4 Tips for a Better Holiday Season

The holiday season is here. For many the mere thought creates panic or an anxious state of mind. No one can promise that all will go smoothly and everyone (especially you) will be happy. There are things you can do to make the season easier, brighter and merrier. Check out these 4 Tips for a Better Holiday Season.

1.  Begin with Practicing Gratitude. 

Research shows that people who express gratitude can experience happiness that may last for up to a month! An experiment conducted by Robert Emmons Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, and author of The Little Book of Gratitude (2016); Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity (2013); Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (2007); Words of Gratitude Mind Body & Soul (2001); and The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns: Motivation and Spirituality in Personality (1999); found that subjects who made a daily list of things they were grateful for showed higher levels of optimism and enthusiasm, exercised more regularly and made greater progress on personal goals.

This is powerful! I do this regularly only instead of making a list, I simply think about all that I am grateful for before I get out of bed in the morning. My day begins on a good note and I’m much more enthused and energetic. Compare this to waking up, groaning, and thinking about how much you don’t want to go to work, prepare for the holidays, begin cooking, go to a meeting, whatever it is you may dread. How do you feel if you think negatively first thing in the day? You are certainly not in a positive frame of mind. In fact, it’s beginning your day filled with negativity. You can change this. You can make a choice of what you think, what you are thankful for, and begin your day feeling good. Believe me you will be much more productive, engaged and happy.

2.  Breathe.

This may sound easy and perhaps not necessary to add since we all breathe everyday, all day. What I’m talking about is to stop…take a slow deep breath in through your nose and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat 3-5 times. Be completely in the present moment with your breath.

When you breathe like this you are turning on your parasympathetic nervous system.That is the part of you autonomic nervous system that slows down your heart rate and breathing, lowers your blood pressure, and sends extra blood to your stomach and intestines so your body can digest the food in your stomach. This is often called the rest/restore and digest response. It conserves energy and allows your body to restore itself and heal.

The parasympathetic nervous system balances the sympathetic nervous system which controls the body’s response to a perceived threat and is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. When you are stressed or anxious about the holidays or any event (traffic jams, a complaining customer or boss, cranky child) all trigger the autonomic nervous system and prepares your body for fight or flight. Now that is good when it is a true emergency. However, our busy lives, tight schedules, never ending tasks, unrealistic expectations of ourselves, and limiting self-beliefs keep the autonomic nervous system on. Our bodies are not meant to be in the agitated state chronically. That causes a lot of damage to our bodies and if not controlled, can lead to chronic illness. 

When you feel yourself stressed and anxious, you cannot always think clearly or be creative. You may be more prone to snapping at others and saying things you later wish never were said. Notice what is going on in your body and mind. Then….simply breathe slowly.

3.  Prioritize & Visualize.

Determine what is most important for you and your family for a happy holiday. Dig deeper….what is the feeling you want, what is really important? Write that down. Think about it. What about that is so important to you? What would you gain if your holiday was just that? What would you lose if your holiday was just that? In a few words write what is most important for a happy holiday. Keep that in you mind, post it on the refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, by your bed…anywhere and everywhere you will see it to remind yourself. Now close your eyes, breathe deeply, and visualize that holiday. Visualize what it will take to have the holiday you’ve always wanted. Feel that vision throughout your body. How does it make you feel? Where do you feel lightness? Notice where in your body you are relaxing. Let the tension fade away. Do this visualization everyday to keep it close and remind yourself.

Now compare that to your list of all the things you would normally do, or try to do. How does that make you feel? Notice the tension that may be starting in your body. Notice the thoughts you are having and how they are affecting your body. STOP! Now go back and visualize the holiday you really want and experience how that feels. Go to that list and cross off all the things you do not need to do if they don’t contribute to your best holiday. For example, baking all those cookies and pastries. Do you really enjoy doing that? If the answer is no, or you would if you really had the time, cross it off the list. Consider other options…only making 1-2 types of cookies, or buy them! Or maybe not have any at all. Have a healthier holiday.

Be ruthless with this list. Don’t think or expect yourself to do everything! It’s all not necessary or possibly even doable. Sometimes it really is the small things that matter. Simplify this holiday season and have time to actually enjoy it!

