Stress Reduction Tools

Nature Therapy
100 at home Stress Busters
Biblical Healing
Gratitude Journal
Negative Thought and Worry Control


Aroma Therapy is the process of using aromas, usually in the form of essential oils, but can include flowers and foods, to increase homeostasis. It brings the physical, emotional, and energetic systems back into balance, or it creates a sense of calm and well - being. True Aroma Therapy analyzes you to see where you are deficient and uses the appropriate oils to restore balance. These oils may or may not smell "nice" at the time. They are selected for the therapeutic qualities rather than their pleasing qualities. Pseudo Aroma Therapy uses oils that the user finds pleasant in order to increase enjoyment. Both can be beneficial. It just depends on what your goal is.


Testing for deficiencies can be done in a number of different ways. You can measure energy outflows via electrodes or some other electrical device. You can use a pendulum or rune stones. You can do energetic muscle testing. You can assess deficiencies by listing physical and/or emotional symptoms. You can palpate the body looking for areas of tenderness, strain, energetic highs and lows, inhibited movements, etc. You can follow the Meridian lines, look at acupuncture pulses, or use other assessment methods.

I generally use a muscle test that I learned from a physical therapist. Because I like simple yes/no questions and answers, I ask the body "what oils will be beneficial/ most helpful today?" I'm looking for positive responses. I have my client raise their arm in front of them holding it up but not resisting. I push lightly on their arm while touching oil bottles with my other hand. I'm measuring the amount of resistance from my client's arm. I'm looking for yes responses which are stronger and more positive, and rejecting the negative responses which are weaker. Many therapists would do this in reverse and ask "where are you deficient" and look for the weakest responses. Whichever way you choose to ask the question, make sure you are clear, concise and consistent. I do a double blind measure, not knowing myself which oils I'm touching and not saying anything out loud. This helps me to get out of the way and hopefully to not interfere with my own issues. It just takes practice to learn to listen and differentiate the yes/no responses. Practice on as many people as you can until you are sensitive to the answers.

Once you have an idea of what is high/low, you can begin to treat by selecting the aromas that will counter balance your current conditions. The goal is balance. If you have too much yang, than you need to increase yin. If you have too much fire energy, than you want to increase water energy. If you have too much anxiety, than you want to increase calm. You may have various deficiencies throughout your body and will need to treat each part with different oil. You may have multiple deficiencies. I recommend you start with the most uncomfortable deficiency first and treat that. Give yourself time to adjust (which can take 24-36 hours), and then reassess.


Treatment can be done by applying the aromas to skin, clothing, bathwater, steam, incense burners, firewood, cooking with spices, etc. - however you want to diffuse the aroma into the air. Treatment directly to the skin is most common because it usually provides the fastest and strongest method of release and the oils can be absorbed directly into your body.


Cautions: Some oils can cause allergic reactions, burning, photo-sensitivity, etc, so make sure you read up on any cautions before applying oils directly to skin. And if anything starts to burn or be uncomfortable use carrier oil (olive, coconut, almond, grape seed) to diffuse the oil or soap to remove. Water and oil don't mix so you can't "water it down". Water and heat can increase the effects, positive and negative. Some oils like Frankincense can strengthen the effects of other oils. Not all oils are the same. Lower quality oils are more likely to cause negative reactions and may not be as effective treatment. Look for organic and therapeutic grade oils. Young Living and Doterra are usually considered the high end, but other oils work fine.


Avoid during pregnancy or breast feeding: basil, cedar, cinnamon, clove, cypress, sage, fennel, and hyssop. Avoid for seizures and migraines: fennel, eucalyptus, rosemary, pennyroyal, tansy. Avoid for job interviews: rose, ylang ylang, jasmine, vetiver, narcissus.


