Category Archives: Tips to Avoid Stress

A Surprising Benefit to My “Favorites” Notebook

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Years ago I bought an 11×8½ spiral notebook with a photograph on the cover of a creek running through woods.  I decided that notebook would be my “Favorites” notebook. On the inside I wrote, “Favorites—things I liked when I saw them”. 

My “Favorites” notebook starts off with the poem “Refuge” by Lew Sarett, and is followed with passages by Faith Baldwin from her book Living by Faith, and Robert Traver from Anatomy of a Fisherman. The notebook includes other poems; bits and pieces which stuck out as I read different books and articles; newspaper clippings about nature, history, movie reviews; song lyrics, and people stories—people following their creative muses, and people acting in commendable ways towards people and animals. 

I have a few scrapbooks, too, but those I meant to keep in order, and that order got lost in the shuffle of the years (and never taking the time to sit down and arrange photos properly). Most of the scrapbook pages are faded, and not appealing to work at. Somehow it’s easier and more pleasing to me to keep my favorites notebook going. Plus spiral notebooks are meant to be written in, so I can add my thoughts to something I read. The scrapbook pages are not good for writing on.

I found a surprising benefit to keeping a favorites notebook: when I’m in a bad mood, my nerves are on edge, or my spirits are low, taking the time to look through or work on the notebook improves my disposition, calms my nerves, and raises my spirits.

©P. Booher

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Just Half-An-Hour (or how to get myself to do work I don’t want to do)

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One day last week I was perturbed that I had yard work to do. Usually I enjoy being outside in the warm weather, but not that day. I think the reason it bugged me is that I wanted to do some writing on the computer. But a look at the tall grass and weeds around the shoots of the peony bush confirmed I needed to spend time trimming and weeding.

At the moment the tug-of-war between the two activities escalated in my mind, the thought came, Give the trimming and weeding half-an-hour. If you don’t want to do anymore, that’s fine, you can quit. You’ll have been able to make some progress on it, anyway. But give it half-an-hour.

With that thought, along with a prayer for God to work on my attitude, I grabbed the grass shears and set to work. An hour-and-a-half later, I stopped, happy to have a nicer-looking front yard as my reward.

Since then I decided to use this tactic with other tasks which I need to do but don’t want to do. A half-hour is long enough to allow for some progress but not so long that a lot of time is tied up in a project I don’t want to do in the first place. At the end of thirty minutes, I can reevaluate where I stand. I can either continue, or quit and do something else.

©P. Booher

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It Takes Faith–A Word About An Empty Tomb

“…the women…found the stone rolled away  from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”  (Luke 24:1-3) (NIV)

Although I didn’t go to church often when I was growing up, I knew Easter Sunday was the day Christ rose from the grave. I didn’t connect that fact to anything else in my life–it was just a “religious fact”.  Christ came; He died; He rose. The tomb is empty. That’s good–but what’s that mean?

Years later, that empty tomb–that knowledge I have by faith–gives me hope. The empty tomb gives me hope because Christ was (and is) too big to be held by it. If He is too big for that, He is certainly big enough to handle any and all of the problems I have now or ever will have. He is not at all bothered by any of my problems. He is not fretting about what to do. He has it under control!

The empty tomb gives me hope because it means Christ is living. If He is living, I can reach Him through prayer. I have access to all His comfort, all His kindness, all His understanding of me. He can give guidance, ease my fears, cancel my worries.

That is what the empty tomb means to me now. It takes faith.

©P. Booher

 

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The Abby Chronicles–I Have A New Job!

abby-ready-to-write

Here I am, ready to write my story!

Chapter XXI

The younger human has been spending more time sitting on the couch. That’s where she was awhile ago. Knowing her lap is soft and warm I jumped onto her lap. She was talking and listening to a long device. She held one end to her ear and the other end to her mouth.

