My Favorite Stress Buster

Sometimes life can feel HEAVY. There are days I feel like a balloon that with each stress throughout the day I inflate a little more.  Can you relate?  I hope you can’t, but if you can…

 What if I told you that I found something that will decompress that stress within thirty seconds?

And the great news is it’s free and so fun.

Let me introduce you to a little thing called dancing. Hurray for dancing!!

Such a simple thing, but I am telling you it has the power to deflate stress, soften a hard countenance, mend a rift, lighten the mood, and make you feel great. Children absolutely love it. They were born to wiggle and bop to music, and they love doing it with their parents.

My two-year old is a dancer at heart. Which is not surprising to me at all because before we got pregnant with her, I prayed that we would have a girl, that she would look like me, and have my personality. I wasn’t even thinking about dance when I asked God for her to be like me, but He’s always into the details. I grew up dancing off and on, and to this day, I absolutely love to dance. I tell God that I will be the one dancing before His throne in Heaven.  I’ll have boundless energy, and I just may never stop!

My man also likes to dance. He’s a mean swing dancer and can toss me around the kitchen floor like a rag doll. He’s also not afraid to jump around in silly ways to make the kids laugh. So if Dad is home, we are all dancing.

We break out in dance parties almost every day at our house. Usually when we are making meals in the kitchen or doing dishes. I always have music playing in the house, but when we are congregating in the kitchen, it’s natural for someone to say to the Echo, “hey Alexa, play…”. Even our two-year old knows how to boss Alexa around.

The tunes start playing, someone turns it up, and we all start shaking our tail feathers.

It’s an AMAZING stress buster! All the things that were pressing on my mind…gone. Any tensions between me and another child…gone. The to-do list…gone. I’m telling you, it’s like medicine to our souls.  Yeah, some of those stresses come back, but at least I got a much needed break from them!

The most magical part is even conflicts between children begin to float away, like we’ve hit the reset button.

“But I don’t like to dance”, you say (gasp!). Well, I would encourage you to break out of your mold a bit. Try something new. It doesn’t matter how you dance, just move to the beat a little. Your kids may raise an eyebrow at you when you first start, but as you get going, they will probably jump in…maybe not some of the teenagers, but that’s okay. At least they are seeing you have fun.

Which leads me to another point…never underestimate the importance of your kids seeing you having fun.

No matter what age they are, they need to see Mom having fun. Bonus would be if they get to see Mom and Dad jumping around laughing together. Those memories leave deep impressions in their minds.

All you have to do is Google stats on how dancing effects health and you will see a long line of benefits including reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, while boosting body image, self-esteem, and overall confidence. Wahoo!

My heart behind this post is to encourage you to lighten the mood in your home.  Make your house a fun place to grow up in.

Dancing is a really easy way to make this happen.  You’ll not only bust some stress, you’ll burn some calories, and get a really good laugh while doing it too (and don’t even get me started on the benefits of laughter)!

If you are all alone at the house or live alone, well, there is no reason not to dance your heart out.  Making dinner and doing dishes is so much more fun with a little hip swaying.

I hope I’ve nudged you enough to begin bringing dance into your daily life.  To get you started, here are some of our favorite songs to dance to…

The soundtrack to “The Greatest Showman”. We are listening to this everyday right now. So good!

“Bulletproof” by Citizenway.  The lead singer/songwriter, Ben Calhoun and his wife introduced Kevin and I. Our kids would not exist without Ben and Alison!

“Happy Dance” by Mercy Me. Alison, my friend who married Ben is the lead dancer in the video, so another shout out to the Calhouns!

“Love With Your Life” by Hollyn

“Feel It” by Toby Mac. The music video has fun dancing in it too. My 12-year-old son loves all of Toby Mac’s music. He’s great in concert too!

“Backseat Driver” by Toby Mac & Hollyn  This has been my two-year olds favorite dance song for a year now!

“I Feel So Alive” by Capital Kings.  Honestly, any music by Capital Kings. My 12-year-old son plays their music whenever he’s on dish duty. It helps him move a lot faster, and have fun while he’s working!

“Count Your Rainbows” by 1 Girl Nation.  My 10-year-old daughter likes this band. They are a great example of female artists.

“The Cha-Cha Slide” by DJ Casper.  I’m sure you’ve danced to this at weddings. All my kids like to follow along to this one. He takes you through different dance instructions that are easy to follow, like “left foot stomp, right foot stomp”.

“Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. Pull up the music video if you want some dance inspiration!

Here’s some oldie but goodies that will be sure to get you moving.  Toddlers seems to love oldies music:

“Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley & The Comets

“Great Balls Of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis

“All Shook Up” by Elvis Presley

“The Twist” by Chubby Checker

“Respect” by Aretha Franklin

“Chantilly Lace” by Big Bopper

“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison

“Sherry” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  Our two-year old tells Alexa to play this multiple times a day. Even though it has a slower beat, she loves to dance to it.

And what about disco, 80’s, or show tunes? There are so many songs to choose from! Whatever gets you moving!

If you don’t own an Amazon Echo, I would highly recommend it. That is all we use for music in the house anymore. I can just say, “Alexa, play me “Bulletproof” by Citizenway”, and it starts playing! I can play radio stations, as well as ask her lots of different questions like “give me the news briefing”, “what’s the weather like outside?” or Kevin can ask “how long is my traffic commute today?”

But for music, it’s our go-to. If you don’t have one, you can buy one here…

So, what are you waiting for? Bring on the stress buster! Your kids will love it, and I guarantee, after 30 seconds of moving to some beats, you will too.