Some Common Oils and Their Properties and Uses

Anise - bacteria, calming, cleansing, cramps,  infection, invigorating, plantar fasciitis, spasms, torticollis

Balsam Fir - balance, breathing, empowering, fibromyalgia, gout, sciatica, warming, 

Basil - anemia, LBP, breast feeding, cellulite, colds, concentration, dandruff, exhaustion, fatigue, fungus, grease,  insects, invigorating, nervous system, ovaries, shock, sinuses, Env stress, mental stress, torticollis, UTI, warming, weight loss, 

Bergamot - acne, anxiety, bipolar, calming, cleansing, colic, concentration, concussion, cramps, creativity, exhaustion, gums, menopause, nervous system, plantar fasciitis, PMS, screen fatigue, spasms, Env stress, phy stress, mental stress,  emo stress, sunburn, torticollis,

Cardamom - LBP, cysts, digestion, invigorating, sinuses, veins, 

Carrot Seed - acne, calluses, dandruff, edema,  joints, nails, osteoporosis, rosacea, wrinkles, 

Cedar - balance, calming, cellulite, constipation, depression, dizziness, empowering, fear, grief, grounding, nervous system, PTSD, screen fatigue, Env stress, 

Chamomile - abscess, acne, arthritis, bacteria, bug bites and stings, black eyes, bleeding, blisters, bruises, burns, bursitis, calluses, calming, candida, cirrhosis, cleansing, cough, cramps, creativity, diarrhea, ears, eczema, fever,  inflammation, insomnia,  joints, migraines, nausea, neuralgia, nervous system, osteoporosis, rheumatism, rosacea, sore throat, sunburn, teething, torticollis,

Cinnamon - appetite, bleeding, burns, cleansing, colds, cough, diabetes, gas, immune,  insects, invigorating, kidneys, scars, shock, tonsils, warming, 

Citronella - antifungal, antibacterial, cleansing, repellant, 

Clove -abscess, bacteria, blood clots, cleansing, colds, dementia, detox, downs, gums, immune, invigorating, nausea, neuralgia, nervous system, osteoporosis, sinuses,  sprains, teething, 

Copaiba - digestive aid, boosts injury healing

Cypress - acne, arthritis, balance, bruises, bursitis, calming, cellulite, concussion, cramps, dandruff, depression, dizziness, edema, ED, fear, grease, grief, grounding, nails, nervous system, noise pollution, prostate, rosacea, screen fatigue, Env stress,  emo stress, stroke, veins, 

Eucalyptus - asthma, bug bites and stings, breathing, burns, candida, carpal, cleansing, colic, colds, cough, dandruff, diarrhea, ears, fever, fungus, insects, invigorating, itching, lice, nails, neuralgia, prostate,  rheumatism, rosacea,

Frankincense - abrasion, arthritis, autism, balance, cirrhosis, concussion, creativity, cuts, dementia, empowering, exhaustion, fever,   infection, migraines, ovaries, poison ivy, PTSD, ulcers, wrinkles, 

Geranium - anxiety, apathy, autism, black eyes,  bleeding, HBP, bruises, calming, candida, cleansing, cramps, creativity, diarrhea, dizziness, eyes, gallbadder, grief, immune, invigorating, menopause, menstrual pain, nervous system, osteoporosis, poison ivy, PMS, rosacea, shock, sore throat, Env stress, chem stress, phy stress, mental stress, emo stress, sunburn, veins, 

Ginger - appetite, arthritis, balance, bloating, bursitis, digestion, dizziness, dysentery, dysphagia, estrogen, exhaustion, gas, invigorating, IBS,  joints, nails, osteoporosis, sore throat, sprains, warming, 

Grapefruit - appetite, cellulite, cleansing, concentration, creativity, depression, exhaustion, gums, invigorating, nails, screen fatigue, chem stress, mental stress, teething, weight loss, 

Helichrysum - bleeding, blood clots, LBP, bones, burns, cleansing, eczema,  infection, menstrual pain, nervous system, scars, sciatica, shock, spasms, stroke, sunburn, veins, 

Jasmine - anxiety, apathy, calming, empowering, grief, menopause, migraines, PMS, warming, 

Juniper - abscess, acne, arthritis, bursitis, cellulite, cleansing, cysts, ears, edema, fungus, grounding,  joints, kidneys, neuralgia, nervous system, sinuses, 

Lavender - abscess, acne, anxiety, apathy, arthritis, bacteria, bug bites and stings, black eyes, blisters, HBP, bruises, burns, calming, candida, carpal, cirrhosis, cramps, cuts, dandruff, depression, diarrhea, ears, eczema, edema, exhaustion, fear, fever, fungus, grease, grief, immune, infection,  inflammation, itching,  joints, migraines, nails, neuralgia, poison ivy, prostate,  rheumatism, scars, shock, sore throat, chem stress, phy stress, mental stress, sunburn, torticollis, weight loss, wrinkles, 

