This past year has been one that has challenged all of us in new and unprecedented ways. Despite our most diligent intentions, the daily stresses of life are present. As we end 2020, and prepare for 2021, how can we embrace our days, the ‘good and the difficult,’ and create PEACE in our lives?

I want to offer a few basic, yet powerful, ways to alleviate stress and foster peace (and to use my word: alignment) within ourselves. This is certainly not an all-inclusive list; yet, these tips are uber easy (and cost nothing!) and they deliver a powerful punch of peace serum!

Tip 1:  Get out in nature. This can be as simple as a walk in the morning with your dog or a bike ride late in the afternoon. When we work in our offices (especially when the ‘office’ is at home), there is a tendency to sit in front of the computer screen for hours at a time; and this lack of motion, fresh air, and sunlight can do a number on our psyche. Just get up and MOVE – preferably outdoors. Breathe in deeply. Listen to the crickets, the birds, and the gentle sounds of the wind rustling in the trees. Yes, this is so very basic; yet, I know so many who NEVER go outside. Rethink this; and spend just a half hour outside every day – you will be amazed at how this will center your soul and align your mind, body, and spirit.

Tip 2: Put down the phone and turn off the car radio.  We have become addicted to our smart phones – we all know this. We find it acceptable to let folks check their phones while meeting with us, on Zoom, or even at someone’s home. Frankly, it is rude. Furthermore, it keeps us ‘on’ and being ‘nagged at’ all day and all night long. I understand the need to be accessible, yet, we need to set boundaries AND respect the present moment when we are with others. And when we are driving, try turning off the car radio. Just have peace and quiet in the sanctuary of your car. I call this ‘wonderful dashboard time’. This becomes my respite and this quiet period gives me time to focus on my breath, think about what I’m going to do during the day or when I arrive at my destination. Seems simple – yet it throws a powerful punch.

Tip 3: Play – play often. My friends know I love games. It is so much fun to have a night where we focus on nothing of true importance other than laughing and letting go. This can be playing cards, Rummikub, or even just throwing the ball to your 4-legged companion. The list is endless. And yes, we can do this in our ‘pod’ and be safe! The point is that the activity has no point! This is liberating and clears the cobwebs from the daily stresses which life has dealt us this year. We all need time to PLAY – and even though we are adults, that need does not diminish, in fact I think it increases!

Tip 4: Minimize the Multi-Tasking. Many brain studies have proven that multi-tasking is not good for our brains! Yet, as our world moves faster and faster, we have gotten very good at doing 10-12 things at one time. We talk on the phone, draft a memo, wrap packages, and respond to emails – all while eating lunch at our desks! This is exhausting, inefficient, and extremely stressful. I get the necessity of our work these days, yet, I also know that if we give our full attention to just one thing, we actually will improve our output and reduce our stress levels.

Tip 5: Stand up at least once an hour. I love the idea of the ‘stand up’ desk, yet not everyone will want to embrace that approach. However, we all can get up at least once an hour – and touch our toes, walk around the house, or flex our legs and ankles. This gets our blood circulating again and that will help to release tension and thus, minimize stress.

Tip 6: Bring the outdoors to your office. It is a basic Feng Shui principle that large green leafy plants are a vital energy component for an office. Not only do these plants help to keep our air clean, it is very grounding to be able to look at something green in your office. My office is actually a ‘tree house’ with wonderful views of trees, birds, and squirrels; yet, I know not everyone can have a green view out your window. So just bring it indoors. Have a least one, preferably two or three, green plants near you.  This can be a refreshing oasis and create a peaceful environment.

Tip 7: Find time to be with your Creator every day. Personally, I start every day with Centering Prayer (you can learn about this by googling Thomas Keating) and have for over 35 years. I journal every day, even if this is only a word or a sentence, this keeps me in touch with ‘me’. Having time in devotion: prayer, scripture, poetry, inspirational books, etc.  keeps things in perspective and solidifies my belief that God is Sovereign, which takes such a load off! I bookend my days in this way and that provides me with a ‘Peace that passes all understanding’.

We may not be able to control the pressure points of this ‘new world order’; however, we can absolutely control our responses to it. One truism that this year has continued to make clear is that we only control our ABC’s (my daddy’s wise words) – our Attitudes, our Behaviors, and our Choices. The world is spinning very fast and so much is unprecedented and unsettling, yet, these basic tips are quite simple, and I have found they help me manage the stress, create a feeling of alignment within myself, and sustain a peaceful approach to life.