10 Mindfulness Tips to Combat Holiday Stress

life-coach-washington-dc-2It’s mid-December, and the holiday season is in full swing! If you’re like me, you’re enjoying the fun, the family, the celebrations, the mad dash to finish things up before the end of the year. It’s exciting! But more often than not, all that energy and excitement can leave you feeling overworked, overwhelmed and overindulged.

Several of you participated in November’s holiday challenge, which I posted on the blog about a month ago. I encouraged each of you to, above all else this holiday season, be the one who listens – to the people around you, to yourself, to the season itself. One reader told me that it was just the tip she needed when gathering with family. Thank you for the positive feedback!

Hanukkah is already here, and with Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, we’re really moving into the thick of it. It’s timely for a list of mindful antidotes for common stressors that pop up this time of year.

This Holiday, Be Mindful to …

1. Take breaks.

If your schedule like mine is chock-full of work and personal holiday parties, these back-to-back celebrations can start to feel overwhelming. Leave yourself time to be a human being and not just a human doing during the holidays. Give yourself some time to do absolutely nothing – or say “no” when you feel tired or overextended.

2. Hydrate.

In winter, we’re not as mindful about drinking water and dehydration can crop up as a result. When at a party or holiday gathering, consider making sparkling water your beverage of choice and save the wine and champagne for the meal or the toast. Or to prevent yourself from drinking too much, alternate each cocktail with a full glass of water.

3. Smart eating.

At the holidays, we are inundated with mass amounts of food – often the type of food we wouldn’t be caught eating during the rest of the year. There’s no reason to deprive yourself, but smart eating at this time of year can be so important. Instead of thinking about your waistline, think about how eating in moderation leads to better sleep, more productive days and a healthier outlook.

4. Practice self-care.

This isn’t entirely selfish. Taking care of yourself allows you to be able to be more attentive and calmer when you’re with others during the holidays. Don’t neglect yourself in the name of everything that has to be done “for the family” or to close out the books at work. In other words, don’t be a martyr to the holiday season. You’ll likely find that when you take excellent care of yourself, it is possible to be kinder and more giving to others.

5. Observe, stay curious and grateful.

Around the holidays, there’s pressure: what is expected of me at this family gathering? Will the person I care about accept my gift in the spirit in which it was intended? Pressure can also manifest as loneliness, when we long to spend the holidays with someone we can’t be close to for whatever reason.

But what if you were to observe others with curiosity, rather than judgment? They certainly are feeling the same holiday pressures. If we can approach things with a spirit of curiosity and gratitude, we’ll certainly see things we hadn’t noticed before.

6. Family: Be the solution.

Based on not-so-pleasant past experiences, combined with the upcoming impending mix of different personalities, many of us worry about family drama cropping up during the holidays. Of course there are often very real difficulties surrounding the interpersonal dynamics of our family. But this year, instead of getting caught up in fuelling the fire, commit to being the solution or helping to keep the peace.

7. Listen to people.

Let’s keep our November challenge going! During the holidays, you spend time with people you may not see or talk with very often. The family gatherings and office parties offer opportunities to listen to people who need to be heard. Be mindful of the chances to listen without an agenda and be fully present.

8. Donate your time to help those less fortunate.

The holidays are a particularly poignant time to practice the art of compassion, to think of others needs before our own. There are so many opportunities to give during the holidays, including material things, smiles, time, and emotional support. This will certainly give your holidays more meaning.

9. The “true meaning.”

This time of year is full of expectations we put upon ourselves to get it just “right.” We may tell ourselves things have to look, taste, feel, and be a certain way. We may even think things have to be “perfect, which of course, is never possible. It is especially easy to get caught up other people’s expectations or the commercial version of what the holiday season means. But taking the time to mindfully reflect on what matters, whether it be our religion or tradition, or even the healing power of love, helps us to keep our perspective as the year draws to a close.

10. Practice gratitude.

If you have the capacity to read this post, it’s likely that you have more people, experiences and things in your life to be grateful for than you can possibly count. So start counting anyway, and when you get to 30 or so, pause, reflect and soak in the grateful feelings.