Lemon - abscess, acne, anemia, bacteria, bug bites and stings, bleeding, blisters, calluses, cellulite, cleansing, colds, cough, constipation, dandruff, detox, diarrhea, digestion, edema, exhaustion, fungus, grease, insomnia, invigorating, kidneys, nails, nervous system, osteoporosis, pancreas, screen fatigue, shock, sore throat, chem stress, ulcers, UTI, veins, wrinkles, 

Lemongrass - acne, carpal, cleansing, colds, cramps, depression, detox, immune, insects, joints, weight loss, 

Lime - cleansing, dandruff, exhaustion, invigorating, libido, weight loss, wrinkles, 

Marjoram - balance, HBP, calming, candida, carpal, colic, cramps, ears, exhaustion, insomnia, neuralgia, pancreas, spasms, phy stress, torticollis, warming, 

Myrrh -  abrasion, bleeding, blisters, candida, cuts, dysentery, eczema, empowering, gums,  infection, invigorating, stretch marks, ulcers, wrinkles, 

Myrtle - balance, fungus, grounding, 

Neroli - abrasion, acne, cleansing, creativity, cuts, exhaustion, spasms, wrinkles, 

Nutmeg - balance, calming, grounding, invigorating, libido, menopause, neuralgia, nervous system, osteoporosis, PMS,  sprains, warming, 

Orange - anxiety, calming, cleansing, concentration, depression, fear, grief, immune, invigorating, nervous system, screen fatigue, weight loss, wrinkles, 

Oregano - bacteria, calluses, cellulite, cleansing, colds, cough, immune,  infection, invigorating, osteoporosis, parasites, sinuses, wrinkles, 

Parsley - acne, bruises, cleansing, rosacea, sore throat, spasms, veins, 

Patchouli - apathy, candida, cellulite, constipation, edema, empowering, eyes, fungus, grounding, itching, screen fatigue, chem stress, mental stress, wrinkles, 

Pepper, Black - arthritis, breathing, dysphasia, exhaustion, osteoporosis, shingles,  sprains, warming, 

Peppermint - arthritis, constipation, diarrhea, digestion, dizziness, fatigue, fever,  inflammation,  insects, invigorating, IBS, itching, nausea, neuralgia,   rheumatism, shock, sinuses, torticollis, veins, 

Pine - empowering, grounding, invigorating, screen fatigue, sinuses, sore throat, 

Rose - acne, black eyes, calming, cirrhosis, creativity, cuts, depression, edema,  empowering, eyes, grief,  joints, libido, menopause, PMS, romance, screen fatigue, shock,  emo stress, wrinkles, 

Rosemary - asthma, arthritis, bladder, bruises, calming, candida, cellulite, colds, constipation, dandruff, empowering, exhaustion, grease, immune, invigorating,  joints, lice, nails, nervous system, osteoporosis, sinuses, chem stress, phy stress, torticollis, weight loss, wrinkles, 

Sage - acne, HPB, breast feeding, cellulite, cholesterol, cleansing, dandruff, ED, estrogen, exhaustion, fungus, grease, fertility, insomnia, kidneys, libido, menopause, menstrual pain, migraines, osteoporosis, ovaries, PMS, sore throat, chem stress, warming, weight loss, wrinkles, 

Sandalwood - balance, bladder, cough, dizziness, edema, exhaustion, fear, fungus, grounding, insomnia, kidneys, nervous system, PTSD, scars, screen fatigue, spasms, mental stress,  emo stress, stretch marks, 

Spearmint - digestion, invigorating, 

Tea Tree - abscess, abrasion, acne, bacteria, blisters, burns, candida, cleansing, colds, cuts, detox, ears, fungus, gums, immune, infection, itching, lice, psoriasis, shingles, 

Thyme - abscess, abrasion, acne, bacteria, bladder, candida, cellulite, cleansing, colds, cough, cuts, cysts, dandruff, diarrhea, ears, empowering, fever, fungus, gums, grease,  infection,  insects, itching, menopause, neuralgia, nervous system, osteoporosis, prostate, sinuses, sore throat, phy stress, torticollis, ulcers, UTI, warming, weight loss, wrinkles, 