Sometimes when she was listening she sighed and seemed stressed. The older human asked if she was “on hold” (whatever “on hold” is, I don’t know). The younger human said, “Yes, I’m on hold”. I snuggled up closer to her and nudged her hand with my head. She got the message and started petting my head. I started purring. She made comments about how nice it was to pet me. I noticed her stress level went down (cats notice that kind of thing) as she continued to pet my fur. I realized I gained a new job: help the human stay calm when she’s “on hold”.

I have a lot of jobs—no wonder I need my beauty sleep! 🙂

Abby

©P. Booher, secretary

 

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Do One More Thing

There are days I struggle with lack of motivation. Lately, however, a phrase keeps popping up in my head: “Do one more thing”. I think this is my mind’s combination of a quote from newscaster/explorer Lowell Thomas, “Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can”, and an article from literary agent Steve Laube’s blog. The article is titled, “The Devil is in the Procrastination”. You can find the article here: https://stevelaube.com/the-devil-is-in-the-procrastination/.

Regardless of the source, that four-word phrase, “Do one more thing” helps me accomplish a little more and decrease the stress in my life.

Its practical uses are endless: from filling the tea kettle before I go to bed so the next morning goes easier; to finding one more picture for a blog post; to organizing one more manila envelope of papers, to taking time to check the car’s windshield wiper fluid level (not good to run out while I’m out and about on a wet or snowy day!)

If I told myself “I need to do this, this, this, and this after I do that” it would be self-defeating. But mentally and emotionally I can handle, “Do one more thing”.

©P. Booher

Resources: I consider Steve Laube’s blog excellent for beginning and established writers. He and his team have much info. to share on writing and publishing. (www.stevelaube.com).

Newscaster/author/explorer Lowell Thomas packed a lot of adventure into one life. If you’d like to find out more, you can go to: https://britannica.com/biography/Lowell-Thomas.

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Low-tech Car Care Tips for Winter

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Author’s Note: Most of this is a repost from last year. Hoping this helps someone out this winter.

With winter weather here for people living in the Northern Hemisphere, the cold and snow bring challenges in everyday living, especially for those of us who don’t have garages.

Here are a few car-care tips to make life a little easier on cold mornings for those whose vehicles stay outside:

  1. If possible, park your car so the engine faces the morning sun. Even in very cold weather the sun warms the engine, taking a bit of cold-weather stress off the engine, and making it easier to start. This tip came from a co-worker of my mother.
  2. Many newer cars have a more aerodynamic design. For instance, the doors of my car are even with the body. There’s no overhang to protect the door seals from the elements. That presents a problem in winter when a storm hits: depending on the direction the snow or ice comes, the car doors freeze shut even though unlocked.  For awhile I sprayed cooking spray on the seals. Then a co-worker told me cooking spray deteriorates over time and draws moisture. He suggested buying a can of silicone spray from the auto parts store and applying that to the seals. While the silicone spray costs more than the cooking spray, it lubricates the seals better without breaking down. This is a case where spending a bit more is worth it!
  3. This next tip isn’t for the car, but for animals that may be around or under the car: Bang the hood with a broom—make some noise—before starting the vehicle. Cats are known to climb up around the engine, seeking warmth, bringing injury or death to themselves, and perhaps costly damage to the engine when it starts. Taking a few extra seconds to warn any cat or other animal will save the animal and your engine.
  4. This tip may help those who drive light-weight vehicles: put some weight in the back. I drive a light-weight front-wheel-drive car. Come winter, I throw a twenty or twenty-five pound sack of cheap kitty litter in the trunk. This “old-school” trick I picked up from my dad, who routinely put extra weight in the bed of his two-wheel-drive pickup in the winter.

©P. Booher

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Mental Reinforcement

These are days I need to keep mental “ammunition” close at hand. Here is some of the “ammunition” I use:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”        (Philippians 4:8, KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7, KJV)

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”     (Psalm 27:14, KJV)

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13, KJV)

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:33, KJV)

“Lo, I am with you alway, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

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

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, KJV)

P. Booher

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Love is—

People have many different ideas about love. I used to think of it as a progression: you like someone, then you love someone. Other people think of “love at first sight”. Still others think love is weak, powerless, to be despised, a wimpy sort of emotion.