Ticket To Ride

This has been a busy, and to be honest stressful week for me, as I’m sure it has been for many of you. But last night was a little peek into some of the joy that Christmas brings.  I hope this blesses you and your family like it did us…

Last night my children had what would arguably be the best ride around the town they’ve ever had.  It wasn’t so much what they did, as the experience with friends that made it so memorable. A couple weeks ago my friend Tricia asked if we would be interested in our kids joining them in a family tradition. Every year on a special night at Christmas time, they take their kids around town to see Christmas lights in “The Christmas Express”, which really means a totally decked out version of their own van, with Dad dressed up as a different chauffeur each year.

Tricia has six kids, and we have five, and she is my friend that is super organized and pays attention to details. I aspire to be like her because I am a “big picture, who cares about details” kind of gal. I can use more Tricia in my life. So, in her unique way, she prepared for this night with flare. She printed tickets on gold paper, laminated them, and gave them to me ahead of time so I could give them to the kids. The plan was they would come and pick the kids up in their van around 8:00PM and the dads would take the children around town looking at the lights together while they chatted about what kids chat about and munched on popcorn and drank hot cocoa!


So, the day finally arrived, and I decided to hide their tickets inside their stockings. We did our normal bedtime routine around 7:45, and sent the kids up to tuck themselves in. We waited a few minutes until they were all in their rooms and then Kevin went up in the hallway and said, “guys, I think Santa actually came early and put something in your stockings, so why don’t you come down and look.” The kids looked at him with confusion, as we don’t do Santa in our house (hey-before you judge me, we still do presents and all the other Christmas stuff, but I just never had the heart to play along with it all. Don’t worry, we tell them not to tell your kids!) So, they cautiously went downstairs and checked their stockings. Inside was a golden ticket with their name on it to a ride in “The Christmas Express”!  They read what it said, and they were still totally in the dark as to what was going on, but there was anticipation growing in the air. “Alright, everyone has to be in pj’s!”, I said.  They ran upstairs and came back down in a flash. “Okay, get your coats and boots on!” At this point, they had smiles plastered to their faces, and they were asking us what they were going to get to do. We walked out into the crisp, cold air and stood on the driveway.  After a minute or two, I said to them, “something is going to happen…”, and they looked all around in the quiet. About a minute later, our friends came sailing down the road with Christmas music blaring. The sight reminded me of a cartoon! This big black Nissan NV flying around the corner, Christmas music spilling out of it, colorful Christmas lights strung along the inside, and children’s giddy voices breaking the quiet night. “That’s it!” my oldest shouted. He recognized the van as our friends van. As they pulled up, our friends honked the horn, and our kids started jumping up and down and lots of shouts went up. They had decked out their van, and it was nothing short of awesome. Tricia’s husband Josh jumped out, “tickets! tickets! Where’s your tickets?!!”, and simultaniously their kids flew out of the van to jump all over our kids and hug them.  He pulled out a hole punch, punched the kids tickets, handed it back to them and told them they need it to get in their seats. Tricia jumped out the other side of the van with a basket full of boxes she had made for each child filled with treats. They all filed in and found their seat next to their friend, and wouldn’t have been able to wipe the smiles off their faces even if you asked them to. It was great to see them so happy.


And as fast as the big van flew into our driveway it flew back out again, this time with the Dads in the front seats. Tricia and I stayed back at our house to chat over Christmas cookies and tea while one baby slept and the other played at our feet. (It was quiet and lovely. I think we got the better end of the deal-wink!)

They were gone for almost two hours driving around to experience the Christmas lights, all the while snacking on popcorn, pretzels, and hot cocoa, chatting away with their friends. When they came back they were filled to the brim with the joy that children have at Christmas time. You know…joy. Like, the joy that kids can bubble up with out of nowhere. I’ve learned that children don’t need much to be overwhelmed with joy.

Don’t you sometimes wish you had more joy? I know I do. I struggle with that. When I was about sixteen I was diagnosed with depression. I don’t know if I really did have depression or if I was just stuck in the muck of being a teenager. Regardless, that word labeled me for a while. I went on medication, but also dove into God’s Word to see what He had for my life. As I searched His Word, I saw it. I saw that there were scriptures about joy all over the place. And that He was the one that restores joy. “In Your presence is fullness of joy”, Psalm 16:11. “You turned my wailing to dancing, you clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises”, Psalm 30:11-12.  I wanted to have the joy of a child again so bad. I went off the meds a few years later. I’m not sure I really needed them in the first place. What I do know I needed was lots and lots of booster shots from God’s Word (of course I have to put a disclaimer here: if you are suffering from depression, please DO see a Dr and get on anti-depressants if that’s what you think you need. I will have more posts on this subject since it is close to my heart). These days it’s not very often that I feel overcome with depression, (thank the Lord) but when it comes knocking on my door, I go to God.  I now KNOW that in His presence is fullness of joy.  But I also think that God knows life is really hard, and He has put a sweet deposit of joy into our children. And I love when I see it spill out. It’s like, “yes! They still have it.” Like the bell in The Polar Express that rang for the children but faded as they grew older, joy seems to fade as we get older. I don’t like that. I wish it didn’t, but it seems like the pressures and demands of life sit right on top of joy and squish it right down to the likes of an unrecognizable deflated soccer ball. If you feel that way this Christmas season, I leave you with two challenges. One, take your kids out this week to look at the lights. Send them up to bed like usual, and then surprise them. Tell them to pile in the car, have some hot (warm for safety!) cocoa ready, and some other treat, and start driving.  Maybe even pick up some friends along the way! They will love it, and they will probably remember it forever. And two, don’t check joy at the door of adulthood. Make time in life for the things that make you feel like a kid again. Think back to it. That feeling where life felt just amazing. Pray that God will bring your joy back. Pray that He will give you ideas of how to awaken it.  He will.  And as you drive your children or grandchildren around, watch their faces light up, and try to match their excitement. It may feel weird, but just try. You may surprise yourself…and them too!