Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 31: Live by Faith, Not Fear

Live By Faith, Not Fear - The Cozy Nook

Well, I made it! It’s the last day of the “31 Days” writing challenge. I appreciate everyone who supported me this month – through your “likes”, your comments, your shares, and your encouraging words. Thank you!

This was a journey of becoming less stressed, and I hope you were able to do that! Fortunately, my continual writing didn’t stress me out too much. ~wink~

To end this series, I am going to address something very integral and foundational in our lives, something that forces us to address the very core of our beings and decide whether we will choose to live by faith or by fear…

This summer I was presented with various situations where I was experiencing a lot of stress.

In one situation I was looking for a volunteer teacher to help with our girls’ classes at church. I had asked eight women before I got a “yes” and in the process had another position open up. That process drained me, and I allowed it to cause stress in my heart. I was living by fear, not faith. I was worried that I wouldn’t find anyone to fill the spots. I was worried that I would have to shut down the program. I was worried about a lot of things. My mind and emotions went a bit crazy.

Rather than trusting that God would
take care of things, no matter what,
I was focusing on all of the if’s, and’s, or but’s.

In another situation I was presented with some challenges with my health. I was experiencing a lot of physical symptoms and forced myself to get a check-up. My new cardiologist wanted me to get a stress echo test. I didn’t feel good before I got there. I was unable to finish the test because I nearly passed out and my heart rate skyrocketed.

Both at the stress echo test and my follow-up visit with the cardiologist (and in-between), I felt a lot of anxiety. I felt inadequate, weak, unsure of the present and the future, and taxed.

Once again fear filled my heart.

God prompted me one day about these and other situations in my life and caused me to realize how much I was living by fear rather than faith. I had a choice to make.

Was I going to let fear rule my heart or FAITH?

When we are confronted with stressful situations in our lives, we choose how we will respond. We can respond with uncertainty and emotionalism or we can respond by turning to God and trusting that He is control of our lives.

Are you living by fear or faith?

Only you can make the choice.

This choice is very crucial because it really affects our attitude towards dealing with stress in general.

If we live by fear, we will be paralyzed and hesitant to push forward and make the changes we need to make.

If we live by faith,
our actions are fueled by confidence and hope.

I pray you will choose to live by faith. I pray that you will ask God to help you with the stress that you carry and ask Him to give you the strength to alter how your life is going.

As you continue your journey in this fallen world, I pray that you will do whatever it takes to fight against stress in your life. It robs us of abundant life!

May the Lord richly bless you!

Take Action: Surrender your anxiety to God. Ask Him to help you. Drive out the fear that resides in your heart by stirring up your faith in the living God!

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 30: Prayer and Praise

Prayer and Praise - The Cozy Nook 

Prayer and Praise are two of our most important weapons against stress,
yet two of the most neglected.

If you’re honest with yourself, you will probably admit to that – at least most of us can. When it comes to dealing with stress, we might think about getting away from it all, getting some peace and quiet, and being able to do something that is enjoyable. It is easy to *think* about praying and submitting situations to God. It is easy to *think* we should be praising God in the midst of trouble. However, it is hard to put these two into action sometimes.

If we can learn to turn to these wonderful
tools that God gave us,
we will experience much more peace and joy.

The book of Philippians gives us an awesome promise!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6

According to this verse, we ought not to be stressed about anything. Instead, we ought to offer our anxieties up to God, leave them there, and have the sweet peace of God guard our hearts and minds.

That sounds great; doesn’t it?

It does sound great, but like I said, we must practice it to experience it… praying, submitting, giving thanks, and allowing God to permeate our beings so we might live lives of peace.

Are you praying? Are you praising?

Let’s make it our goal to FILL
our days with prayer and praise.

When anxiety and worry come, let’s take out our weapons and use them. Let’s pray. Let’s sing. Let’s praise God. Let’s change our perspective and think about the God who loves us tremendously and desires GOOD things for us.

Take Action: When stress comes, try not to focus on your stress. Place your focus on God and put it into action through prayer and praise.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 29: Make Time for Friendship and Fellowship

Friendship and Fellowship - The Cozy Nook

Friendship and fellowship are integral parts of our lives, parts of our lives that need to be kept well-maintained.

