Posts In: stress

Holiday Sanity?

December 9, 2018
holiday-wreath


How’s your holiday season ramping up? A few years ago I ran into a yoga teacher I know and we talked about the stress of the holidays. I mentioned that next year I would be doing things differently by choosing fewer things to participate in. Her response? “But by next year you’ll forget.” 

Was she right? I made a pact with myself right then not to forget. I’ve always felt like at the time of year when we naturally want to hibernate, when the days are darker, when our natural rhythm invites us to be more internal, we plan even more gatherings. I decided to be really selective and choose only a couple events each December. 

This year I’m going to Regina, a local sound healer’s event on December 21. Then on Christmas morning my partner and I are volunteering at an event that brings breakfast and some essential items like socks, garbage bags, and flashlights to the local homeless population. That’s it. 

Want to know the other thing that created ease in my holidays? A few years back my sister lived in London and even though I sent my packages weeks ahead she didn’t receive them until after the holidays. In fact, she didn’t receive any of the gifts from my family in time. I felt terrible. The next year I mailed my gifts a month ahead. If I was going to get hers in the mail I might as well send the rest of my families gifts at the same time. 

That was the most restful December I’d had in years. It worked so well that, even though my sis now lives in Washington D.C. area, I’ve continued the tradition. My gifts were in the mail by November 26 this year. I’m not telling you this to pat myself on the back. I find plenty of ways to stress myself out. But I’ve gotten good at keeping the holidays restful and special. 

My challenge to you? Take one minute right now and list the one thing that’s most important to include in your holiday season.  Then take another minute to make a note of some obligation you can let go of. I bet there’s at least one. You really don’t have to attend that staff party you hate or make cookies for the exchange or do the secret Santa thing. Unless you really want to. Be mindful about what would feel good to you. 

By the way, I have two remaining spots in my February Purposeful Yoga Retreat in Mexico. It would make a great holiday gift, don’t you think? You can get the details here. 

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, 
but the parent of all the others.”
  Cicero, ancient Roman philosopher

While the U.S. Thanksgiving celebration is a one-day affair, Facebookers have been spending the entire month sharing thanks in their posts. Nice to read the appreciations for things ranging from the mundane to the sacred.

Gratitude is a foundational spiritual principle. And nothing says “attitude of gratitude” better than a practice that reminds you to count your blessings on a regular basis.

 I am grateful for…

Research confirms what anyone with a gratitude practice will tell you. “Gratituders” (I just made up that word. Do you like it?) are happier, less stressed folk.   

Some people use a journal to list the things that they value. Others express their appreciation verbally or send letters of thanks.

My practice consists of writing a list of gratitudes and then emailing them to the eight women in my gratitude circle. One-woman emails almost daily. Others only send an occasional email.

For me, knowing that I’m going to write my list down means my brain goes looking for things to appreciate.

Recent gratitudes have included being grateful for:

  • Being inside where it’s warm and toasty
  • Water
  • That my partner is taking my car in for service
  • My appreciative clients
  • Access to delicious healthy foods

While I send my list somewhere between 3-6 days a week I’m always on the lookout for things I could include on the list.  I also get ideas from the women in my group (some of who I’ve never met.)

I find the practice particularly helpful on days where I feel down, stressed, or crabby. I especially make a point of composing and sending my list to shift my energy on those days.

Your gratitude practice? Do you have one? What is it?

If you want to start your own gratitude group simply ask your Facebook friends if they want to participate. Or ask here. It only takes two to get stated.

Thanks for reading and commenting. Just might make my gratitude list today.  😀

 

I didn’t take a single day off for rest and renewal during my first year of full-time self-employment. Even though I loved my new profession, my clients, and being my own boss I ended up depleted.

At the end of that year I treated myself to a week at a yoga workshop in Mexico. The first three days while everyone else body surfed or walked the beach I sat in a hammock and stared at the ocean. You know, that kind of vacant, not very bright staring. It was all I could do.

