Tips that help reduce stress

Stress, also known as the silent killer, can be defined as a state of mental or emotional pressure resulting from difficult or very challenging situations. Basically, it is life happening all around us and the seemingly insurmountable weight of it all. Life happens to everyone and everyone will (at some point) encounter stress. We all respond to stress in different ways but learning to structure our lives around it can ultimately be a matter of life and death, sickness or good health. Below are a few stress-reducing tips you can try.

Tip #1
Breathe, baby breathe
deep breathing(Photo courtesy of Google Images)
Deep breathing works. It really does. When I had my first child, the doctors and nurses told me to breathe, inhale through your nose (your diaphragm contracts and your lungs expand), and exhale slowly through pursed lips. This was my first introduction to deep breathing and over the years I have found that this technique has many amazing and powerful benefits, mainly being instrumental in reducing stress, improving sleep, optimizing your immune system and so much more. So when faced with a stressful situation, before you become unglued, take a moment to sit quietly and breathe deeply!

Tip #2
Pray, Meditate and Refocus
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There are situations that we will encounter that are beyond our human control. We are not super people with super human strength, contrary to popular belief. This life will get crazy and that’s when we need to take it to the Lord in prayer. Prayer, like deep breathing, works. It is the understanding that we cannot control or fix everything and everybody that brings us to our knees. Learning to pray sincerely, meditate honestly on God’s word and taking time to refocus on what’s really important in our lives, will reduces stress immensely.

Tip #3
Laugh
laughter(Photo courtesy of Google Images)
This one is fun. Laugh! Hard and loud and until your stomach cramps and the tears soak your cheeks. Laughter is your internal medication, its God’s natural remedy for a soul-ache. What Tylenol does for your headache, good old-fashioned laughter does for your soul’s-ache. It works!

Tip #4
Read a good book
reading a book(Photo courtesy of Google Images)

We can get so caught up in the hub-bub of life that we forget how relaxing it is to sit down with a steamy/hot romance novel or an inspirational self-help book that not only takes your mind off your problems but gives your brain the inspirational work-out that it needs. There have been studies that determine that reading is the work-out your brain needs in order to stay in its optimal health. Reading reduces stress and expands your knowledge; it’s a win-win situation!

Tip #5
Music calms the savage beast (called stress)
listening to music(Photo courtesy of Google Images)

This is another one of my favorite stress relievers. The power of music is remarkable in so many ways and has so many incredible benefits. We can actually calm that beast called stress by listening to our favorite songs, regardless of the genre. Listening to soft classical or jazz can help slow down your pulse and heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and decrease stress hormone levels, while up-beat tempo music can help boost your self-esteem, improve your mood, your concentration and so much more. So close your eyes and relax as your stress dissipates into the sounds and rhythms of melodic pleasure.

A few other stress reducers are, going on walks in the evening, riding a bike, working out, watching a sunset, singing, going to the beach, fishing, journaling, road trips, pampering yourself at a day spa, doing Yoga, sitting in a hot tub, going to the movies, volunteering, reading your bible, eating ice cream (or your favorite treat), simplifying your life and spending quality time with good friends and family. Can you think of other ways to minimize stress?
sunset(Photo courtesy of Google Images)

At whatever cost, reduce the stress and relax. YOLO (you only live once)!

Love,
Toni

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Four unique gifts to give yourself this Christmas!

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Being the last minute Christmas shopper that I am (I work better under pressure), I decided to add one more name to my shopping list before December 25th. Mine!

I felt like Santa Claus, literally, when I made my list and checked it twice, then a few more times after that. I made sure I had everything within reason for my husband and children. I was even blessed to surprise my family in Oklahoma this year with small gifts and tokens of love. Then I decided to add my own name because, for all the right reasons, I needed a few important things.

The first gift to myself is a lifestyle change. I’m overweight (a little) but it’s a little too much. So, no more dieting and fooling myself with temporary changes that don’t last. I’m giving myself the present of a new mind and outlook on health that will result in better eating habits, consistent exercise and a positive attitude. I will not have high blood pressure or diabetes because of my inability to change!

My second gift to myself is a resolve of inner peace. I will be at peace within myself regardless of what others say or do around me. I’ve had enough stress in my life for a lifetime and I will no longer allow that silent killer to destroy me!

My third gift to myself is a determination to fulfill my destiny. I understand that we all have different paths and not everyone in my life is going in the same direction as I. So, no more distractions, I choose to remain focused so that I may reach my destination of success.

