so we can prevent adding
more stress to our lives.

I have talked about the importance of thinking positively and saying good things. Both of these things are things we can control – our thoughts and our words. We need to work hard to stay focused on life-giving thoughts and speak words of edification.

In addition to these things, we should be careful as to what information enters our minds each day, what news finds a way to the depths of our souls, what relationships we build, what images we see, what words we hear, etc.

Life is full of bad and good seeds,
waiting to find a place to settle and grow.

We can make choices that will help our days be filled with a greater amount of peace.

Take Action: Be mindful of guarding your heart today. Try to maintain a flow of goodness through your heart.

31 Days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 100

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 22: Seek a Mentor

Seek a Mentor - The Cozy Nook

Last year I wrote a post about “The Blessing of a Mentor”. In that post, I talked about the great value of having a mentor in your life. If you’d like to read more about the beneficial qualities of mentorship, I recommend you read my post.

During times of great stress, it can be highly beneficial to have a mentor in your life.

Years ago I was going through an especially hard time in my life. I just couldn’t seem to gain victory, good perspective, or peace in my life overall. I sought some women who could mentor me, and it helped me. I needed outside support, from women who have walked the road before me. I needed wisdom, friendship, and guidance.

What is a mentor exactly?

A mentor is sort of like a counselor in friendship form. A mentor is someone who will listen to you and give you the tools you need to move forward.

A mentor is usually someone you know and trust, someone whose life and character you respect.

Talking with a mentor helps relieve some of the stress in life, as you not only share your heart but also gain comfort and direction.

Take action: If you are feeling stressed in life, think about finding a mentor. Ask someone to meet you for coffee, talk at church, etc. You may consider revealing your intention of desiring a mentor and needing counsel and support.

31 Days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 100

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 21: Treasure Your Marriage

Treasure Your Marriage - The Cozy Nook

In my last post I talked about the importance of maintaining a good home environment. One HUGE component to think about is the quality of your marriage.

When marriages falter,
there is a great amount of stress.

The marriage is the foundational relationship of a home. All goodness stems from it as the husband and wife work together, as a team, to build a home and legacy.

God created the marriage relationship
to be a source of joy,
the source of the most intimate
companionship on earth.

Troubles will come. Differences will occur. However, we must FIGHT for our marriages!

I oftentimes don’t know where I would be without my husband. He is my confidant, my best friend, my provider, my protector, my stabilizer, my companion, and my love. When difficult times come, I need him. I need his strength. I need his perspective. I need his friendship.

When we don’t work hard to preserve the intimate bond of marriage, we will experience great stress and hardship in life.

Yes, having a good marriage takes much hard work! Perhaps that seems like a daunting task in and of itself. However, the contrary option – a distant, separated, or divorced marriage – will cause much more difficulty and heartache for ourselves and our children, as we undo the sacred bond that God has created to be life-giving.

The marriage relationship is to be
one of the most rewarding relationships
on the face of this earth.

With something so precious, so valuable, and so fragile, we ought to be very protective.

Take Action: Is there stress in your life due to your marriage? Don’t look at your husband. Don’t look at the past. Look at yourself. What can YOU do to help? What can YOU do to make your marriage better? What can YOU do to show your love for your husband today?

31 Days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 100

Monday, October 20, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 20: Maintain a Good Home Environment

Maintain a Good Home Environment - The Cozy Nook

Home is to be a place of rest, rejuvenation, love, security, and much more. When our homes are not in order, we definitely feel the weight of it.

For those of us who work in our homes continually, it is crucial for us to keep our workplace a place of peace.

Keeping order at home is not always easy. The home environment can easily sway towards disorder with people living in it. People are imperfect after all. We can create difficulty in relationships and leave traces of living around the house.

Maintaining a good home environment
is essential to keeping stress at bay.

Maintaining a good home environment is crucial on two fronts:

  1. Relationships
  2. Cleanliness, Order, and Comfort

When our relationships at home are tense, life doesn’t feel very good. It’s important for us to do our best to keep peace in our home. We need God’s help! Evaluate what you can do to improve the relationships in your home.

Love.
Serve.
Be kind.
Be humble.
Apologize.

Also, do your best to keep your home clean, orderly, and comfortable. Remember, we are not striving for perfection, but order! You DO live in your home, so there will be evidence of that. However, we want to do our best to keep our homes in good shape.

A cluttered, disorganized home
causes stress!
A clean, orderly home
brings peace!

Take Action: Think about areas of your home that are stressing you. What can you do to bring more peace and order?

31 Days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 100

Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 19: Live YOUR Life

Live Your Life - The Cozy Nook

Recently I wrote about Five Good Reasons You May Be Spending More on Groceries. One reason I wrote that is because I, myself, tend to spend a good chunk of money on groceries and sometimes would feel as small as a pea when I read the testimonies of low grocery bills. I felt like a failure.

Stress comes when we lose focus
of living OUR OWN lives.

Instead, I am coming to grips with how we live our lives when it comes to groceries (never giving up on improvement), and can read those articles with more peace.

It is great to read articles and glean from people. We need continual encouragement and wisdom to live good lives. However, it is not good for us to compare and feel like we aren’t measuring up if we are not living exactly like the Jones Family.

God has given you a life of blessings.
Live it!

Eat the foods God has given you to eat – the foods that work well with your budget and your health conditions.

Be a team player and best friend to YOUR husband. Don’t worry about how other couples are making things work. Talk with your husband. Problem solve. Create vision. Move forward.

Love the children God has given you. Don’t compare your children with other people’s children. Every child is different, and every child is a gift!

Serve in the ministries where God has called you.

Use the talents God has given you.

And the list goes on…

Don’t try to live someone else’s life.
Stop comparing yourself to Jane.

Focus on living YOUR life!

“aspire … to mind YOUR OWN business,
and to work with YOUR OWN hands”

1 Thessalonians 4:11

Take Action: Try hard to stay mentally focused on your own life. Be thankful for the blessings God has given you.

31 Days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 100