From that hammock I vowed to never again let myself get that depleted.

Why no vacation for me?

Because I was afraid I wouldn’t make it without a paycheck. Now I know that being successful (in my business and my life) means I must take regular time away from work.

This year I rested, swam, and paddle boarded in Troncones, Mexico for a couple of weeks, added some vacation days to a conference trip to Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle, and spent a week with family in the midwest.

But those weren’t my only renewal periods. I highly recommend mini breaks in addition to longer times away. Yesterday I took advantage of a break between clients to walk to a local park and play on the swings. It was our last day of sunshine for months and kids were in school so I had my choice of swings.

Do you need a get away?

The best time to plan your get away is before you’re stressed and crabby, before you have to push yourself through your days, before you find yourself doing anything but work.

But, hey, if you’ve let yourself get depleted as I was and ocean staring is not in your near future, consider an emergency mini-retreat.

And if you need further enticement here are a few more benefits of time away from work.

  • Stress reduction
  • Enhanced job performance
  • Increased creativity
  • Improved physical and mental health

A day off to hike or read a novel, a day trip to a local day spa, a girls night out…  What renews you?

 

 

 

 

Here’s a test for you. Pick a couple of “typical” days over the next week. Then keep track of how much time you spend with your arms forward of your body, your fingers and hands curled.

It’s the position you assume when using a computer, driving, creating some types of art, cooking, using an elliptical machine with arms… If you’re like most people it will be quiet a few hours.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that position. It’s just that your body is more adapted to variety rather than repetition. When you use the same muscles again and again, especially in a static position they get tired, shortened, and sometimes misaligned (along with your bones.)

Unfortunately this kind of muscle use doesn’t give you muscle definition. Instead you can get muscle soreness and nerve pain in addition to numbness, weakness, and damage. In my work as a massage therapist many of my clients experience discomfort in their shoulders, forearms, and wrists. You might hear names like carpal tunnel, thoracic outlet syndrome, or tendinitis.

The repetition is stressful to your body and the resulting pain and discomfort brings a psychological stress. You can’t be as productive. You might even get crabby. You might have to restrict your activities. No one wants to have to give up his or her playtime.

 One of the best things you can do is stretch regularly. For every 30 minutes you spend in the shoulder forward, arms extended posture spend at least a couple minutes stretching in the other direction.

Prevention isn’t sexy. I get it. But feeling good and being able to work and play without pain and discomfort are very sexy.

Here’s one stretch for while you’re at your desk or sitting in traffic. Give it a try and let me know what you think. 

And then check out the next cool tool for a stretch for your off work time. 

 

I realized yesterday that I’d skipped over Cool Tool #29.

Poor #29.

In the past I would have felt shame and embarrassment. Along the way I had ingrained the message that mistakes were bad. I can’t say that I’m never embarrassed about forgetting something these days. But at least I have more perspective.

The Human Element

Somehow I learned that we all make mistakes. It’s laughable to think I wasn’t aware of this simple truth. I’ve never read Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, but I love the title.  What a great de-stressor to not worry over things you can’t change.

Here’s what I do with my mistakes these days.

  1. Get perspective. Is this mistake life threatening? (So far I haven’t uttered a yes to this question.)
  2. Is there a way to rectify my mistake?  If I get a yes, then I take action. If my answer is no, I move onto question #3.
  3. Is there anything I can learn from this mistake? I teach a business class at Oregon School of Massage. I left home without my class notes, student homework, etc. one week. Whoops. So now I park my bag where I have to step over it to leave. No more forgotten bag.
  4. Forgive myself and move on.

What a great de-stressor this process has been for me. It frees up energy for doing things more in align with my purpose and goals like writing blog posts.

How do you handle making mistakes? Any tips to add? I’d love to add your suggestions to my tool bag.

PS. Coaching serves as a supportive way to learn from mistakes and create new helpful patterns. Your initial consultation to learn more and see if we’re a good match is free.

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