Hitting the Pause Button! 5 Strategies for Reducing Stress and Learning to Rest

Hit Pause 5 Ways to Reduce Stress

It’s February. It’s flu season. And frankly, we’ve had our share of wintertime chills and thrills around here, including all of us battling the flu, which surprisingly resulted in me developing pneumonia. Ugh!

It’s definitely been a long time since I’ve been this sick, which made me puzzled about what’s up? Bad flu season for sure, but could I have done something more to avoid getting so sick?

I found myself thinking … maybe if I had just eaten more perfectly, or had used essential oils more often, or had taken more supplements, or maybe …

Maybe, I just need to learn to hit the ‘pause’ button?

Personally, after spending a week in bed with the flu, followed by another week in bed with pneumonia, I’ve decided there’s one thing in particular that most of us neglect when it comes to our health – REST!

And by that, I mean resting both the body and mind by making it a priority to reduce the stress in our daily lives.

We’re busy people with busy lives and busy kids. Busy schedules rule our world. The calendar is crammed, the ‘to-do’ is too long and we often get into a cycle of constant activity that can lead to stress.

And when we’re stressed, we tend not to rest, which is what our bodies and minds need most.

Instead, we keep running the race at an ever-escalating pace – trying to ‘do’ even more to alleviate those feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out.

I know that’s what happened to me. I got caught in the vicious cycle of “too much to do and too little time to do it.” My constant on-the-go, must-do-everything lifestyle is what I blame for my recent health implosion, which led to a new recipe I’m hoping you never create …

Recipe for Disaster

Ingredients:
• 1 part too little sleep (be sure to get less than 5 hours per night)
• 1 part no rest (do not stop to rest in any form or fashion)
• 2 parts stress (keep piling on more, you’ll find the time somehow)

Instructions:
Mix these together, and keep mixing, and mixing, until you collapse. Enjoy!

10361331_10153845694909897_420223957285532849_nThe above recipe really works! But I seriously do not recommend it. See, here’s a pretty picture of me lying in a ball of hurt at the local urgent care while they run around trying to decide whether or not to admit me to the hospital. It’s not a picture I’m proud of, and not because I’m having a bad hair day.

It’s because I know how important rest is to maintain good health, and yet, I stubbornly thought I could just keep plowing away and take time to rest later. (Um, I think we can see that’s not a good idea.)

My point in sharing this is that I know that the majority of you sweet friends reading this are probably doing the same thing. Maybe not with as much reckless abandon as I’ve been … but still … you probably aren’t making “rest” a priority in your life, are you? Let’s be honest.

To promote good health and well-being, our bodies and minds need daily periods of REST, which comes not only from adequate sleep, but also from reducing stress in our lives so that we’re not living in a constant state of red alert.

So how do we hit the pause button?

5 Strategies for Reducing Stress and Learning to Rest

Below are five strategies I’m employing to reduce the stress in my life and make rest more of a priority. These aren’t the only methods for reducing stress and creating a more balanced lifestyle, but they are a great place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure how you can possibly find time in your schedule to rest.

1. Calendar Control
Rather than have our calendars rule us, we need to keep a tight reign on our calendars. Easier said than done, I know! But it has to happen so we can focus on what’s truly important, as well as reduce stress in order to safeguard our health.

Blocking out time for daily quiet time and family time has to be a priority that we schedule first in order for it to actually happen. Otherwise, those open blocks of time will always be filled with other seemingly urgent tasks that steal time away from what’s truly important.

2. Learning to Say NO!
Of course, taking control of our calendars often means learning to say no. That can be hard when there are so many good things that we feel we should to say yes to. But if we say yes to too many things, then we end up having to compromise in not being able to do everything with excellence, and we may end up compromising our health as well.

That’s why I appreciate these two posts from The Better Mom – Saying No to 100 Things and When Saying No is the Best Thing You Can Do.” These posts have helped me to see the wisdom in learning to say no. I hope these posts minister to your heart as well, if saying no is something you struggle with too.

