Have you noticed that it’s May? The flowers are out, the birds are singing, and Spring is in the air. And Spring cleaning isn’t something that should just happen in our homes. Each Spring we can de-clutter our lives to eliminate the stress and make sure we’re maximizing our time with those we love the most.
Here are seven tips to help you de-stress today so you have a more peaceful month of May.
1. Start Your Day with a Simple Prayer. I can’t say this one enough. Here’s why. Have you noticed that a good start to your day will often affect how the entire day goes? Then grab the reins on your day by choosing to start it well. Try saying this simple prayer as you rise out of bed and before your feet even hit the floor: “God, I give this day to You. Help me to please You in all I do.” That simple prayer will remind you what matters most in life and may help you, throughout the day, to remember where your priorities are. Of course, I believe the longer you spend in prayer, the better your day will go. But start with something simple and you may notice how the conversation with you and God grows from there.
2. Get Outdoors. We live in a world in which it’s easy to hibernate, stay inside, and do everything from shopping to socializing to “attending” worship services online. Don’t do it. Especially if the sun is out or the wind is blowing or even if you’re experiencing rain. Walk whenever you can, breathe the air that is around you, notice the flowers, listen to a birdsong, admire the sunset. Appreciate the colors of nature. It will freshen your soul and remind you that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). Getting outdoors and “walking with God” is a part of every single day of mine. And now I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s how I destress, stay healthy, and keep a happy heart. As you get outside, thank God for your health, for the ability to breathe and move and see and respond to what is around you. And don’t forget to smile as you are outdoors. It will improve your attitude, your health, and your stress level
3. Find Your Resting Place. There’s nothing more refreshing than a few moments of silence. Can you find it? Get creative. Walk to a nearby park. Sit in your car during your lunch break if you have to. But get quiet. Let your thoughts slow. Listen for your heartbeat. And relish in the sounds of silence – even if just for a few moments. Studies show an occasional pause or “slow down” (think: intentional calmed pace or a mid-day nap) will decrease your stress level and increase your overall productivity.
4. Find Your Song. The Bible says, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you…” (First Thessalonians 5:18, NASB). I like to paraphrase that by saying “In all things sing.” Sing out a thanks to God that you’re alive. Practice the art of praising God for everything that comes your way, good or bad. Once you become a person who is able to give thanks “in everything” you are living out God’s will for you. And there is no one more joyful and content on this earth than one who is living out his or her divine purpose. Also, the more you sing, the less you stress, worry or complain.
5. Clear the Clutter. I had my daughter take me through a “What Not to Wear” session in my closet (AGAIN!) and although it looked like she completely cleaned me out (five trash bags full of clothing items to donate to the thrift store), I can’t tell you how nice it is to have more room in my closet and far less choices each morning. It makes me happy just walking in there. More space often equates to less stress. What can you toss or just straighten up? Creating some open space in your home, car, or on the top of your desk at home or work will do wonders for your stress level.
6. Limit the List. We constantly say we have too much to do, while we continue adding to our to-do list. So start limiting your list. Plan open space in your schedule by refusing to book every time slot. Reschedule appointments into a less busy week if you can see the overload coming. Prioritize the few people that matter most in your life and let them have the appointments over others who haven’t yet earned your time. Psalm 90:12 says “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” If you realize you have limited days on this earth, you will be more careful to spend them wisely. Limit your list by focusing on the few things that matter most in life: your relationship with God, your responsibility to care for what He’s given you, and the legacy you will leave behind for those you love.
7. Toss the Trash. Is there something in your life that’s harming you or others? If so, you probably already know what it is. An unhealthy addiction? A tendency to gossip? An attitude that is critical more than it is helpful? Maybe it’s just something that distracts you from doing what you really need to do. There’s no better time than now to just toss it. Make it your Spring Challenge and start living lightly and freely.
Which of these will you do today? Let me know in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.