4.  Be Realistic.

This is a really important step to do. Truly be realistic in what you not only want for your holiday, but what is truly reasonable to do or have. For example, maybe you wish your mother could be there, but she passed away last year. She cannot be there. However, you could honor her memory at this time of year. Maybe share stories of past holidays with her with your family. Or perhaps you cannot get back to your family for the holidays this year. That is what you want most. Realistically, you cannot be there. Get creative. What can you do that still honors the traditions in your family? Or what can you do to start a new tradition…one that makes you feel good and smile?

Sometimes what is really the best is to simply be with your family and/or friends. What really matters is the quality time with them, not all the trappings of commercialism. Be there, truly there, in the present moment with them - that will make a beautiful holiday and memory.  

I strongly encourage you to find time for yourself. Be present, breathe, turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and relax. Simplify. Create space for yourself so you can be your best in all the holiday moments and those leading up to them.

Wishing you health, happiness & joy!

8 Surprising Ways to Get Your Mojo Back...Reenergize

Need to re-energizeLearn 8 simple tips that can help busy people reenergize during busy days. My life is great…I have the career I wanted, a supportive spouse, smart kids, two cars, but I am exhausted and not enjoying all that I have, let alone functioning at my best. Does this sound familiar?

 

Believe me, I’ve been there! My busy life is terrific, but I’ve gone through those times when I am not feeling wonderful, let alone healthy. This is a common experience among busy adults. We are up early and already feeling as if we are behind and tired. And, this is only the first 15 minutes of the day!

 

There is plenty of research out there that proves that as humans we can only really stay focused  and perform well for approximately 90 minutes. Then we need to seek restoration. Taking short focused breaks can help you get your mojo back. Turns out managing our energy is more important than managing our time!

 

If you want to feel you can perform at your best all day, achieve improved health, and feel greater happiness, then you need to manage your energy. This happens by increasing your energy capacity in four key areas: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

 

Rub the sleep from your eyes and take a deep breath. Here are some tips for getting your mojo back. Some may even sound counterintuitive - just try them!

 

  1. Go outside for 5-10 minutes. I can hear you now, “What? I don’t have time to go outside because I have got to do …..”  Just take five minutes, go outside and breathe deeply.
  2. Every 90 minutes, get up, move to a new place (outside is great) and get a change of scenery for a few minutes.
  3. Stand up and do some simple stretches.
  4. Set a timer every 60-90 minutes. If you tend to get “lost” in your work and lose track of time,  let the timer remind you it’s time to move, stretch, and breathe.
  5. Switch gears. If you are struggling to get a task done, stop and go do something different! When you come back, you will be amazed at how refreshed you are. Now try tackling that “difficult” task!
  6. Eat a healthy snack and drink water.
  7. Change “channels” mentally and emotionally.
  8. Tap into your deepest core values. What is most important to you? Create a sense of purpose in your life.

 

Try some of these for a week or two and notice what changes for you. I believe you will find that you actually begin to enjoy your life, your family, and your work more. You will increase your energy throughout the day and actually do a better job of whatever the task is at hand. Taking the time to breathe and reenergize may be one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

 

Shirley Michl is a Certified Integrative Health Coach and owner of Intentional Wellness, LLC. Schedule a free 15 minute telephone consultation today.

The Cha-Cha of Life!

Cha-cha of lifeOk, I am a health/life coach so I am supposed to have my life figured out, be completely transformed into my great self and well on my way to achieving my BIG dream. Right? Well, theoretically that’s the plan, but the journey continues to challenge, surprise me, and cause me pain, confusion, and oh yes, joy!!! Cha-cha-cha. This is one of those times in my life when I feel as though I am doing the cha-cha. I move forward, things are flowing, then BAM! I get shaky, doubt myself, and move backwards. The syndrome commonly known as the cha-cha of life!  Things are shifting and changing…which is good and yet unsettling right now. Anyone else experiencing this? I am feeling on the verge of some great things about to happen for me both professionally and personally. So, why is it also causing me discomfort??

The discomfort is being fueled by my old belief pattern of I am not good enough and should be doing better. My business should be growing by leaps and bounds. Yet I should have the time I want to grow myself in other ways. I should do all this really, really well…probably perfectly. I should not be feeling anxious. After all I am an experienced coach right? I have been successful in my life professionally and personally right? And….I realize I am “should-ing” myself into a state of stress!!