If we want to battle stress,
we need the support of others.

We need friends to come alongside of us and run this race called “life” with us. Life is tough! We need encouragement, advice, wisdom, love, and strength from others to keep us going strong!

Friendships are the glue of life. God intends us to live life with other people. We are meant to live in community. When we feel alone or weak, life feels a lot more stressful. It isn’t fun to feel destitute.

Friendships encourage our hearts
and help lift our loads.

Not only do our friendships help us to feel supported, they also provide an avenue where we can bless others. When we look outside ourselves and pour into other people’s lives, we are blessed. We are living with a greater purpose, outside of our own lives. Blessings others feels good!

The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 11:25

We live in a dark world. I am continually grieved by all that happens on the earth and the way our society is going. Hearing the news, reading articles, and seeing others’ struggles can be very disheartening.

In order to flourish we must pursue fellowship!

We must be an active part of a community that shares the same sacred values we do. Spending time with people who love God and His ways encourages our hearts as we continue to press forward in a very imperfect world that awaits redemption!

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 11:24-25

Sometimes when we are stressed, it is easy to draw back and become a bit more focused on ourselves. However, that is really the opposite of what we need. Isolating ourselves will only increase our stress, as we substantiate our feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and disappointment.

Take Action: Make some time for friendship and fellowship this week! If no one is initiating with you, be the initiator! Ask a friend out for coffee. Invite a family over for fellowship. Call someone. Do something that will strengthen your ties with people.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 28: Spend Less, Stay Within Your Budget

Spend Less, Stay Within Your Budget - The Cozy Nook

It’s never fun to be in debt.
It’s never fun to feel like your spending is out of control.
It’s never fun to feel the weight of bad choices.

Our financial decisions affect our peace a lot. When we are struggling financially it wears on us. In life there are a lot of financial demands, but we can do our best to stay within our means. In the end we will feel less stressed.

Staying out of debt on a regular basis
promotes mental and emotional peace.

Daily we make choices that can make or break the bank. It may feel good when we are spending the money, but buyer’s remorse sometimes settles in all too quickly, and we realize the effect of our actions.

Living in the black ink helps us feel secure and more in control. We feel we are able to handle life because we have a reserve.

We need God’s grace and wisdom to help us make choices each day that will carry us from paycheck to paycheck with more finesse.

Spending less and staying within your budget really boils down to the various financial decisions,
big and small, you make each day.

What can you do to help your financial situation, baby step by baby step, that will provide you with more peace?

Take Action: Be conscious of the financial decisions you are making today. Remember that your ultimate goal is to live more financially secure so you can be less stressed and more refreshed!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 27: Plan Meals

Plan Meals - The Cozy Nook

It’s 3:00 p.m—What are you making for dinner?

It’s grocery shopping day—Do you know what food you will be serving for the next week?

It’s a full and busy day today—What are you feeding your family?

For me, unplanned meals = STRESS.

I can not adequately plan for the needs of my household without thinking, in advance, about the food I will prepare for my family.

Planning meals helps us avoid unnecessary stress as we are able to buy the food we need and keep better focus during the day without feeling the last-minute stress of, “What am I going to feed my family?”

If you feel stressed when you go grocery shopping and stressed as you try to provide meals for your family, I would highly suggest you try planning your meals. I believe you will see it is of great value!

I always plan a week’s meals before I go grocery shopping. I look at what I have on hand already, browse the sales flyer at the store, and also consider what the family is interested in eating. Planning the week’s meals helps me make sure I have everything on hand when I am ready to cook and try to avoid extra shopping trips throughout the week.

I also try to plan the day’s meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) either the night before or in the morning and write them on our whiteboard. This way the family knows what I will be serving for the day and prevents the kids from adding extra stress by asking me (several times a day!), “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

I really don’t think you can go wrong by planning meals. It provides a little more
order to our very full lives!

Take Action: Before you go grocery shopping this week, try to plan your meals in advance. If you aren’t used to planning a day’s meals in advance, try it, and try to post it somewhere where everyone can see!

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 26: Create Routines.