My final gift to myself is love. I will love myself, period. I love myself enough to rid my environment of toxic people, to say no when I really don’t want to do something, to spend time alone enjoying a golden sunrise, and to fulfill my own dreams and not feel guilty about doing so.

The gifts to myself cannot be purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue or Dillard’s or any expensive department store for they are priceless and eternal. So while you’re in the giving spirit this season, remember to give yourself something of perpetual value that will change you for a lifetime. Happy Holidays to all and Merry Christmas to myself!

Love,
Toni

Reflections of my Soul (Healing)

Healing is an amazing thing! It is the process by which something that was once ill, sick, or deficient gets better (immediately or over time) and is restored. medicine

When we cough or sneeze or grab tissues for our runny noses, we want nothing more than to raid the medicine cabinet for Tylenol, or Advil or SOMETHING that will make us feel better. A simple headache is quickly remedied by over-the-counter aspirin, good rest, a good meal, or all of the above.

No one really likes to be sick, for real. Whether it’s a common cold, the flu, or something as serious as cancer or any incurable disease, people just want to feel better.

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I was thinking about healing the other day and couldn’t help but thank God for good health, both physical and mental. The interesting thing about sickness is that it can be either in your body or your mind. Some people may be in great shape physically but not well mentally or emotionally.
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But I have good news. I know someone who desires above all things that you and I live healthy, productive and happy lives. Just because your life AND my life may get chaotic at times, does not mean that it is supposed to be that way all the time! I heard a young lady say the other day, that her life was FULL of drama and that nothing goes right and that something crazy happens to her every day, literally.

I cringed.

There is no way on God’s green earth that I could live like that, not now, not EVER! Again, that is. There was a time in MY life that I had lots of drama and turmoil and stress and craziness until I decided I could no longer carry the weight of that type of existence. The stress of my BAD choices was trying to kill me and I decided that I was just not ready to die. So I surrendered my heart to God.

I asked the Lord to heal me. I wasn’t sick in my body, I was sick in my mind and emotions. I was terminally ill in my psyche and on the verge of death by way of suicide, when the Lord stepped in and began the amazing process of restoring my mental health. Through the ointment of his word (the Bible), positive speaking, positive music and definitely hanging around positive people, I gradually got better. I had to get away from those life-stealing, leeches and vampires that wanted to drain the very essence of my soul, those NEGATIVE TALKING AND NEGATIVE THINKING PEOPLE!!!

Today I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, physically, mentally, emotionally and yes, even spiritually.
Every area of your life can be restored. God uses several avenues by which to bring healing to our lives. He uses his word, (his son Jesus), he uses positive people, even laughter. Of course there’s medication (over-the-counter or prescribed), but most of all He wants us to experience an abundant life of peace, joy, happiness and love.

For financial, physical and mental health: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou may prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2

For mental health: ”For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (a stable mind).” 2 Timothy 1:7

For physical health: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3

For overall good health: “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Psalm 107:20

For mental/emotional health: “A merry heart (a happy heart/laughter) doeth good like a medicine” Proverbs 17:22

Love,
Toni

Reflections of my Soul (Happy)

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In 2003 I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy which is a paralysis of the facial nerve, causing muscular weakness in one side of the face. I panicked when I woke up one rainy spring morning, thinking that I was having a stroke. I was taken to the emergency room where the polite (and very handsome AND very short) Asian male doctor diagnosed my condition.

He told me that there was no known cure for Bell’s Palsy but that the nerve would heal itself over time.

Well, it has been ten years and the nerve in the right side of my face has not been restored completely. I still have a slight droop at the corner of my mouth and because of that, I am very self-conscious about smiling.

BUT, my family has been so good to me and their love for me is second to none. My fourteen year old daughter, Erica loves taking pictures with the new Cannon camera her father got her for Christmas. She’s always trying to catch me ‘smiling’ which, the moment I see her handy camera, I usually run away laughing and hiding my face in my hands.

“Stop it Mama,” she’ll demand. “Just let me take one picture without you covering up your mouth, please.”

Well, today I did, and was pleasantly surprised to see the inner reflection of my soul being displayed on my face. It was the look of Happy, which by the grace of God, I AM today.

I may not have everything I want, but I’m Happy. I don’t smile the way I used to but I’m healthy, in love with my husband, raising beautiful and amazing children and I’m Happy! I don’t need a perfectly aligned smile on the outside of my face because the smile I have in my heart and soul is priceless!

Love,
Toni