Check out this definition of love:

Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.

It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do.

Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.

Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.

Love never fails!

(I Corinthians 13:4-8, Contemporary English Version of the Bible)

Something I need to think about along with the definition of love:

“…God is love”.  (I John 4:8, NIV)      NIV–New International Version

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)

“We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19, NIV)

 

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

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Keeping Spirits Up in Difficult Times

Years ago I saw a pattern in my mood: it nose-dived in winter. At first I believed I was at the mercy of my moods, so I suffered through them.

Finally, after some desperate prayers,  I took steps to mitigate the moodiness. Here are some things I did, along with principles I use to guide me now:

  • Every November or December I start feeding the chickadees, cardinals, titmice, doves, finches and other birds that call this spot home. I derive joy out of helping them, and that boosts my spirits. Principle: help someone else, even if only a bird!
  • I write letters or send cards to people. I’ve practiced this kind of  “social distancing” for awhile. My mother used to write monthly letters to relatives, BPC (Before Personal Computers). Now when people tell me receiving cards or letters lifted their spirits, I smile inwardly. They don’t realize the first spirits lifted were mine! Principle: Keep in touch with the people you care about; it takes your mind off yourself.
  • I plant flowers. In years past I planted crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths bulbs for spring blooming. Knowing the bulbs come up every spring gave me something to look forward to. This year, I bought sunflower seeds, zinnia seeds, and shasta daisy seeds. I’m ready for some color this summer! I’m looking forward to planting the seeds, and even more at seeing the flowers in bloom. Principle: Give yourself something to look forward to.
  • This fourth item is something I don’t do: I don’t look at the news much. It’s important to be informed, but being informed in times of crises can easily cross the line into being obsessed with knowing every new detail. One evening I saw an alarming prediction in the headlines.  As I was about to click on the link, the thought occurred to me: Is this news story going to give you peace and in turn, strength to meet your everyday problems? Or is it going to provoke anxiety and disturbing images in your mind? I chose to turn to a different website. In the current COVID-19 crisis, there is so much conflicting information I don’t know what details to believe anyway, which in itself heightens my anxiety. To keep on doing what I need to do I set limits on the amount of news and other media I take in. Principle: Don’t feel you have to know everything going on; give yourself a break.
  • Take time out every day to do something creative, just for fun. Whether it’s writing, painting, gardening, woodworking, or whatever, do it. Get away from the world and the stress, and lose yourself in the activity. Principle: Relax by doing something creative.

©P. Booher

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Flexibility–A Useful Tool

I wrote a post on flexibility in spending and saving money here.

Recently I thought again of how the attitude of flexibility makes life a little easier.

For three weeks or so, the grocery store I frequent had low supplies of bread. Before the pandemic I used to buy three or four loaves at a time to keep in the freezer. No more! Signs on the bread shelves stated the limit of one bread item to a customer. I put the loaf in the cart, then decided to hunt for bread substitutes. First, I spied frozen waffles. Good—I can eat them in place of toast. Then I saw a container of yellow cornmeal, and I remembered cornbread makes an excellent side dish with baked beans, spaghetti, pork chops, and many other foods.

Having flexibility, particularly in these times, is a wonderful way to avoid stress. You aren’t tied to a certain way to do things, or meet needs, but you have the willingness to look for substitutes. I’ve found the best way to have that attitude is to think in terms of generalities, not to be hung up on (for example) “Well, I’ve always eaten that kind of bread”, or “I always go to the movies Friday nights. What am I going to do?” Generalities say, “I like that bread, but maybe now’s the time to try English muffins; the store has a lot of those.” or “Yes, I like going to the movies, but the reason I do it is to de-stress from work. What other activity can I do that would accomplish the same thing?”

How are you using flexibility to live a little easier these days?

©P. Booher

 

 

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