Create Routines - The Cozy Nook

Routines make a world of difference in our lives. Without them, life can be haphazard as we forge our way throughout the day without focus and a plan for our vision.

Spending time on creating and tweaking your daily routines is well worth your time and energy!

You can avoid the stress of living “by the seat of your pants” by using routines to guide you through more peace and productivity.

As I have mentioned before,

Routines are special.
They provide stability and focus – a spine for the day.

Routines are as simple as wake time, meal times, and bed times. These things happen every day around the same time. When we know what to expect, we know how to act and aren’t caught off guard.

You can plan routines according to:

  • the time of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, hourly…
  • tasks: chores, projects, hotspot cleanup…
  • major responsibilities: homeschooling, church service, work…

Think about things you do repetitively,
throughout the day or week,
and flesh out routines for them.

“You save time and energy and reduce stress by skipping the mental to-ing and fro-ing of making a decision, and slide directly into getting the task done. Instead of creating each day from scratch, routines create a framework of small decisions you no longer have to make—so you have more time to devote to things that matter.”
Source: Better Health Mag.

Recently I posted about my morning and evening routines and also my general homeschool routine. I hope you find them helpful.

Take action: Work on creating or tweaking one routine this week. Think of where you need help the most.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

Be kind.
Be humble.

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?

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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.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 18: Lead a Quieter Life

Lead a Quieter Life - The Cozy Nook

“that you also aspire to lead a quiet life”
1 Thessalonians 4:11

Life sure is noisy these days!

Smart phones.
The internet.
The news.
Social media.

Our days are flooded with noise,
and without a good amount of quiet,
we will surely feel stressed!

We are bombarded with information and news daily! We are the ones who choose how much of that we will hear and how much will affect us.

Even if it is good, too much information can be overwhelming. It is hard to remain focused when our minds and emotions are spinning.

On the other hand, if it is bad news, it makes the situation all the more stressful. Bad news not only provides more data for our brains to compute; it also opens the avenue for heartache and disappointment which also causes stress!

How can you live quieter days?

Is the news stressing you?
Ebola, ISIS, storms and tragedies galore! It really can be too much for the human heart; can’t it? Sometimes I wonder if we really are meant to know about everything that is going on in the world. Sure, it’s good to be aware of things, but living your life with a continual awareness of the grand spectrum can be overwhelming!

Is social media discouraging you?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I like the ability to connect with people, but I don’t always like pictures, news, and articles being flung at me… of which I really had no choice.

Are you reading too many articles and pinning too many ideas and not giving enough time just to LIVE your life?

Think about what stresses you
and how you can quiet your days.

Some suggestions:

  • Hide your phone for portions of the day
  • Schedule times for checking social media and blogs
  • Create an allotted time for internet time
  • Read and focus on articles that encourage you
  • Take a break from social media for a season

A friend shared this verse with me recently. It has always been one of my favorites:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
Isaiah 40:15

In returning to God.
In resting.
In quietness.
Therein lies our strength!

Take action: Try to live a quieter day today. Shut out some of the unnecessary, extra, or disheartening noise in your life.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 17: Let Go of What You Can’t Control

Let Go of What You Can't Control - The Cozy Nook

Sometimes we become stressed by things that bother us, things we can not control. We worry and fret and stew, all for naught.

Are there things in your life that you think about frequently that you really have no control over?

We must let go of the things we can not control,
lest they consume us.

Unfortunately, on this side of heaven,
Bad things will happen in the world.
People will hurt us.
Things will break.
Circumstances will disappoint us.
Good and evil will continue to contend against each other.

The only thing we really can control is how WE live.

When we consume ourselves with anything other than that, we open the door for stress to enter. Busying our minds thinking about things we can’t control really is a waste of our time and energy.

Let’s focus on the things we CAN influence
and where we CAN make a difference!

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Reinhold Niebuhr

Take Action: Do your best to focus your energies on what you CAN control today. Live the best you can and let God do the rest.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days of Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 16: Let’s Review

31 days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 500

I don’t know about you, but I get a bit overwhelmed when a lot of information is thrown at me, and here I am throwing a lot of information at you! I realize that tackling stress in 31 days isn’t really as easy as it sounds. Sure, it may be easy to write about it in 31 days, but to change habits… That’s another story.