3. Daily Quiet Time
Quiet TimeAs I’m learning to take control of my calendar, I’ve committed to making sure that each day I’ve scheduled time to quiet my body and mind through daily meditation on God’s Word and in prayer. This daily period of quiet time amid the chaos of day-to-day life not only helps me to hit the pause button, even more important, it brings me closer to God.

Personally, the times I’ve been the most overwhelmed, stressed and anxious, have been the times that I’ve found myself chasing after what I thought was best, rather than seeking God’s will for my life. Daily quiet time with the Lord reminds me that He is our refuge, and He promises to lift us up on wings like eagles and give us the strength and grace we need to accomplish everything He sets before us, whether big or small.

4. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Not only is the right amount of sleep important for feeling alert and energized, it’s also the key to good health in general. Many health benefits result from consistently getting a good night’s sleep, including less stress, reduced inflammation, increased mental acuity, better mood, an improved immune system, and a healthier metabolism.

Experts say adults should aim for 7-9 hours each night. I’ve found that one of the most important factors is to keep your bedtime and wake-up time consistent. This healthy habit helps stabilize your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which not only impacts your sleep-wake cycle, but also influences hormone release, body temperature, cell regeneration, and other important biological functions.

5. Be Present: Enjoy Your Real Life!
How many times do we zip through the day constantly staring at a screen? This alternate realm of existence – texting, social media, emails, blogs – is not only time consuming, it’s mentally exhausting! And, it often hinders us from enjoying the real people right in front of us.

That’s why it’s so important to Look Up! Online friends are great, but we need to make a conscience commitment to taking a break from technology, so we don’t miss out on connecting with the in-real-life friends and family around us. I’m sure you’ll find, just like I have, that you’ll experience far less stress and a lot more joy as you turn off the electronics and tune in to real life.

Walking with My Family

Finding balance is a process…

I wish there was a magic formula for maintaining a healthy balanced life, but achieving the right balance looks different for each person, although I do firmly believe that reducing stress and finding more time for rest are certainly key aspects in the process.

Personally, since following the above five strategies, I’ve gone from feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed-out, to experiencing more peace, hope and joy, as well as much more gratitude.

I’m learning once again, that reducing stress is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle! And of course, that daily resting in God and His promises benefits the mind, body and soul!

My hope is that you’ll join me in hitting the pause button, and making time to rest your mind and body more of a priority in your busy life too!

Wishing you peace, joy and good health, Kelly

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Soy-Free Teriyaki Chicken {Slow Cooker Recipe}

Soy-Free Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

Living a real food lifestyle often means having to say no to the convenience of packaged foods, since the vast majority contain less than “real” ingredients. Of course, it gets even more challenging, when you’re living a grain-free real food lifestyle.

Thankfully, there’s nothing that gets me more jazzed about cooking than a good challenge. And that’s how this easy and delicious recipe for Soy-Free Teriyaki Chicken came about – my love for taking favorite comfort foods and transforming them into healthy grain-free versions that everyone can enjoy whether they’re GF or not.

The secret to creating a delicious soy-free teriyaki sauce is using coconut aminos, which taste remarkably similar to soy sauce. The coconut aminos combined with all-natural sweeteners and a flavorful array of seasonings results in a thick, slightly sweet and tangy sauce perfect for topping slow-cooked chicken and veggies.

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken (Soy-Free)

And since this is a slow cooker recipe, it really couldn’t be an easier! There’s just one extra small step after the chicken and veggies are done cooking, and that’s thickening the teriyaki sauce on the stovetop by whisking in just a touch of arrowroot powder. Then, generously spoon your delicious homemade teriyaki sauce over the chicken and veggies for a classic meal your whole family will enjoy down to the last bite.

