As fall begins, so does a new season of stress. But returning to school and work after time off during the summer doesn’t have to bring anxiety. Try one of the tips below for a calmer return to your autumn routine.
1. Create a God Box
Choose a container in your home and set it aside as your God box. You might place your God box in a prominent place or in your favorite reading corner. Write anything you want to “give to God” on a sheet of paper and place it inside the box as a symbol of surrender. You may want to create a simple liturgy as you put stressful items into the box, for example: “I give [this] to Your Unfailing Love, O God.” This also makes a great weekly family activity!
2. Adopt a Mantra
Mantras might sound strange or even feel uncomfortable at first, but they are a great habit to prevent stress and reorient ourselves toward mindful living. Choose a short prayer or verse of Scripture and recite it to yourself several times when stressful situations arise. In a stressful meeting? Write down your mantra several times on a sheet of paper. You might also carry a piece of paper in your pocket with your mantra or tape a copy in your car. If you’re having a difficult time finding a prayer or verse of Scripture to use as your mantra, try one of these great suggestions.
3. Practice Counting Your Breaths
We all know that a few deep breaths can dramatically change our mood. But a slight twist can boost the calming benefits. Close your eyes and breath deeply. Now try counting as you breath, keeping it short (no higher than 6); likewise, count slowly as you exhale (and try to match your initial number). As a bonus: before you begin breathing, spend a few moments visualizing a peaceful location.
4. Get Help From the Professionals
Try a class! Local libraries and gyms offer relaxation and exercise classes that are a perfect de-stressing addition to your fall schedule. Immanuel will also offer several helpful classes this fall, including free seminars on calm parenting and weekly meditation and yoga classes.
It might sound redundant coming from a church, but prayer is a great resource for calming and centering! This fall, try a new way of praying:
- Body prayer: adding simple movements to spoken prayer is a great addition to anyone’s prayer life. Try this great example by John Philip and Ali Newell.
- Spiritual walking: Choose a well-known route and walk it slowly and intentionally a few times. Try adding prayer as you walk, listening to your favorite religious music, or focusing on specific things (nature, people showing kindness, places you see hope).
- Writing out your prayers: Grab a journal and start writing! Try writing your prayers out before you pray or write them stream-of-consciousness as you pray.
- Recite a well-known prayer throughout a season: choose a favorite prayer from the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer and read it to yourself, write it out, or recite it during a stressful time in your life.
Susan Querry Graceson works as Interim Director of Children’s Ministries at Immanuel. She is also a candidate for ordination and a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary. She is originally from Eastern Kentucky (a coal miner’s daughter!) but has lived in the DC area for many years. Susan is an ordained ruling elder, and has served local churches as educator, pulpit supply preacher, retreat leader, and worship coordinator. She enjoys volunteering with a number of social service organizations. Susan and her husband David live in Falls Church with their sons Sammy and Carter. Contact her at email@example.com.