I’m halfway through the series now, and I thought it would be good just to take the time to review the list of topics I have covered so far.

Your challenge is to find ONE on the list that you really want to improve, and make a plan of action.

For the second half of the series, I will be covering topics relating to contentment, relationships, time, money, and walking with God. I hope the rest of the series will encourage you to continue in your journey to live a less stressed and more refreshed life.

I’d love to hear from you if something from this series has blessed you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 15: Say Good Things

Say Good Things - The Cozy Nook 

“I’m stressed.”  Do you ever find yourself saying that?

Years ago a friend of mine caught me saying that often.

“Lisa, do you realize what you are saying? Do you realize how often you say, ‘I’m stressed’?”

It hit me. Ouch. Truth. I did say it a lot, and how did I expect those words to help me? Maybe I hoped people would see that I was feeling stressed and have compassion on me. Maybe I thought it would feel good just to say those words and get it out of my system.

Whatever the case, saying, “I’m stressed” doesn’t really help much.

Words have power,
and what we say becomes truth.

I’m fat.
I’m ugly.
I’m weak.
I’m sick.
I’m bad at that.

All of these words confirm in our hearts what we really think about ourselves and our situations.

The Bible says that our words
have the power of life and death in them.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21

There is a famous saying:

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Our words are a large part of what we will do
and who we will become.

Yesterday I wrote about thinking good things. Obviously that starts the chain reaction. If we aren’t thinking we are stressed, we probably aren’t going to say it. An important step, therefore, is to keep our minds cleansed.

However, if we are struggling with our thoughts, we can try to catch them from manifesting themselves by preventing destructive words from coming out of our mouths.

May we strive towards speaking words of life,
words that will cause our stress to dissipate

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Ephesians 4:29

Take Action: Be conscious of the words you are saying today and make a strategic effort to say good things.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 14: Think Positively


Keeping our minds positive is a challenge in this world. Bad news and drama fills our lives daily, and it takes work to think positively.

If we allow bad thoughts to reside in our minds,
we will definitely feel stressed,
and we will have a hard time moving forward.

Our lives are a mixture of good and bad. We choose what consumes our minds – the good or the bad.

The Bible exhorts us well on the topic.

“…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Philippians 4:8

It takes a conscious, proactive effort to think about the things that are noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of good virtue, and praiseworthy.

We aren’t just to think about these things casually. The Bible encourages us to MEDITATE on them. When I think of meditating about something, I think about having my mind DWELL upon a topic.

Is your mind concentrated on goodness throughout the day? Negative thinking weighs us down and causes stress!

If we want to be less stressed,
we must walk away from negativity
and pursue positive, energizing thoughts!

Take Action: Force yourself to get rid of the junk in your thought life today and dwell upon the good things around you.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 13: Deep Breathing and Relaxation

Deep Breathing and Relaxation - The Cozy Nook

Stress has been my “friend” for years, and my quality of life was worsening. I have told some people that I literally felt like I was living with my nerves on the outside of my body. I was in high gear continually, felt fatigued and emotionally sensitive, and had other physical challenges as well.

After seeing the cardiologist this summer and hearing he wants me to have open heart surgery, I decided it was time to read, research, and do all that I can to take care of myself… with the hope that I can avoid or at least postpone my surgery.

Recently I have discovered
the benefits of deep breathing and relaxation.

Deep breathing and relaxation recalibrates me. It resets my mind and body and makes me feel less frantic and more stable.

Stressed people tend to breathe shallow breaths.

“As your fight or flight system activates and your breathing speeds up, you start shallow breathing throughout the day. This means that those with anxiety are shallow breathing for minutes and hours on end, and this creates another problem: hyperventilation.”
Calm Clinic

“Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.”

How often do you purposefully relax, without thinking about something or busying yourself with some task?

Purposeful relaxation sessions make you sit down, without interruptions and information flooding your mind, and just relax. Breathe deeply, clear your mind, and just relax.

Deep breathing really involves your belly, not your chest. If someone told you to take a deep breath, what would you do? My tendency is to breathe with my chest, not with my belly.

Good, deep breathing involves your belly!