Consider the Gift of Life Coaching this Holiday Season

Need an ally in this work? Give the gift of life coaching to yourself or someone you love this holiday season – it might be the best gift of all! Schedule your free initial Life Coaching consultation today. We’ll chart the processes you need to tune into that still, small voice of your values and intuition, approach every season of your life with intention, and revolutionize your relationships with active listening. Let’s explore how you can have what you want and live with more ease, freedom, joy and meaningful connection to those around you. It can be now and it can be simple.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

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How to “Become More Creative”

How to Cultivate Creativityin Your Life

This life coaching blog post was prompted by an insightful reader question last month:

“I noticed that one of your suggestions is to be creative. This raises the question for me, what would this look like for me? I wonder how many people get ‘stuck’ on that packed hot little word, ‘creative?’ “

Thank you so much for your question! Indeed “cultivating creativity” can be a big, intimidating goal, yet we know it’s one of the highest human impulses. Our culture often labels creativity an innate quality or natural gift. But many agree that creativity is a skill to be learned, practiced, and developed, just like any other. Here are 5 things you can cultivate in your life that may lead to more creativity:

  1. IMPERFECTION. Not everything has to be perfect before you write the next chapter, submit your resume, start networking, put your painting in an art show, sign up for an athletic competition. Perfectionism can be a form of procrastination. Another way to stay in your comfort zone is saying you “aren’t quite ready yet.”
  2. IMPROVISATION. Too much planning implies you have everything under control. Creativity challenges the status quo and gives you license to explore new territory.
  3. NONCONFORMITY. Twyla Tharp, dancer and author of “The Creative Habit; Learn it and Use it for Life,” suggests you stir up your creative juices by asking: Why do I have to obey the rules? Why can’t I be different? Why can’t I do it my way? These are impulses that drive creative people … and are questions the self-labeled “non-creative” people can ask themselves. Using creative thinking and an approach to your situation that is different from your norm can bring new ways of perceiving yourself.
  4. CURIOSITY. Maybe it is time to question the wisdom of always doing things the same way. Sometimes an imperfect balance can help you achieve more than perfect harmony.
  5. SPACE. Are you giving yourself the “space” to be creative? It’s easy to fill our lives with things, obligations, a quest for more. Of course, we want to fill our lives with more beauty, love and joy. But the problem comes when our quest for more (even if the quest is for “more creativity”) is built on “not enough.” We rush around, stress ourselves out and fill our lives with excess and still feel a lack. No amount of doing or getting or “trying to be creative” will be enough because it’s based in lack and scarcity. If you feel you lack creativity, perhaps it’s time to cultivate the SPACE to be creative (a desk for your paintings, a quiet spot to write, a secret thing you’re working on that no one else knows about, a time of day or place in nature just to BE).

Ground Rules for a Perfect World by Twyla Tharp

       No one present who does not belong – no observers.
       All the time in the world. No worry that you will be thrown out or
       that you will go in to overtime. 
       No goal other than to try things.
      No fear of failure; nothing will fail.
      No obligations other than to do your best. 
       We entertain each other: I challenge them, and they challenge me.
      Each date completes itself. The next day is new.
  • How do you see the conditions of your own perfect world?
  • What must you have and what can you do without?
Even this blog is a departure from my usual style … it is more creative! Thinking about creativity reminds me that we have the ability to make choices and build creativity on the solid skills of what we know and do best.

Want to “be more creative” but not sure what that will look like in your daily life? Perhaps you need an ally in this quest. Together with my clients, we find ways to move forward, achieve balance and fulfillment, and create a meaningful, fully-engaged life. Here’s how:

  • I am an Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Certified Professional Co-active Coach (CPCC), and completed my Master’s Degree in Education (M.Ed.) — think of me as a highly-credentialed personal trainer for living your best life
  • I use navigated conversations, powerful questions and encouragement to help uncover the best in yourself
  • Unlike self-help books or the Internet, I will work collaboratively with you. Unlike your friends and family, I’m an expert at the process of changing behavior … which is much more valuable than instructions or advice when you truly want to make a change.
  • As a trained and certified Life Coach, my job is not to ‘instruct’ or ‘advise’ you. My job is to help you explore and come up with the best choices for you based on where you want to be, and develop a concrete plan with actionable steps to get there.

I believe we can change our lives one day at a time. We aren’t broken and don’t need fixing. We have everything within ourselves to create the life we’ve always dreamed of. We are teachable. We can change. With the right tools, a few powerful questions and the intention to create something great, we can get to where we want to be. We don’t even have to know what “our best life” looks like, just that we want to live it.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation and we can work on cultivating creativity together. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.


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