Welcome It is officially the holiday season! With the holidays, there often comes additional stress, in some form or another, so today I am going to share my top ten ways to calm down. And, since it’s two-for-Tuesday, I have two deliciously flavorful hot chocolate recipes. Thanks for joining me today. Note–I may receive a small compensation from affiliate links seen on this blog post. For further information, please see my Terms and Disclosure page.
Food For Thought Celebrating the holidays should not be stressful, especially if we keep the “reason for the season” at the forefront of our thoughts. But in reality, I think most people get a little hyped up during this time of year, for a lot of different reasons. I know I’m certainly guilty of this. Some of us simply over-extend ourselves and make too many time commitments. Some are worried about financially providing gifts for family and friends, or the idea of looming credit card debt going into the new year. Still others face deep sadness or depression as they are experiencing holidays without dearly loved family or friends for the first time. There are just so many distractions that can eat away at our joy during these special times. Please do not lose your joy! Instead, try one, or all, of my favorite calm down activities. My list of ten things are not simply copied from someone else’s list and placed here for content. These are the things I personally do when I need to calm down and they work for me. How about you, what are your favorite ways to calm down during a stressful season in your life?
1 “Google” relaxing music. I discovered this when I was teaching kindergarten. There were some days that they needed to calm down, and so did I! You can choose what type of instrumental music you want and you also get a screen of calming nature images. Many of the playlists are on a 1-3 hour segment, so you can hit play and let it go. I may not be in the classroom anymore, but this is still one of my favorite stress relievers.
2 The best “calm down” essential oil diffuser blend 3 drops orange, 2 drops lavender, plus one drop peppermint in the diffuser of your choice
3 Walk outside 10-15 minutes. Fresh air, sunshine, and moving your body may be one of the best prescriptions for reducing stress and anxiety. When I was in the classroom, I couldn’t just walk outside anytime I was feeling stressed though, so a great alternative is to open up a window and breathe in some of the fresh air. You can even do this when it’s cold or rainy outside. The cold air will invigorate and revive you. The smell of rain is naturally calming and the charged air gives off negative ions that actually produce a positive state of mind, so they are called “happy ions.”
4 Color (or draw…or paint…or doodle.) It doesn’t really matter what you’re coloring, as long as you don’t take your self too seriously. I have several coloring books that include everything from mandalas to illustrated Bible verses to nature pictures, many that include inspirational quotes or affirmations. Sometimes, I use hot colors, like reds, yellows and oranges when I’m mad and just want to get out aggression. Sometimes I focus on blues, greens and purples that truly inspire calm and relaxation. There is research to support that both coloring and color therapy can help reduce stress and anxiety.
5 Chop fresh vegetables. Now I realize that this one might not appeal to everyone, especially if just the idea of cooking sends you into a panic. But for me, the “mindless-ness” and rhythmic motions of chopping, especially bright, crisp, fresh vegetables, is very soothing. My favorites are peppers and onions for dishes like fajitas, but honestly I use peppers and onions in just about everything! But if you’re into meal prep, this can be therapeutic, too.
6 Take a warm bath using Dr. Teal’s bubble baths or bath salts. I especially like the Eucalyptus and Peppermint or the Lavender. When I combine the aromatherapy qualities with the warmth of the water, I can be calmed down for bedtime in a matter of minutes. If you would like to try the Dr. Teal’s line, click on the links below (verified on 12/4/17 at 5:50 p.m., CST).
7 Read verses from scripture that calm me. I’ve shared just a few of many favorites in the “Today’s Scriptures” section of the post.
8 Light a candle with a fragrance that soothes. Then sit and watch the flame. It’s mesmerizing and calming.
9 Enjoy a hot beverage. Close your eyes. Let the warmth wash over you. Savor the flavors. Concentrate on the sensory experience of the beverage. And check out the “Today’s Recipes” section of the post.
10 Journal. This can be a prayer journal, personal journal, art journal, or wherever you feel compelled to write, or draw, your feelings. I’ve often come home from work and went to my journal first. By the time I wrote out all of my feelings, I often felt better, and ready to tackle the tasks of the evening. Looking for a new journal? Check out these links (12/4/17, 6:00 p.m., CST):
There you have it. My favorite ten ways to calm down. I hope you will find a couple of ways that help you too!
Today’s Scriptures I have only scratched the surface on verses that inspire calm for me, but here are a few of my favorites. What scriptures do you go to when you need to feel calm?
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…”
2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”
Today’s Recipes Since one of my top ten ways to calm down is to enjoy a hot beverage, how could I not include some hot beverage recipes today? My beverage choice for calming is hot cocoa. I’m not a huge fan of hot tea, although I know the health benefits are great. Please continue to enjoy, if that’s your “cup of tea!” And while I like coffee, it’s not exactly calming for me. It makes me a little jittery or “amped.” Cocoa was suggested to me back in my early 20’s by a therapist who thought the warm milk would help me sleep. It has on occasions, but whether I want to go to sleep or not, I can relax with a warm cup of cocoa in my hands. Plain cocoa might be the most calming, but that’s a little boring to be sharing on a blog post. So today I have Peanut Butter Cup Hot Chocolate and Cookies and Cream Hot Chocolate. These will be great to try if your little ones have a snow day coming up!
Peanut Butter Cup Hot Chocolate (serves 2)
- 1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 TBS peanut butter
- 2 cups milk
- 1 TBS cocoa powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- garnishes-chopped peanut butter cups, whipped cream, and/or hot fudge sauce
In medium sauce pan, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter together, whisking just until smooth. Add milk, cocoa powder, and sugar. Continue to whisk while warming over medium heat. Be sure not to boil. When mixture is well combined and heated all the way through, pour mixture into two mugs. Top with whipped cream, chopped peanut butter cups, and fudge sauce, if desired.
Cookies and Cream Hot Chocolate (serves 2)
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup packaged cocoa mix
- 6 finely crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreo
- garnishes-whipped cream and additional crushed cookies
In medium saucepan, heat milk, cocoa, and crushed cookies over medium heat. Whisk often and heat thoroughly, without boiling. When cocoa is hot enough, pour into 2 mugs, topping with whipped cream and additional crushed cookies.