Stress Management Tool #3 – Meditation

Stop rolling your eyes!  Any healthy conversation about holistic stress management has to turn to meditation sooner or later – and you can do it!  Come on, then, and let’s talk a little about meditation, and hopefully demystify it and make it more accessible…

What Exactly is Meditation?  Chrisman and Blackwell (2018) define meditation as “a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth” (p. 2256).  The recommended focus varies among cultures and religions; however, Clinton, et al. (2005) teach that Christian meditation includes meditating on God’s Word and on Christ.

Benefits of Meditation.  The National Institutes of Health (2016) reports a finding that scientific evidence supports that meditation reduces the symptoms of stress, to include depression and anxiety.  In fact, one study found that meditation is among the top-recommended methods of coping with a wide range of stress-related maladies, both physical and emotional (Chrisman & Blackwell, 2018).  Bergland (2013) writes that “any type of meditation will reduce anxiety” and lower the levels of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone; Bergland goes on to recommend taking several deep, slow breaths at the first signs of stress.

Methods of Meditation.  Meditation can seem a bit “mystical” and “mysterious” to those who have not practiced it, but it is a valid stress intervention that is readily available to everyone, and it’s more down-to-earth than you may think (i.e., it doesn’t have to be all “woo-woo” – a technical term).  In fact, Christians may be surprised to learn that meditation is a practice supported by Scripture (see Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, Psalm 104:34).

Bergland (2013) offers this encouragement:

“You can meditate anytime and any place. There don’t have to be strict boundaries to when and how you do it. Mindfulness and meditation is a powerful de-stressor and cortisol reducer that is always in your toolbox and at your fingertips. You can squeeze in a few minutes of meditation on the subway, in a waiting room, on a coffee break . . .”

Bergland goes on to write that setting aside as little as ten minutes for meditation can calm the mind and body.

So now that you know what meditation is and how beneficial it can be, you may be wondering how to do it yourself.  Need specific tips to start your own meditation practice to help relieve stress in your life?  Contact me and I’ll be delighted to help you develop your own meditation practice!


Bergland, C. (2013). Cortisol: Why the “stress hormone” is public enemy no. 1: 5 simple ways to lower your cortisol levels without drugs. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Chrisman, L., & Blackwell, A. H. (2018). Meditation. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health (4th ed., Vol. 4, pp. 2256-2260). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. Retrieved from

Clinton, T., Hart, A. and Ohlschlager, G. (2005). Caring for people God’s way: Personal and emotional issues, addictions, grief and trauma.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

National Institutes of Health. (2016, January). Mind and body approaches for stress: What the science says. NCCIH Clinical Digest for health professionals. Retrieved June 23, 2018, from



Pamper Yourself!

Stress Management Tip #3 – Self-Care and Creativity

Self-care is a concept that is often dismissed by women, frequently because they feel guilty for devoting time to themselves instead of those around them.  Christian women in particular often consider self-care “wrong” or “bad.”  After all, the Bible makes a point of teaching that Christians are to be humble and put others first, right (e.g., Phil. 2:3)?  Well guess what . . . Scripture also teaches that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and that we are to take care of it (1 Cor. 3:17).  Proverbs 14:30 teaches that “a heart at peace gives life to the body,” and being so stressed out we can’t fit rest and self-care into our schedule is at odds with having a peaceful heart, wouldn’t you say?

If that’s not enough, the benefits of self-care are backed by science.  Research reveals that taking a “creative break” can be relaxing and rejuvenating.  A recent study demonstrated that participants of varying levels of experience, after engaging in artistic expression for only forty-five minutes, experienced a significant reduction in levels of the stress hormone cortisol (Kaimal, Ray & Muniz, 2016).  Another study found that artistic expression, including dance, writing, visual art (painting, crafting), and music, were beneficial to mental health.  The results of that study “indicated that creative engagement can decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances” (emphasis mine) (Stuckey and Nobel, 2010, p. 261).  Thus, there is ample biblical and scientific support for embracing the discipline of self-care (yes, I called it a discipline!).

Dear one, if you’re earnestly trying to learn effective stress management techniques, you simply must get comfortable with the idea of taking care of YOU, and even – gasp! – pampering yourself!  Try making a list of the things you find relaxing and indulgent, but that don’t cause you to feel guilty afterward (i.e., eating a pint of full-fat ice cream in one sitting, after consuming half a pizza, is not recommended).  So what brave step will you take toward caring for yourself?  It can be simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t even have to take that much time.  Maybe give yourself a pedicure and paint your toes a wild color you love!  Or, or settle in with a favorite book for even half an hour.  Make a crafting date with yourself and get creative making something pretty!  You could sit quietly and listen to soothing music (or, provided you don’t have neighbors super close, turn up your favorite “happy song” and belt it out!), buy yourself some flowers, take a long walk in the woods, have a “home spa” night, take a hot soak . . . whatever it is, it will be unique to you and whatever you’re in the mood for.  Precious one, do this for yourself!

Need individual guidance on how to de-stress your life? Contact me for one-on-one stress management coaching in person, via phone, or on FaceTime!


Kaimal, G., Ray, K. & Muniz, J. (2016). Reduction of cortisol levels and participants’ responses following art making.  Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association33(2), 74-80. doi: 10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832

Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: A review of current literature. American Journal of Public Health100(2), 254–263.


Just Say “No.” Really.