When you inhale, your belly should expand. When you exhale, your belly should collapse inward. This is technically called, “diaphragmatic breathing”.

There are various ways you can experience
the benefits of deep breathing.

  • You can do short sessions of deep breathing and quickly reset your system.

“The parasympathetics, on the other hand, control your rest, relax, and digest response. When the parasympathetic system is dominant, your breathing slows, your heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers as the blood vessels relax, and your body is put into a state of calm and healing.

Putting your body in a parasympathetic state is easy. Pick a count for your inhale and a count for your exhale that is a little longer. I like starting with 2 counts in, and 4 counts out, with a one count pause at the top of the inhale and a one count pause at the bottom of the exhale.”

  • You can do longer sessions of deep breathing and relaxation, between 20 and 30 minutes long. The late Walt Stoll, M.D. was one person who believed that long sessions of relaxation were key to good health and can reverse the effects of stress and chronic illness. This page directs you to some good information regarding that.
  • You can also do exercise sessions, like yoga, which help you focus and strive to keep a steady, relaxed rhythm of breathing. I use an app on my phone called Daily Yoga. Most of the training sessions are between 10 and 30 minutes long, which is nice! There are many free sessions or you can pay and upgrade to get more options. The yoga sessions are focused on relaxing, breathing, and doing stretches/poses.

It is wise to be careful when you are reading about and practicing relaxation techniques. Sometimes the Christian community “throws out the baby with the bath water” because there is a lot of New Age and Eastern Religion/mysticism that can be involved with these types of activities. However, I do believe you can learn to deep breathe and relax without doing things like get in touch with your inner self, chant weird or repetitive phrases, or esteem some other god.

Take Action: When you are feeling stressed today, take a few deep breaths. Try to schedule a longer session of relaxation if you can.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 12: Wake Up Earlier

Wake Up Earlier - The Cozy Nook

My last post was about getting the proper rest we need. If we are getting good sleep at night, it is a little easier to push ourselves out of bed in the morning. We feel better rested, and our minds are at peace, knowing we went to bed at a good time and are now ready to start our days.

There is a lot of value
to waking up earlier in the morning.

Think about this scenario.

The morning comes, and you haven’t set your alarm clock because you knew you would just get up at a decent time or life would start happening in the house to get you up. Then it hits: Chaos! Demands are flying at you before you have time to breathe and you are drowning at the start of the day.

When we wake up simultaneously with the demands of the day, we do not give ourselves room
to breathe and succeed!

When we wake up earlier, we proactively start our days.
We choose what starts our days.
We choose how we start our day.

Waking up earlier enables us to avoid STRESS.
We feel better about our mornings
and better about our days in general.

I’m not going to tell you how early you should wake up. There are early risers who wake up at 4 and 5 a.m. and think the whole world should do the same. I have to say that I would get a lot more done if I woke up that early, but that just isn’t going to work for me (at least during this season of my life).

Now, that’s me. Everyone is different. “Early” is different for everyone, but Early is definitely a good thing!

Are you waking up early in the morning?
Do you think your mornings would run better if you woke up earlier?

When you wake up earlier than the flow of your home, you can get a lot accomplished.

You can:

  • Read your Bible
  • Look over your day
  • Pack lunches
  • Do chores
  • Read a book
  • Plan goals
  • Plan meals for the week
  • Blog or write
  • Exercise

There are all sorts of things you can do in the morning!

When you start your day with productivity and peace, life does feel a lot better!

Take action: Evaluate your mornings. Do they start with goodness or are they full of stress? You may need to consider waking up earlier in the morning. Set an alarm for tomorrow morning for a GOOD time.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 11: Get Proper Rest

Get Proper Rest - The Cozy Nook

Writing this challenge to become less stressed and more refreshed is just as much a challenge to me as it is to you. As I write about the various ways we can fight stress, I see where I fall short and need to improve.

Getting proper rest has always been a struggle for me. Balancing life’s demands, fighting my tendency to be a night owl, getting up with kids at night when they were young, staying up with kids later when they are older, etc., all have contributed to my continual battle to establish a good sleep schedule for myself.

Nonetheless, I plod on!

I have been making baby steps towards going to bed earlier, waking up earlier, and getting more sleep. When I do get the rest I need, I feel better and stronger.