Yep, some old patterns are rearing their ugly little heads and not helping one bit!!!  So, what do I know? Nothing is perfect in life. I know this, so it’s about time I accept this for myself…really accept it. If I stop the negative runaway train in my head and think about all that I have done and accomplished I actually get a better view and perspective of myself.

If this sounds familiar - try this. Write down all the things you have accomplished, achieved, done…everything positive. Now just sit and take it in. Amazing isn’t it! Was it perfect? Never! And, you still did some amazingly beautiful things in your life. And, so have I. Let’s practice this reframing and just enjoy the dance of life!

Fall...Time to Let Things "Fall" Away to Make Room for Possibilities

Falling leavesHere we are...it's fall! Many of us are out enjoying the cooler air, seeing the leaves turn, and watching nature begin to slow down to come back refreshed in the spring. Now may also be a great time to let some things fall away in your life so you can "awaken" refreshed. Autumn is the time for letting go. Gardens and trees let go of their fruits, vegetables and leaves. Nature's life cycles provide great metaphors for our own life cycles. What do you need to let fall away from in your life? Is there a hurt, person, memory, feeling, or situation you need to let go of? Or perhaps you are thinking of all the things you "could've, should've, would've" done. Maybe you have seen others achieve what you hope for or are living the life you want. It's time to make room for your possibilities.

The autumn equinox is the perfect time to strive for balance. That may mean you need to let go of something in order to make room for more balance in your life. Now is the time to STOP!!! Stop living in autopilot just going through all the motions. Now is the time to let all the excuses, self-blame, hiding instead of really living fall away. OK, it does take courage to face yourself, take stock of yourself, truly yourself, what you are about, doing, or not doing. Only you can let the negative, self-limiting beliefs go and get the courage to take the steps toward your personal vision and fulfillment. I've done this, I know how hard it can be. I also now know how liberating and refreshing it is to strip away all the excuses, truly examine myself, what is true, what is not, who I am, what I love, and begin the "falling" away of all that does not serve me so I can be on my intended journey.

It's so easy to become lulled by excuses for not living up to our own possibilities. Yet, we all have a choice...always! You can choose to continue to make excuses or to make a change. So with the weather changing, it's a good time to begin making your own personal changes and open yourself up to who you are meant to be. If you are ready to open your personal door to honor yourself and put the energy and attention into making room for your possibilities...keep reading and answer these questions:

  1.  What is my vision for myself?
  2. What are my dreams?
  3. In what ways do I hold myself back from living my dreams or moving toward my vision?
  4. What are my excuses?
  5. What am I afraid of?
  6. Where did those fears stem from? Are they the truth?
  7. What will I gain if I choose to work towards my vision?
  8. What will I lose if I choose to work towards my vision?

Answer these questions from your true inner self. There is no right or wrong answer...only what is for you. If you find fear is holding you back or there is someone or something that you need to let fall away in your life, it's time to challenge yourself. Reach to find your inner courage, your truth. Allow yourself to release what needs to be let go of. Release comes many ways, perhaps permanently, or maybe just for awhile. Once you release what is holding you back from truly living, you begin to make room for possibilities! Isn't it time to say "Yes" to life?

If you are ready to begin letting go of what holds you back, I am happy to speak with you. Schedule a meeting with me from my website and let's talk! Coaching is my passion and I am confident that in working together, we can open up your possibilities! You are worth the investment in yourself!

Possibilities now is the time

FREE Webinar: "3 Strategies to Manage Overwhelm"

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the demands in your life? Is stress running your life? Are you just surviving day-to-day instead of thriving? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you will want to join me on a FREE webinar - "3 Strategies to Manage Overwhelm!"

This will be a live webinar on May 7th, 2014 at 12 noon EDT.

You can expect to receive 3 practical strategies that you can apply immediately! Why continue to feel overwhelmed and stressed, when you can feel in control and know that YOU can do something to get your life in better balance.

Sound good? Let's get started! Here is the link to register for this webinar http://www.intentionalwellnesscoach.com/3-strategies-manage-overwhelm/

If join me live on this webinar you will receive a special offer to join my "Re-Ignite Your Spark!" online group coaching program at a $100 savings!