What does this time of year mean to you? Do you find the festivities and added friend/family interactions enjoyable or stressful? Some people focus on just “getting through”. When that’s your intent the result is feeling exhausted and drained at the conclusion. We can also get caught up into believing the people we deal with or the activities are the determining factor of how we feel. At the root of this belief is blame. When we blame we make excuses that prevent us from taking responsibility for our lives. What is the underlying issue? Our level of self-care. Yes, self-care. Be careful to dismiss based on sounding trivial. Simply think of how ineffective you are when your self-care is poor and the difference in how you feel and respond when taking appropriate care of yourself.
Part of the culprit is we overlook choices we make. We choose, consciously or unconsciously, where to put our focus. Yet when we’re unable to recognize a choice, we believe the cause is external and has happened “to us”. Where we put our focus is intangible and therefore leads people to often negate choices made. How many times have you convinced yourself because you were unaware of making a choice you didn’t, and therefore the outcome experienced was out of your control? Amazing what self-deceiving creatures we can be.
Stress, though commonly used as a scapegoat, is not the cause. Nor is it caused from our job, a person or situation – though it can certainly feel that way. Stress is ALWAYS our response to the job, person or situation. Have you noticed some days certain people or situations annoy you while other times you aren’t fazed?
What about when you are continually irritated by a person or situation? There are two possible causes. You haven’t made adjustments to your exposure or to your response. Did you just resist and question, “Why do I have to change?” You don’t, you can choose to stay miserable or however you’re impacted. This is what is meant by taking 100% responsibility for your life. Your life includes how you respond which creates how you feel. Response is ALWAYS a choice and ALWAYS within our control.
Recently a very good friend and I were both agitated about a particular circumstance. The more we talked about the circumstance the more agitated we became. That’s when the realization surfaced that the problem wasn’t the circumstance, rather our mindset towards the circumstance! For a moment we felt excited and relieved with a burst of empowerment. Then frustration followed as it was our responsibility to choose a different thought. Ugh! Sounds simple yet easier said than done in application. The challenge and seemingly lack of control to select another thought can be conveniently used as an excuse for many. Here again we are talking about intangibles – mindset and thoughts. Inner work is required prior to seeing outer evidence and most of us prefer having the proof first. Bottom line, the adjustment was up to us instead of outside of us – “not fair!” Unfair is commonly used when we realize we need to make the adjustment and don’t feel like it or aren’t skilled to respond in a different manner.
What can we do to turn the tide on holiday stress and enjoy the season more? I was asked that very question in a variety of ways on several coaching calls this month and several opportunities presented themselves in my life as well. The following techniques will help you practice effective self-care and have more enjoyment during:
- Breathe. Ineffective breathing leads to reactionary thinking, strained muscles and high stress. To learn (or remind yourself) of centered breathing go to www.youtube.com/karengridley.
- Say aloud the words “I choose” followed by what you claim to want. For example, “I choose to be at peace or I choose to be true to myself” etc
- Listen to guidance from your body. If something feels forced, it probably is. Breathe and be willing to pause – even briefly can have a significant impact.
- Focus on “want” instead of “don’t want.” “Don’t want litanies” are automatic for most people. Have one of your “I choose” statements be I choose to be aware of “don’t want” language and rephrase to what I do want. Even as you read this you are planting the seed.
- Affirmations. Inner dialogue is a critical element in our self-care. Knowing about tools without using them is like having a picture to hang, a hammer and nail yet wondering why the picture is still on the table instead of hanging on the wall. Put into action!
- Envision yourself and others encompassed in love and light. This is powerful in and of itself. The other advantage is when applying this concept you’re also shifting the focus from what you don’t want.
Why is this even important? The more you practice effective self-care the more you create desired outcomes. These techniques are applicable at any time, in any situation throughout the entire year. Hmmm, sounds like the true meaning of the holiday season to me.
What are you already doing well? Which area(s) could you use improvement? Above techniques are all simple and can be implemented immediately. Pause and put something into action now. The sooner you do, the greater your success. In fact, want to really commit to improving yourself? Be accountable. How? Post a comment here what action you took and then come back and share the difference it made in your life.
May your Holiday Season be enjoyable . . . remember you will experience exactly what you choose . . . consciously or unconsciously!