Sleep is super important!
It’s a God-given recharge!

Are you getting enough rest? Your body will tell if you are getting enough rest. Some people can sleep for six hours, and they feel great. Others feel they need more sleep.

When I read about sleep, it seems that the general recommendation is about seven or eight hours, so I would recommend that anyone strive for that.

“Getting a good night’s sleep is an effortless technique to create longevity and health. Deep rest during the night helps you fight stress, maintain a healthy weight, and keeps your energy levels high.”
Kulreet Chaudhary, M.D.

I have read in various articles that an hour of sleep before midnight really equals two hours of sleep. Going to bed before midnight maximizes our sleep.

“This is an old saying but carries a large amount of truth. Your best quality of sleep is obtained when your circadian rhythm is at its lowest point (usually between 10 pm – 5 am). Therefore even if you obtain a good amount of sleep (7-9 hours), going to bed late is likely to lead to a large amount of your sleep being highly inefficient.”
Jason van Schie, Psychologist, People Diagnostix, WA

This article has 10 tips for getting better sleep and also emphasizes the importance of sleep before midnight.

Getting proper rest is essential to feeling
more refreshed and less stressed!

Take Action: Make it a priority to get proper rest each day. Focus on establishing good bed and wake times.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 10: Magnesium!

Magnesium and Stress - The Cozy Nook
A little bit of magnesium in a teacup goes a long way

“Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, a necessary co-factor for hundreds of enzymes, and the most critical mineral of all for coping with stress. Stress-related diseases which run rampant through modern society, like heart attacks and high blood pressure, are often accompanied by magnesium deficiency.”
Leo Galland, M.D.

I could have talked about magnesium on my last post about vitamins, but I felt it was worthy of its own post.

Perhaps you have read or heard about the benefits of magnesium. It seems like it gets a lot of hype these days. People are talking about the value of magnesium and how many of us are deficient.

I had read about magnesium helping stress and started taking it on my own. When I visited the cardiologist’s office this summer, the nurse and the doctor confirmed that magnesium does help with managing stress as well as other things, like regulating the heart rate.

If you are thinking of taking magnesium, read a little bit about it first and also about the various forms you can take. I have been drinking a cupful of magnesium “tea” every night before bed, and it really helps me. I feel more relaxed and believe it is helping my general state of health overall.

These articles are helpful:

  1. What Are Magnesium Supplements?
    This article talks about the importance of magnesium in the body and how it helps with various things like heart disorders, sleep troubles, restless legs, and athletic performance.
  2. Magnesium – The Missing Link to Better Health
    This article focuses on the book The Magnesium Miracle. It addresses why magnesium is important, what signs of deficiency are, and various forms of magnesium.
  3. 11 Miraculous Ways Magnesium Heals Your Mind & Body
    More about the benefits of magnesium!
  4. Web MD’s general article about magnesium

Natural Vitality sells good magnesium products and Vitacost also sells a similar version called, “Natural Tranquility”.

Take Action: Do some reading about magnesium and see if it might be good for you to add as a supplement.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 9: Take Your Vitamins.

Take Your Vitamins - The Cozy Nook

Taking my vitamins is another area where I have fallen short over the years. Within the past couple months, I have become FAITHFUL at taking my supplements because my health truly depends upon them. I feel so much more stable when I take my vitamins and take better care of myself, in general.

When I think of vitamins, I think of them being like the glue that fills in all of the cracks and crevices – building material that is lacking in our diets and bodies that is necessary for good health.

Taking vitamins on a regular basis provides another boost to our bodies that helps us be strong and manage each day’s needs more successfully.

I would highly recommend taking a good multi-vitamin and B complex. When I started taking vitamins years ago, my baseline became a multi-vitamin, B Complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. A multi-vitamin helps fill in the general gaps. B Complex is known for helping our bodies cope with stress. I have had friends say how different they feel when they don’t take their B Complex!

It is important to buy good quality vitamins – companies who use pure and potent ingredients, do research, test their products, etc.

I buy my vitamins from Vitacost. They sell many good brands.

