Habits that will Cut Your Stress in Half | Ashley Varner
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Habits that will Cut Your Stress in Half

Stress: the leading cause for my bad moods.  Recently, I embarked on a mission to reduce the stress in my life.  I looked at situations that caused me to be stressed and I realized that a few things caused me tons of stress.

What causes me stress?

First, if my house was messy you could almost guarantee that I was stressed out or in a bad mood.  It’s just impossible for me to relax if my home is messy.  I try to make my bedroom as peaceful as possible, but if the bed is unmade, I can’t sit in my favorite chair and read.

Next, I am really stressed out when I’m running late.  At the risk of offending anyone, I believe that when you’re late (especially chronically late), you are sending a message to other people that your time is more important than their time.  Because of that belief, I always strive to be on time or early.  Now that doesn’t always happen, and so when I am running late, I’m stressed.

Last, but most importantly, missing my time with Jesus in the morning means there is a 100% chance of stress.  This isn’t because I didn’t check it off my to do list, but because my time with Jesus CREATES the opposite of stress: it creates peace in my life.

Armed with that knowledge, I set out to reduce my stress.

Three simple ways I combat my stress from a messy home…

The first is making my bed every morning.  This isn’t a huge job, in fact, I timed myself and it takes about 40 seconds. But when my bed is made it becomes a catalyst for other actions. I’m more likely to pick up the dirty clothes on the floor and put them in the hamper and put my makeup away instead of leaving it on the bathroom counter.  I don’t understand how it works, but it does!

The second routine I complete takes a little planning.  Every evening, I gather all the dirty clothes in the house for that day and throw them in the washer.  I delay start the washer for 4am and when I wake up in the morning, I switch the laundry to the dryer.  While my boys are eating breakfast, I’ll take the laundry out of the dryer. Next, I set their clothes out for them to put away and I put away mine and my husband’s clothes.  This takes about 5 minutes to do because the load is so small. I’ve tried doing this every other day and it always ends up being too large of a load.  When I do this, it GREATLY reduces my stress.

The third chore I do daily is put the dishes in the dishwasher.  Like making my bed, this chore is short, but it starts a chain reaction.  I’m not going to fill the dishwasher and not wipe down the counters, so I end up with a sparkling kitchen at the end of the day.  It takes me about 15 minutes to do this.

Ways I combat my stress from running late…

To avoid running late, I have a list of things I do in the evenings to keep me on track.  I pick my clothes for the next day, put everything we’ll need by the door, I set my keys on the counter, make sure backpacks are packed and help my boys pick out their clothes.  Anything that can be done in the evening instead of the morning.  You’ll find that the more you do this, the more smooth your mornings are.

My two non-negotiable daily habits…

These last two habits are habits that create peace, they have nothing to do with saving time, in fact they take up the majority of my morning prep time.  But they are NON-NEGOTIABLE for me.

Time with Jesus. I spend at least a half hour to forty-five minutes in the mornings reading my Bible, praying, meditating on Scripture, and reading Christian books.  It’s a habit that takes time, so start small, maybe five or ten minutes.  Pick up a quick devotional like Jesus Calling.  Takes a few moments to read it, then talk to God about how you feel.  It doesn’t have to be lengthy.  I guarantee that after a few weeks of deepening your relationship with your Creator, you are going to start craving more and more time with Him.  And it’ll be worth it!

The last is gentle exercise.  I have always loved the stress-reducing benefits of exercise, but just recently I found a workout that is both challenging and peaceful. It’s a great workout for me because it’s calming but definitely makes me sweat!  It stretches my muscles, calms my mind, and helps me build strength. 

Stress is a normal part of life, but it is possible to put habits and routines in place to cut your stress way down so you can enjoy the family and the life that God has given you!

 

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