Valerian - balance, grounding, insomnia, nervous system, shock, 

Vanilla - antioxidant, calming, purifying, refreshing, strengthening, uplifting, 

Vetiver - adhd, anxiety, balance, bipolar, calming, exhaustion, grounding, neuralgia, nervous system, noise pollution,  emo stress, 

Wintergreen - carpal, depression, fibromyalgia, gout, inflammation, invigorating, IBS, joints, nervous system, sciatica, teething, 

Yarrow - acne, arthritis, burns, calming, candida, grease,   inflammation,  joints, osteoporosis,  rheumatism, rosacea, spasms, wrinkles, 

Ylang Ylang - calming, emo stress, grief, fertility, libido, migraines, PMS, romance, 


Nature Therapy


One of the most effective anxiety busters I know of is to spend time in natural environments. There is nothing like creation to uplift your soul, bring you peace, and make you feel nurtured and connected to God. 


Walking and hiking outdoors is not only physically beneficial, it is beneficial to your soul. It is the easiest place to slow down and be grateful for all the little blessings. “Stop and smell the roses” is cliche; but it really does work! Don't just smell the roses, engage all your five senses. Smell the flowers, the rain, the pine trees, the dirt, the grass. Listen to the birds singing, the crickets chirping, the creek flowing, the wind in the trees, the wind chimes. See the desolate mountain top, the green valley, the red canyon walls, the orange and purple sunset. Taste the fresh water, the lemon grass, and the wild raspberries. Feel the sun on your skin, the thundering vibration of the waterfall, the hot granite rock, the cool creek, the exhilaration of climbing the hill. 

These things can calm your heart rate, stop you from shaking or clinching, and bring you solace. Healthy people spend time in nature on a weekly basis! If you live in the city go to the botanic gardens, the town park, or even your own backyard. And if you can't go to nature during a crisis- bring nature to you. Listening to nature sounds can greatly reduce your anxiety during a crisis. You can buy many hour long nature soundtracks online.


Sunlight may be taboo in culture today, but the truth is we NEED sunlight. Sunlight is essentially the only way to get sufficient quantities of vitamin D. Vitamin D decreases your heart rate and  blood pressure, and elevates mood and calm. I know, you drink milk with vitamin D added right? But you can't absorb that vitamin D. Some foods have vitamin D but not enough of it. Go for the real thing. Spend one hour in the sun per week. And yes, it does have to be UV light. That's where the vitamin D is. UV light is blue light found in full spectrum sunlight. In the winter, the UV light gets scattered in the atmosphere making the sky appear bluer. Same thing happens during sunrise and sunset. Less of it gets to your skin. So you need to expose yourself to sun during the 10am-2pm time range (winter) or 9am-6pm (summer) to insure yourself vitamin rich spectrum light. If you are of northern decent and skin cancer prone avoid too much sun exposure, but don't avoid sun all together. One hour per week seems like very little to me. I personally don't believe in sun-block. Daily use of sun-block has been shown to cause skin cancer. Instead, get gradually increasing amounts or 15 minute doses.

Music Therapy

An effective relaxation technique for me is music therapy. This is simply the use of relaxing music to affect emotional calm. I think this is why I am one of the most relaxed people I know. I listen to calm massage music all day. Even at home. There is nothing like music to affect the way you feel. It can hype you up, bring you down, delight or depress you. It is a gateway to your emotions. There are times when violent music can be a release of negative energy (in a positive way without actually getting violent), but for the most part, I believe that you should try to avoid any music that causes you fear and anxiety, or endorses violence and a lack of self control. Negative stimuli causes stress. Target, Walmart, Amazon, Itunes, and our National Parks are good places to find relaxation music. 


Multiple scientific studies have shown that earthing, also known as grounding, reduces inflammation that causes disease. It has been shown to help alleviate mental health and depression disorders, improve immunity, increase parasympathetic function, and decrease adrenal fatigue. The idea is to walk or stand barefoot, lie down, or sit, on the earth and connect physically with the ground. It works by grounding our bodies electrical energy (just like you would ground a cable, phone, or electrical wire) and soaking up negative electrical ions from the earth that counteract the positive electrical ions that we are surrounded with from cellphones, electricity, etc. Kids ground instinctively, but as we get older we isolate ourselves from the earth. We wear rubber shoes, stay on insolated ground, and sleep in elevated beds. The movement was started by Clint Ober. You can learn more by watching the earthingmovie on YouTube.

