While some see the New Year as a new beginning, for most it can be a source of stress. Mounting credit bills and a few extra pounds from the holidays loom over us. Additionally, society puts on the pressure make half-hearted resolutions that are often forgotten by week three. Isn’t there a better way to start off the year? Here are some ways to lessen the stress associated with January 1st.
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Instead of doing a spring cleaning, why not start out the year with less stuff to worry about, therefore limiting your stress. This can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Make a goal to rid your home of a certain amount of items per week, so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by going through room after room in your home. You can even make a goal to rid your home of 2018 items by the end of the year. Imagine how less stressed you would feel you have over 2000 less items to manage!
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2. Remove the toxins
A body that is lacking the vitamins and other vital nutrients is a recipe for disease and dysfunction. A person who is involved in toxic relationships is also susceptible to dysfunction. Evaluate your close friends and family members. Do you tend to give more than you receive? Do you feel they take advantage of you or are consistently unavailable when you need them? Toxic relationships can take their toll. Romans 12:18 says, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.” It is one thing to resolve conflict and have healthy relationships; it is another to sacrifice your own wellbeing for the sake of avoiding conflict.
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3. Care for yourself
Often when I am stressed, I tend to take care of everyone else but myself. Working long hours leads me physically starving, emotionally drained and spiritually deprived. Make a point to care for yourself when necessary. Eat properly. Exercise regularly. Go to bed earlier. Most importantly, keep connected to the Vine. After all, a branch quickly withers when not connected to its source of nourishment.
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4. Make goals, not resolutions
I am a goal-oriented person. I receive great pleasure when I set a goal and then rejoice in my success when I meet it. But a resolution are much more difficult. Often resolutions are vague and general, leaving little room for success. Make small goals for yourself with realistic and staggered deadlines. If you don’t, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
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5. Increase spiritual disciplines
I can think of no better way to start the New Year off right than with a deeper walk with God. Although reading the Bible and prayer are vital, there are many other ways to connect with God. Have you ever fasted from food or media? Do you journal the revelations God gives you in His Word? Do you take time to recharge through solitude and silence? Commit to practicing a different spiritual discipline this year and watch as your relationship deepens in a new way.
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6. Don’t sweat the small stuff
I am notorious for focusing on the negative before it has even happened. This makes me lose focus on what’s less important and distracts me from experiencing the joy in Christ. Instead of micromanaging every detail of your circumstances, focus on the positive, casting your cares on the Lord. Trust that He is in control. It will do your mind (and spiritual health) some good.
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7. Dream big
When you were a kid, it was easy for you to dream about what you wanted to be when you became an adult. However, when you became an adult, the busyness and harshness of life took it’s toll and it became more difficult to dream. Get a blank piece of paper and answer the following question: “When I die, I want to have done…” then write down whatever pops into your head. Create action steps to reach your dreams.
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8. Do some spiritual cleaning
Do a routine check of your soul. Are their sins that are taking up space in your soul? Much like the cleaning to remove the clutter, remove the spiritual clutter, too. Go to God and ask him to reveal anything that is keeping you from an intimate relationship with Him.
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9. Let it go
Spiritual baggage can weigh you down, increasing your stress and making life less enjoyable. Are there circumstances or situations that need your forgiveness? Or, do you need to see life from a different perspective so you can see what part you played in the conflict? The more you forgive, the quicker the act becomes. Soon you will feel freer than ever without all the baggage of sin weighing you down.
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10. Create a vision and mission statement
It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day activities that comprise your life. But where would you like to see yourself in one, five or ten years from now? A vision statement summarizes your life; the mission statement lists the steps you take to achieve that vision. Big companies create vision and mission statements for their businesses so they don’t derail off course. If companies that desire success plan for it, then why don’t we? Proverbs 29:18 says, “Without vision, the people cast off restraint.” Place these statements on a bedroom mirror or a place you frequent so you can be reminded every day of what you want your life to be.
The New Year truly can be a new beginning for you. These steps will help you embrace rather than dread the New Year. It will also afford you the freedom to become the person you have always wanted to be.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year and the Enduring Light Silver Medal, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her first book with Leafwood Publishers, An Invitation to the Table, came out September 2016. She also teaches at various writers' workshops, such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She and her husband live in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with their two children, Caleb and Leah. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
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Originally published Monday, 08 January 2018.