Whenever I buy vitamins, I do my own research. I read labels and read about the companies. If I am going to invest in vitamins, I want to make sure I am investing in something that is good for my body that will actually work!

If you are able to get a nutritional evaluation done to see what you are lacking that helps tremendously. Recently, my cardiologist did a comprehensive blood workup, and I found out some of my deficiencies. I am taking a handful more supplements now and find them helping me tremendously!

As you do your research and work with your doctor, you can also take what is good for your health issues. For instance, I have heart issues so I am taking fish oil and CoQ10.

If you have never been a believer in vitamins but are struggling with managing stress or with health conditions, I encourage you to try them!

Take Action: If you already own vitamins but are not taking them regularly, make a plan to start taking them! If you do not have vitamins, I encourage you to invest in some that may make a big difference in the quality of your days.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 8: Eat Healthfully

Eat Healthfully - The Cozy Nook 

You are what you eat.

You’ve probably heard that saying before, right?

You’ve probably FELT that saying before, too.

You know how it goes. You eat too much junk food and what do you feel like? JUNK!

It is true. What goes into our bodies has the potential to give good health or deplete good health.

If we want to battle stress and win,
we have to be strong,
and part of that is equipping our bodies to be healthy!

When we eat well, we strengthen our bodies and fight against disease. We can think more clearly and serve with more energy.

If you’ve done any reading about healthful eating, you have probably already seen that there are a lot of different opinions out there. Really, you have to do what is best for you!

You (with the help of God and your health practitioners) have to make the decision of how you will eat.

In general, I recommend eating a whole foods diet, staying away from processed and artificial foods. Eating fresh foods and plenty of produce helps! Do your best and let God do the rest!

Some ideas:

  • Eat breakfast
  • Add smoothies to your day – as breakfast or a snack
  • Eat a salad with your meals or as a meal!
  • Choose whole grains over refined grains
  • Eat organic when you can
  • Try some vegetarian meals

If you have health issues, do as much research as you can, pray, and talk with your doctor, and make the best decision you can!

Your body will tell you what works well, too!

Take action: What can you do today that would shift your eating habits to the healthier side?

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 7: Exercise!

Exercise to Manage Stress - The Cozy Nook 


It’s one of those things we hear about a lot. It’s one of those things that is on the top of our lists, ideally, but sometimes not in reality. For many years I have struggled with making exercise a continual habit. I have gone through seasons of being faithful and then neglecting this area of my life for too long.

I have read a lot of articles about how important exercise is and how it helps us – our bodies and our souls! It just always seemed hard to fit a regular exercise regimen into my life. I felt like I didn’t have time to exercise.

As the saying goes,
you have time for things if you MAKE time.

With my recent health and anxiety struggles, especially, I have decided that exercise can no longer be optional. It must become a regular part of my life.

The truth is: Exercise helps us manage stress!

That’s a great reason to exercise!

“Not only does it keep the heart healthy and get oxygen into the system, but it helps deplete stress hormones and releases mood-enhancing chemicals which help us cope with stress better.” Source

As one of my friends says, “I exercise so I can be a better mom”.

Don’t you want to feel less stressed and more refreshed? Then put exercise on your list!

There are many ways to incorporate exercise.

First of all, if you having a hard time thinking about how you can exercise regularly, start small.

  • Do short workouts. I have some ideas here in my post about quick workouts.
  • Park the car further from the store so you can walk more.
  • Take the dog for a walk, daily, starting with shorter walks and build up to longer durations. I am starting to think this is just one more reason why our puppy is part of our household.
  • Plan a segment of active chores together so you can get your heart beating for a while, like vacuuming, washing the floors, and scrubbing the tub.

Another thing you can do is involve someone else in the process.

  • Get an accountability partner.
  • Grab your husband or one of your children and go for a walk or a bike ride.
  • Schedule exercise time with a friend.

Of course, there are also a myriad of exercise routines, classes, and videos out there!

It is important that you do what works well for you, according to your situation and your health needs/concerns. Do your research!

Make sure you check with your doctor if you have questions about participating in any sort of exercise routine.

Take action: Why not start exercising today? Challenge yourself to add something to your day today that will help you cope with stress and improve your quality of life. Don’t forget… when you fail, just try again!

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