100 Do-At-Home Stress Busters


Aromatherapy. Use lavender, marjoram, cedar, cypress. All good for calming.

Ask for help


Blow up a balloon

Boxing. Punch something.

Brainstorm e.g., new invention, solution to a problem, all the words you can think of that start with the letter “a”.

Chew gum or suck on hard candy

Clean the house

Climb a tree

Count your blessings

Count your breaths


Daydream something nice

Deep breathing

Do a risk assessment

Do some Myofascial Unwinding

Drink a glass of milk

Drink a glass of water

Drink tea

Eat dark chocolate

Eat something healthy

Engage in a easy repetitive activity like vacuuming, knitting, or washing the car

Engage in a hobby


Feng Shui

Focus on your five senses

Get a facial

Get a massage

Get CranioSacral Therapy

Give a hug, or two or three

Go for a run

Go for a swim or soak at the hot springs

Go for an afternoon drive

Ground to the earth, the sun, or the ocean

Have a pillow fight

Hypnotize yourself



Label your feelings, e.g., “exhausted”, “sad”, “frazzled.”


Listen to birds singing

Listen to calming music

Listen to wind chimes

Look at nature photography

Look for shapes in the clouds

Make a “To Do” list and prioritize the items from greatest to least.

Make faces

Make funny sounds

Make up a language. Engage your brain.


Pet a cat

Plan a vacation

Play a game

Play free word association 

Play the drums even if you don’t own any- beat on your pots and pans

Play with the dog

Pop bubble wrap

Practice good posture

Practice letting go

Practice saying no - set boundaries

Practice slowing down


Prep for tomorrow

Progressive Relaxation

Prune the plants

Read a book

Read the Bible

Read the comics

Remember past successes or positive experiences

Repeat a calming mantra

Roll down a hill

Scream into a pillow

Scribble or color

Simplify your home and reduce clutter


Sit in the sun

Sketch or paint a picture

Smell some flowers

Smile- even fake smiling can change your mood

Snack on nuts. Walnuts lower blood pressure

Soak your feet

Squeeze a stress ball

Stomp through puddles or mud


Styrofoam Rolling

Swing on a porch swing, swing set, tire swing, or hammock

Tai Chi

Take a bath

Take a day off like Ferris Bueller

Take a quick nap

Take a walk

Talk to a compassionate friend or even a compassionate stranger

Think positively

Turn off your electronic devices


Watch and listen to ocean waves, river, lake or creek

Watch the flames in a fireplace

Watch wildlife

Biblical Healing


Pr 3:7-8 - Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 

Mk 2:17 - On hearing this, Jesus said to them, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners.



Ex 15:26 - He said, If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.

2 Ch 7:13-16 - When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

Ps 41:3-4 - Blessed is he who has regard for the weak... The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness. I said, O Lord, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.... But, you Oh Lord, have mercy on me.

Ps 103:2-5 - Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.

Ps 147:1-5 - Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God. How pleasant and fitting to praise him! The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is the Lord and mighty in power, his understanding has no limit.

Pr 15:4 - The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Isa 53:5 - But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Eze 47:12 - Fruit tress of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. (New temple of Jerusalem) 

Mal 4:1-2 - Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the Almighty Lord. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 

Mt 9:20-22 - Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, If only I touch his cloak, I will be healed. Jesus turned to her and saw her. Take heart, daughter, he said, your faith has healed you and the woman was healed from that moment. 

Mt 10:5-8 - These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions, Do not go among the gentiles or enter any town in Samaria, but go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: the kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts. Take no bag for the journey or extra tunic, or sandals, or staff, for the worker is worth his keep.

Mt 14:36 - All who touched him were healed.

Lk 4:23 - Jesus said to them, Assuredly you will quote this proverb to me: Physician heal thyself. Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum. I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.

Lk 5:17-20- One day as he was teaching, pharases and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, Friend, your sins are forgiven. 

Acts 4:10 - then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

Acts 14:9 - In Lystra, there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth, and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him and saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, Stand up on your feet! At that, the man jumped up began to walk.

1 Cor 12:7-11 - No to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same spirit, to another faith, to another gifts of healing, to another miraculous powers, to another prophesy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of the same spirit and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 

1 Cor 12:30 - Now you are all the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it... Do all have the gifts of healing? 

