For most people the next month tends to be busy, frantic and stressful. Yet it is intentioned to be a time at least in part of relaxing, connecting and recharging.
The good news is that you have a choice and direct hand in how the next month plays out. You have a choice in the intentions you set, what you want to feel and experience and what you want to create for yourself and those around you.
With absolute clarity, intentional action and determined courage to make different choices you can start the New Year feeling refreshed, energized and inspired.
Are you ready to make the shift so that you feel more connected, rested and joyful this holiday season?
Here are 10 strategies that I recommend to my clients:
- Build Boundaries: You can only be in one place at one time and you will never please everyone. So politely create the necessary boundaries needed so that you can be where you would most like to be and please yourself and those most important to you. This is going to require saying ‘no’ to some people so get comfortable with it. Saying no and then feeling guilty about it is counter-productive. It is also not your responsibility to make others happy even though they may feel it is. It is however your responsibility to make yourself happy. So step up to the plate and set an example for others, choose to be happy and in the process you will inspire others to do the same.
- Start Soon: With much to do in a limited amount of time and with everything busier and slower than usual you need to get organized and you need to get started now. Systematically create and work your way through your ‘to do’ list. Create a schedule of what you will do every day and delegate what you can. This is one time where “slow” and steady can also be sane and satisfying. Be disciplined in getting a few things down every day and enjoy the sanity of being complete and avoiding the last minute rush and panic most experience.
- Retain Routines: Retain your daily routines such as exercising, mediation, journaling etc. Often these are the first things people feel they don’t have time for and tend to drop. However these are also the very things that will keep you energized and help you manage your stress levels. You may need to cut back somewhat, but whatever you do, don’t completely drop these. Anything will be better than nothing so do 30 minutes of interval training instead of an hour long workout, journal for 10 minutes instead of 20, meditate for 5 minutes instead of 15. In addition to helping to maintain your health, keeping your routine is also much easier that stopping and trying to start back up again in the New Year – guaranteed. So stick with it!
- Nourish Naturally: Food is probably one of the toughest areas to manage over the holidays. With all the parties and temptations at this time of the year many mistakenly adopt the attitude that all the indulgences won’t matter as “it’s just one week”. But seldom do the festivities contain themselves to one week and before you know it, it’s been a month of overeating and overindulging. Focus on maintaining your healthy eating patterns and be strategic about indulgences –choose what you would most like to have, what’s special to the season and what you maybe don’t have the opportunity to enjoy at other times of the year. At the same time cut back on some of the foods you do eat all year so you create the space for planned treats and special dishes. That way you will not undo the results from all the discipline you have demonstrated throughout the year. Drink plenty of water, watch your portions and alcohol intake and continue to limit processed and high sugar foods. Be sensible. This is an excellent time to keep a food journal so that you are real and aware about what you are consuming on a daily basis. There is no need to put on those typical holiday 5-pounds that most then struggle all year to lose.
- Create Connections: Keep in mind what the holidays are really about – connecting and enjoying the company of special friends and family. So focus on just that – slow down, stop multi-tasking, be present and truly experience and enjoy the company you are in. Focus on creating meaningful memories with each interaction and enjoy and treasure the pleasure of a different holiday experience.
- Relish Relaxation: Make it a priority to relax and unwind over the holidays. Our bodies are very resilient but know for sure that constantly running on overdrive takes its toll on your physical, mental and emotional health and it will catch up with you. Know what works for you in order to recharge – maybe it’s getting out in nature, reading a book, going for a massage, having a bubble bath without interruption. Not only will your body thank you but so will the people around you because by taking care of yourself you will better be able to support and take care of them. As with everything in life be explicit in your communications to those around you so that they know when you are going off the grid and for how long – make it a non-negotiable non-interruptible period and encourage others in your life to do the same.
- Champion Compassion: We all have challenges and burdens and the holiday season is often a time when we feel these more than ever – missing loved ones who are no longer with us, the pressures of providing what we would want for our families and not always being able to – you really never know the pain that someone else is carrying. So especially at this time of year be a little more patient, a little kinder, a little more generous with everyone you come across and maybe always be asking yourself – what could I do to make their day easier and happier, what could I do to make them feel appreciated? Imagine the impact in your community if everyone carried that through their day.
- Balance Budgets: One of the most common stresses I hear from clientsis the pressure they feel at this time year in regard to gift giving and entertaining. So again keep in mind the true spirit of the holidays, which is about connecting with those you, love and being present regardless of presents. Create a budget that you can manage and that is not going to result in you starting off a new year under self-imposed financial strains.
- Patiently Prepare: What do I mean by this? Be proactive and as much as possible and anticipate all possible obstacles and stressors that may come your way and consider possible solutions to deal with them. Anticipating challenges and having solutions puts you in the driver’s seat, which will always be less stressful and damaging to your health. For example if you know that every year at your family get-together there is one relative who pushes your buttons – plan ahead of time how you will deal with them differently, plan a stress relieving activity right afterwards so that you do not go home and sabotage your best efforts to stay healthy and well.
- Vigilantly Volunteer: This is a time of year where so many are without – without family, food, a home, the means to provide for families and especially children. So find an organization, charity or cause and contribute in some way. There is nothing more rewarding than helping those in need to help you feel fulfilled and appreciate all you have. Get out into your community and truly make a difference in some way or another. You will be thankful you did!
Identify the challenges you anticipate or the areas you want to handle differently this year and start putting your solutions in place. Remember you have a choice in how you manage your life so make choices that are empowering and that create the experiences and life you want.
Until next week – embrace your inner truth, live your purpose and make your contribution in the world.
With gratitude and appreciation,