Let’s talk about a short little sentence: “No.”  You really can say it, really can mean it, and really can deny responsibility for how others receive it.  Understand this:  it is absolutely imperative that we learn to say “no” if we want to be emotionally healthy and have healthy relationships.  Let’s take these one at a time…

An Emotionally Healthy You

If I don’t say “no” to something I don’t want to do, someplace I don’t want to go, something I don’t want to eat, etc., I pay the price in regret, bitterness and resentment.  When it comes to doing something, or going somewhere I don’t want to, I also experience S-T-R-E-S-S.  For me it tends to start about two weeks before the Big Event, and it escalates daily until about 3 days beforehand, when it escalates hourly.  Let’s add guilt to the list, because at the end of the day, saying “yes” when I mean to say “no” is dishonest.  And being dishonest is damaging to my peace and happiness, as well as my relationship with God.  Are you beginning to see how important this is?

Having Healthy Relationships

If I say “yes” to someone when they ask me to attend or participate in an event, project, assignment, etc., and it’s something I really want to decline, guess what?  Those same feelings of regret, bitterness, anxiety, resentment and guilt come into play – but now they’re not just in my pretty little head. They build and feed on themselves and by the time the event arrives I’m in a particularly crappy mood, and everyone knows it.  Now I’m dealing with all those same nasty effects as before and, if I haven’t inconvenienced and disappointed everyone by bailing out at the last minute, I’m messing up other people’s good time!  Wow!  And you know what happens then? Later on, they may be reluctant to ask me to do something, and it might be something I really want to do!  More importantly, this scenario all too often taints the relationship for a period of time at best and causes serious damage at worst.

The Price Tag

There is a price to pay for saying “no,” so be prepared.  When you say “no” to people, even spouses and friends, they aren’t always going to like it.  (Do you always like it when someone tells you “no”?)  In fact, sometimes they’ll dislike it a LOT.  But stand your ground and exercise those healthy boundaries.  They’ll get used to it over time (and you will, too), and eventually the ones who really matter will begin to appreciate it when you respectfully decline their requests and invitations.

People Appreciate Being Told “No”

Now, you may be thinking, ‘What?!  They’ll begin to appreciate it when I say ‘no’?! No way!’  Way.  Really.  Here’s why:  they don’t like it when you’re cranky, and they don’t like it when you back out.  And in time, they will begin to appreciate it even more when you say “yes,” because they can depend on you, and they know you’ll bring your best to whatever it is.  They will likely even start to see a pattern for the things you’re likely to invest yourself in versus the things you habitually say “no” to, and tailor their invitations accordingly.

I have learned to respect, value, and even encourage people to say “no” to me.  I would much rather know that they are all in when they say “yes,” that they’ll be happy about their choice, and that they’ll help spread positivity about the idea/event/whatever.  Also, when I give someone space to say “no,” and I receive their “no” with respect, I build trust with that person.

Say “No,” and Say It Fast

When you need to say “no,” say it.  And say it fast.  I have waited and waffled and hedged until I have caused rifts in important relationships because I really cared about the person and didn’t want to say “no.”  I have thought maybe I’d feel more like saying “yes” down the road a bit, and I’ve thought that delaying wasn’t as hurtful as saying “no.”  The fallacies here are many, but here are two: 1) I’m still going to say “no,” but now they’ve hoped I’d say “yes” for too long and thus their disappointment is greater; and 2) I’ve stressed myself out unnecessarily, trying to talk myself into wanting to do “the thing.”  Another serious problem here is that I’m deceiving myself.  If you’re reasonably certain it’s not something you’re interested in, say “no.”  If you think it’s going to stress you out, say “no.”  If you get that sinking feeling in your stomach, say “no” BEFORE you justify it in your head.  You know what I’m talking about: ‘Oh, it’s my best friend and she’s always there for me – I really have to do this.’  No. You don’t.  Or, ‘Wow, he’s so hot!  If I say ‘no,’ he’ll never ask again.’  Good riddance.  Say “no” immediately and resolutely.

Don’t Make Excuses

“No” is a sentence.  (Don’t pick this apart, just roll with it.)  You don’t have to offer an explanation.  But if you do, make sure it’s rock solid and true…lies have a funny way of biting us in the behind!  This is the toughest part for me.  I don’t actually owe anyone an explanation.  I’m Southern and Christian, so I really feel like I must explain myself in the interest of being polite.  That’s a bunch of hooey.  It’s my business, and I have no obligation to soften my “no” by giving the other person a reason that validates my response.  It’s valid all by itself, and I don’t have to have a “good enough” reason for it!  And brace yourself, because the Bible has something to say here: “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37, NKJV).

Don’t Be a Jerk

Just don’t.  Be firm and don’t leave room for doubts or to be wheedled into changing your mind.  But say “no” in a way you’d prefer to receive it yourself.

A Caveat

Sometimes – but only rarely – it is a good idea to say “yes” when you don’t want to.  Have I lost my mind, and all the precious time I’ve spent on this blog??  No.  There are rare occasions when we simply must do “the thing.”  A close friend or family member’s milestone celebration.  A retirement, special birthday, speaking engagement of special significance, and even – gasp! – the occasional wedding.  You have to go.  Suck it up, buttercup, and go.  Do some meditation, take your Xanax, whatever.

But I want to reiterate: this only happens rarely, and only on monumental occasions.  Baking 12 dozen chocolate lava cupcakes for the church fundraiser is NOT a monumental occasion.  Someone else would love to show off their mad baking skills, so step back and give them the chance to shine!

Go Forth and Say “No”

Saying “no” is very difficult; I think even more so for women, and for Christian women.  By and large, we want to do for people, and please people, and help people.  All are fine within healthy limits, for the right reasons.

So, go on out there and start practicing your respectfully delivered “no!”  I won’t take “no” for an answer!  😉  (Y’all saw that coming, right?)