12 Tips for Keeping Your Peace

It’s mid-January and already we’ve had a pretty bitter winter.  No wonder so many folks like to head south and escape to warmer climates. For those of us who live in more northern longitudes, rough weather certainly causes the stress barometer to rise, doesn’t it? We all battle stress and anxiety at some level and we each have different coping mechanisms. This week I’m sharing tips on how to maintain our peace and sanity during extra stressful times. Some of them you might already know but are you practicing them? Here we go with 12 ways to stay peaceful during stressful times.

1. Take a deep breath. Oxygen helps calm the body and signals the brain to counter the fight or flight reflex. 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 belly.                                              

2. Make time for solitude. Being around people all day long can be stressful. Talking drains our energy. Instead of picking up the phone to vent your frustrations, try talking to God. He always has a listening ear. Unless of course, it’s about work. In that case, you need to call somebody.

3. Slow down. The fast pace of life today is not only unhealthy, it is actually dangerous to our hearts, our brains, and our 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. God’s pace is slow, have you noticed?

4. Pray and meditate. The time to pray and meditate is BEFORE things get chaotic. 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. Turn off the electronics. Learn to appreciate quietness. It might feel awkward for a short time if you’re used to constantly having the radio or television blaring, but soon you will begin to enjoy it and your ability to hear from God will increase. Guaranteed.

6.  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.

7.  Watch the negative self-talk. Capture the thoughts running through your mind at any given point during the day. Are they positive? Or are you 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, time to replace the old recording with positive affirmations instead. You will get it all done. You will not go crazy and you can handle whatever life brings at you.

8.  Repeat a favorite prayer or scripture verse. Some good ones are:
–  “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.”

9. Keep your focus on God. He is bigger than all our problems and cares and He doesn’t want you to be stressed out either. Remember this verse:
“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”  (Isaiah 26:3)

10. Be gentle with yourself. Realize you are only human. You were not built to do it all. Take a hot bath. Treat yourself to a nice cup of hot tea or cocoa. Put your feet up and read a few pages of that novel you’ve been wanting to finish. Take the pressure off  by doing little things within your control.

11. 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.

12. Forgive yourself and others. Unforgiveness is one of the main reasons we lose our peace. Ditch the false guilt. Realize you (or they) did the best you (or they) could under the circumstances and tomorrow is a  new opportunity to practice and to let go.

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. Post a comment and let us know what tips you use to keep your peace and until next time – keep looking up!

The Second Gift of Christmas – Peace

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, how can we find the true gifts of Christmas? This is the second week of Advent and the focus is on the gift of Peace.

Peace can be elusive at times, can’t it? Scripture exhorts us to “Seek peace and pursue it.” In other words, it is not something that happens by itself. We have to take ACTION to achieve peace.

I have resolved to have peace during the stressful times of the holiday season and end of the year. For me, that means cutting back on activities, gift buying, wrapping and giving, downsizing my decorating and spending more time at home and with God. It is all too easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the world so I need to make a conscious decision to pull away.

Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and pressured by it all? If so, what kinds of actions can you do today, dear one, to bring more peace into your life? An easy thing to do is to sit down, take a deep breath, and behold the gift of Peace. Envision the shepherds on the hill so many years ago gazing at the star in the sky. Or reflect on the manger scene with the Christ child.

Peace is within us if we stop to observe. Until next time, may the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as you surrender to Him this season.

React or Respond?

Each day, I have choices to make; choices that will either bring peace or strife into my life. What will I allow in my life today? Will I respond or react to stressful situations and people ?I have a responsibility to live a life of peace. I am responsible. I cannot blame others for the stress and turmoil. It is how I choose to deal with issues.

It seems that God is trying to teach me yet another lesson: how to handle my loved ones when they are stressed.

This week, a loved one came by and I was determined not to react to this person for any reason. I could feel the arrows of the evil one being shot at me one after the other. Sometimes the enemy uses even our loved ones to get to us, and we are not even aware of it. I said out loud “I am going to stay calm. I am not going to react to you.” It was like the enemy was goading me on, or perhaps God was testing me.

Yet, I stood firm. I mustered all the courage I could and responded in a calm, but stern voice. “You are upset about something and that is something you need to deal with instead of taking it out on me. I am not doing anything.” Now, you must know, that this was not my usual response. Normally, I play the victim role and then feel false guilt for “making the other person mad.”

We are each responsible for our emotions; someone cannot “make us mad”.

Today’s scripture reading was this “Therefore dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if by the power of the Holy Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 8:12-14)

Will you choose to react or respond today? If you want more peace and less strife in your life, I encourage you to let the Holy Spirit guide you,and as it says in James, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Until next time, peace!

React or Respond?

Each day, I have choices to make; choices that will either bring peace or strife into my life. What will I allow in my life today? Will I respond or react to stressful situations and people ?I have a responsibility to live a life of peace. I am responsible. I cannot blame others for the stress and turmoil. It is how I choose to deal with issues.

It seems that God is trying to teach me yet another lesson: how to handle my loved ones when they are stressed.

This week, a loved one came by and I was determined not to react to this person for any reason. I could feel the arrows of the evil one being shot at me one after the other. Sometimes the enemy uses even our loved ones to get to us, and we are not even aware of it. I said out loud “I am going to stay calm. I am not going to react to you.” It was like the enemy was goading me on, or perhaps God was testing me.

Yet, I stood firm. I mustered all the courage I could and responded in a calm, but stern voice. “You are upset about something and that is something you need to deal with instead of taking it out on me. I am not doing anything.” Now, you must know, that this was not my usual response. Normally, I play the victim role and then feel false guilt for “making the other person mad.”

We are each responsible for our emotions; someone cannot “make us mad”.

Today’s scripture reading was this “Therefore dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if by the power of the Holy Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 8:12-14)

Will you choose to react or respond today? If you want more peace and less strife in your life, I encourage you to let the Holy Spirit guide you,and as it says in James, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Until next time, peace!