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
• 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)
Mix these together, and keep mixing, and mixing, until you collapse. Enjoy!
The 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
As 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.
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
Thanks for this wonderful post, Kelly!
I, myself, am trying to make getting to bed early paramount! I try to make 6:00PM my cut-off time for anything technology-related.
Take care 🙂
Thank you so much, sweet friend! And I totally am with you on getting to bed on time and turning of the technology after dinner. 🙂 I pray you keep your commitment and enjoy more rest and time with your precious family! 🙂
Kelly, I’m so sorry to hear of all the sickness you’ve had. We are very healthy people as well, and we get lots of rest, eat as healthy as we can, and we use natural treatments and remedies immediately to keep our bodies in good health. This past winter, though, has been a doozy for us as well. While I think that doing too much, too much stress, and not enough rest is part of the problem, I think there is something else at work too – and that is superbugs. This past winter my son has been sick almost all winter long, and natural treatments that normally work, did not even scratch the surface. He ended up with a severe ear infection, and double burst ear drums that caused him to lose his hearing for several days. The doctor, and nurse both told me that this year has been the worst year for seeing normally healthy people get very, very sick, and they believed it was because superbugs were to blame. The doc explained that superbugs are extremely “smart” and can adapt to incredibly difficult situations. So the healthy people who normally can get well with natural methods have been attacked by superbugs that have mutated and have dug their heels in, and typical treatments aren’t working any longer. The doctor had to prescribe my son an antibiotic with a superbug fighter in it. So… this is just something for you to consider! I sure hope that you and your family get over this sickness soon!
Thanks for sharing! I’m sorry you all have been having to go through the same thing with continual illness this winter. And yes, it’s definitely true that there are more resistant strains of viruses and bacteria now days. In my case, I think I really over did it this past year and ran myself down completely, so as a result, I definitely had no defenses left to fight the flu when it came my way. Of course, it is a really bad strain of flu this year, so I’m sure that is why so many people are getting knocked down by it even those with healthier immune systems. I appreciate your kind words and hope you all are feeling better soon too! 🙂 Blessings, Kelly
Lisa @ Cook Eat Paleo says
Thanks for this post, Kelly. It’s a great reminder to slow down. We all need it once in a while.
Thank you so much, Lisa! Yes, that is my new year (whole year) resolution – to slow down and reduce stress. I wish you a healthy, joyful 2015, sweet friend! 🙂
We are sisters soaring together in the spirit. Everything you’ve listed here is what I’ve built my ministry on: time and obedience to God, embracing the now moment and honoring the temple through proper nourishment, rest and exercise. I pray your strength as you manage your calendar, choose people over projects and rest in Him.
Thank you so much, Tyra, for taking the time to leave me a kind note! It’s always such a blessing to meet another sister in Christ! Thank you for your kind encouragement! Love and blessings, Kelly
I so appreciate your candor in sharing your experience. I just recovered from the “Recipe for Disaster” myself. The lovely mix of ingredients resulted in 2 days in bed with a migraine with vertigo–something I had gotten under control 4 years ago. We strive to do the best for our families and often forget to take care of ourselves. My last collapse was a reminder to gear down. Thank you for the pause suggestions!
Thank you for sharing your recent experience with this unsavory recipe! 🙂 I had a feeling that I’m not the only one who learns the hard way. I just prayed for you and am hoping that you are feeling better and that you’ll find more rest and less stress. 🙂 Thanks again for taking the time to leave a kind note! Blessings to you! 🙂 Kelly
Shanti @ Life Made Full says
You poor thing!! I am SO glad you’re feeling better! Great tips, btw! I think we ALL could benefit from giving ourselves some breathing room!
Thanks so much, sweet friend! I’m definitely learning the hard way to slow down 🙂
Beth Ricci // Red & Honey says
Right there with ya, friend. xoxo
PS. Such a gorgeous family shot of you and your hubby + boys!!
Thank you so much, sweet friend! xo
Sylvie | Gourmande in the Kitchen says
I couldn’t agree with you more! We’ve all gotten so used to glorifying busyiness that we are forgetting what an important part rest is of a healthy and happy life.
Thanks so much, sweet friend! You are so right. I hope you’re hitting that pause button too! I think it’s especially hard for bloggers. 🙂
Viveca from Adopt-Foster-Volunteer.com says
Loved this! Needed the reminder! I am having a fabulously low stress day brought on my LOTS of snow and a husband to hang out with (or at least downstairs enjoying his day off from the office too.) That is one of the many things I love about living in VA – the surprise of a “snow day.” I love California but at that sunshine kept me constantly on-the-go. Important to make down-time happen, whatever our circumstances. Cheers to all my friends in the snow and sunshine too!
I’m so glad that you’re taking the time to “pause” and enjoy life. Thanks for always being so encouraging. You are a blessing! 🙂
I love your five strategies for learning to rest, Kelly! They are so important and so simple … yet they can be so hard to remember during busy seasons. I hope you’re feeling much more rested! (And I hope you’ve bounced back from your pneumonia. Love you!
Thank you so much, sweet friend! Yes, praising God that I am feeling so much better! And making it more of a priority to REST! 🙂
Just wanted to comment on your wonderful blog. I’ve actually just taken 5 weeks off work after a busy first half of the year. It was just what I needed. I run a business which is all about rising above stress at work, but looking back I can see how much strain I was under! This time off has given me more time to just smell the roses and work ON my business rather than drown under the weight of it!
I’ll also read the blogs about saying no as it’s a skill we all need!
(Thanks by the way for commenting on my blog too – how did you know….?)
I’m so glad you were able to take a break and experience some much-needed refreshment! Saying “no” is probably the hardest discipline for me to remain consistent in, but every time I learn the hard way, it makes me more committed to saying “no” without feeling guilty. 🙂 We can’t do it all, and certainly not well! Thanks for taking the time to leave a kind note! 🙂 Blessings, Kelly