Ja 5:16 - Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous man is powerful and effective.

1Pt 2:24 - by his wounds you have been healed.

Rev 22:1-2 - Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude is the key to a fuller life, the way to find joy. Eucharisteo (thanksgiving) envelopes the word charis (grace), and chara (joy). Augustine said that, without exception, we all try hardest to reach the same goal- joy. We all want a full life. We are desperate for joy and will sacrifice everything for it. What most people don’t understand is that joy is found within gratitude. Gratitude comes first to joy. It is opening your hands to freely receive whatever is given. It is seeing the blessing through, and in, even the ugliness. It is based on things that we already have, so joy cannot be “taken away” from us. Practicing eucharisteo is essential to stress reduction because it allows us to encounter everyday epiphanies and fully experience transformation. Joy is, in many ways, the same feeling as freedom & peace.

One of the most important things I have learned in order to live well, is gratitude.  Joy is always preceded by thanksgiving. (Is 61:10, John 16:24). It is when I stop and notice all the little things that I have been blessed with, and acknowledge God for them, I learn that I have indeed been richly blessed. I learn that God is good and that he really cares for me. I learn that God provides. I learn that the world isn’t as evil as it seems. I have no need to compare myself to others, or rue my losses, or be ashamed of what I am lacking. Because I have been abundantly blessed, I can be content. Joy is the result of contentment, which is the result of blessing, which is brought to our eyes through gratitude. I have a gratitude list. I’m still working on it to get to a thousand. But here are some of the things I am grateful for: 

#1. 10,000 bats spiraling out of Carlsbad Caverns.

#41. Bird song every morning

#72. Canyon walls

# 133. Dinner out with friends 

#137. Dolphin’s back flip

#176. Firelight

#220. God pursues us 

#244. Green hummingbird

#372. Orange on the underside of a purple cloud

#513. Sound of rain patter on the roof 

#542. The sun on my face

#623. Wild strawberries

A lot of things in my gratitude list are things in nature that stir my soul, but also characteristics of God, pleasant memories and events, people and places, even some ugly things like # 171. Failure. For without that we wouldn’t know our need for God.  To practice gratitude start a gratitude journal of your own. It helps to be able to look back on it in times of sadness. Add pictures and sounds to your journal and keep it on your phone or tablet so you can add to it every day. Try for at least three things you are grateful for every day. 

Negative Thought and Worry Control

Albert Ellis “rational emotive behavior therapy”, 1997. Emotions are only partially related to actual events. Between the event and emotion is realistic or unrealistic self-talk. The self-talk produces emotions. A. Event. B. Self-talk. C. Emotion. Emotion can go back into self-talk and feed a loop. Unrealistic self-talk leads to depression, anxiety, helplessness, anger, etc.

Refuting Irrational Ideas

  1. Write down the objective facts of the event (no conjectures or impressions or judgments)
  2. Write down the self-talk. Notice which are irrational
  3. Focus on your emotional response. Make a clear label such as “angry”, “afraid”, “felt worthless”
  4. Dispute and change the irrational self-talk.
    1. Select irrational idea. Simplify it into the smallest terms possible.
    2. Is there any rational support for this idea? Is this real or true? Trace the cause and effect.
    3. What evidence exists for the falseness of this idea?
    4. What is the worst that can happen? (if true, if false)
    5. What is the best that can happen? (if true, if false)
    6. Stating the truth- pain and problems are universal, life is not fair, it is up to me to find solution -there is no magic wand, avoiding it is dangerous, I am not alone, problems don’t mean misery, solution exists, I can do this, I can accept this, I am accepted, people do like me, I am free, God loves me, I am forgiven, I have purpose.
    7. Change behavior, make decision, explore possibilities, etc. based upon the truth rather than the lie.

Questions to ask to help identify irrational beliefs

  1. What am I telling myself about this situation?
  2. Where did I acquire this belief?
  3. What if it is true? What would it mean to me?
  4. What if is false? What would that mean?
  5. How do I behave in line with this belief? Negative behaviors? (Avoidance, escapism, perfectionism, isolationism) Or healthy behaviors?

Rules to promote rational thinking: evaluate your thinking on these statements.