Teriyaki Chicken Take-a-Bite

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken (Soy-Free)

Yield: 5-6 servings

Ingredients

    Chicken
  • 2.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3-4 green onions, plus more for topping
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1/2 cup all-fruit apricot preserves
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos (I use this in place of soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder (used to thicken sauce)
  • Veggies
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 cups julienne carrots
  • 2 cups snap peas

Instructions

  1. Arrange the 3-4 stalks of green onion (a.k.a. scallions) along the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the chicken on top of the green onions.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the teriyaki sauce ingredients EXCEPT the arrowroot powder, until well combined. Carefully spoon the sauce over the chicken.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low 6-7 hours. During the last 30–45 minutes of cook time, add the veggies. Cover and cook on low until veggies are al dente (cook time may vary).
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies and chicken; transfer to a serving platter. Discard the green onion stalks.
  5. To make the Teriyaki Sauce: Pour the remaining liquid in the slow cooker through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl. Place 1 1/4 cups of the liquid into a small saucepan, discard the remainder.
  6. In a small prep bowl, add the 2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder and 2 tablespoons of water, mixing to create a slurry. Add the arrowroot mixture to the saucepan and whisk well to combine.
  7. Heat the teriyaki sauce over medium heat, whisking frequently until sauce thickens. Re-season to taste with additional sea salt and ginger, if necessary. Transfer teriyaki sauce to a serving bowl.
  8. Spoon the teriyaki sauce over the chicken and veggies. Then, top with a sprinkling of sliced fresh green onions, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

This teriyaki chicken and veggies dish is delicious all on it's own, or serve it over a bowl of grain-free Herb-Seasoned Cauliflower Rice, if desired.

http://thenourishinghome.com/2015/02/soy-free-teriyaki-chicken-slow-cooker-recipe/

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post include affiliate links, providing The Nourishing Home a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Of course, you are not obligated to use these links to make a purchase, but if you do, it helps to support this site and ministry. Thank you!

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Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili (Bean-Free!)

Bean Free Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

Whether you’re taking The Whole30 Challenge or not, this bean-free slow cooker sweet potato chili is certain to become a new family favorite. The combination of a spicy, meaty tomato sauce paired with the subtle sweetness of creamy sweet potatoes and an assortment of veggies creates an absolutely incredible chili. Talk about a bowl full of healthy flavor!

To create this classic wintertime comfort food in a bowl, I started with with my original Turkey-Veggie Chili and tweaked it to omit “the magical fruit” without changing its rich hearty flavor. In fact, we find this new new bean-free version to be even more flavorful!

Sweet Potato Chili

Of course, the best thing about this tasty recipe is that your slow cooker does most of the work. Just brown the meat and toss in the rest of the ingredients and go about your busy day knowing dinner will be ready without a lot of fuss. In fact, if you meal plan, you can schedule time to brown the meat ahead of time and then refrigerate or freeze it so it’s ready when you are – a definite time saver!

Oh, and one more bonus – this recipe makes a lot of chili! I always love it when I can get two meals from one cooking session. Simply store leftovers in the fridge for up to five days and reheat to enjoy.

Chili Close Up

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili (Bean-Free!)

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced yellow onion (about half a large onion)
  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey (dark meat is best!)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 5 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28-oz organic diced tomatoes (include liquid)
  • 28-oz organic tomato sauce
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • 2-3 tbsp chili powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 tbsp of all-purpose herb seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • Optional: 2 small zucchini, cubed (about 2 cups)

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in one tablespoon of olive oil for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Then add the ground turkey and sprinkle with one teaspoon sea salt. Continue to cook until meat is cooked through.
  2. Add the meat mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker. Then add all of the remaining ingredients, except the zucchini. Stir well to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on High for 5-6 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. Be sure to add the cubed zucchini during the last hour of cook time, if using.
  4. When ready, remove bay leaf and re-season to taste with additional chili powder and salt. Top with diced avocado and sliced green onions. (P.S. If you're not doing Whole30, I recommend a side of warm grain-free “corn”bread muffins. YUM!)

Notes

Time-Saving Tip: Sauteeing the onion and ground meat together prior to slow cooking increases the chili's depth of flavor. To make it quicker to put this recipe together, you can do this step ahead of time and keep the meat in the fridge (up to 3 days) or freezer (up to a month) until you're ready to make this recipe.

http://thenourishinghome.com/2015/02/bean-free-slow-cooker-sweet-potato-chili/

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