  1. The event doesn’t do anything to me, my self-talk does- we feel the way we think.
  2. It is the way it is. Conditions exist for this to occur or to be. To say things should be different is to throw out causality.
  3. All humans are fallible.
  4. It takes two to have conflict.
  5. The best strategy is to make decisions that change behavior now.


Rational Emotive Imagery 1971 Dr. Maxie Maultsby.

  1. Imagine an event that is stressful and accompanied by negative emotions.
  2. As you imagine, allow yourself to feel uncomfortable.
  3. After experiencing the stressful emotion, push yourself to change it to a healthier negative emotion (anxiety and rage are turned to concern, disappointment, or regret).
  4. Examine how you changed the negative emotion. What happened inside your head that altered your original emotion? What was the self-talk?
  5. Substitute a new adaptive belief that produces more bearable emotions.


Refuting Catastrophes

Most chronic worriers focus their attention on catastrophic outcomes, and are unable to do a realistic risk assessment. They forget that our ability to cope is really quite extraordinary. Following the guide below may help you become more objective.

Risk Assessment Guide

  1. Write down your feared event
  2. What are your automatic thoughts (worries) about this event?
  3. Rate your anxiety level over this event from 0 to 10.
  4. Rate the probability in which you think this event is likely to occur from 0 to 100%.
  5. If this event happens, then what are the worst possible consequences?
  6. In what ways can you cope with these consequences? How have other people coped?
  7. What thoughts do you have regarding coping to this worst- case- scenario?
  8. How often has this worst- case- scenario ever happened to you and others?
  9. What evidence do you have that this worst- case- scenario is UNLIKELY to occur?
  10. List as many OTHER possible outcomes to the feared event that can think of.
  11. Which outcome do you think is most likely?
  12. Rerate the probability that this event is likely to occur from 0 to 100%
  13. Rerate your anxiety level from 0 to 10.

Imagery Desensitization

  1. Imagine a feared event in as much detail as possible for 5 minutes. Don’t let the image shift but replay the same image over and over until the 5 minutes are up.
  2. Rate your anxiety level from 0-10.
  3. Use progressive relaxation or cue-controlled relaxation to restore calm.
  4. Do a risk assessment on this feared event.
  5. Imagine the feared event again for 1 minute.
  6. Imagine coping with the feared event. Imagine coping at the time of the event, a couple hours later, a couple of days later, a week later.
  7. Rerate your anxiety level.


Worry Control

  1. Choose Faith. Worry is a lack of faith. Refuse to give into it by choosing to have faith instead.
  2. Remember and be grateful for all the times provision has come to you before. God has always provided for you, so you can rest assured that he will again in this situation as well.
  3. Imagine the Worst Case Scenario. What is the very worst that can happen? You die and fall into the loving hands of God. That’s not so bad.
  4. Refute irrational ideas. 90% of the things you worry about are never going to happen. You worry about the past which you cannot change, the future which you do not know, and your present failures and criticisms from others. When you are catastrophizing, generalizing, or emotional reasoning you need to refute those negative ideas.
  5. Abide in truth. Meditate on good things. The truth is that God is real. God is strong. God loves. He cares for you.
  6. Use Autogenics with mind calming and fear reducing mantras. Simple mantras like “Don’t be afraid.” Bible verses like “Do not fear for I will be with you. I have called you by name. You are mine.” (Isaiah 50). Inspirational quotes like "I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer."
  7. Focus on the solutions not the problems. If you are worrying you are focusing on the problem. Your vision is too narrow. It’s ok to state that there is a problem, but dwelling on the problem leads to fear. What can you do to change the problem? Who can you ask for help? Solutions always exist. They may be difficult. Change is often difficult and uncomfortable. Brainstorm all the possibilities. Try everything- multiple times- until something works.
  8. Eliminate stressors. Once you have an idea of what triggers your worries begin to eliminate those things from your life.
  9. Break obsessive thought through forcing a change. Obsessive thought is where you think the same things over and over again and become stuck in a rut. The only way I have found to break out of this is to leave the house and seek company. You can help activate your will by opening up the solar plexus chakra.
  10. When things become overwhelming and you have a temptation to dissociate, focus on the five senses to bring you back into the present moment. What around you can you see? Hear? Touch? Smell? Taste? Bringing yourself back into the present gets you out of your head and out of your emotions and back into your body. This is generally grounding and calming.

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