holiday season

The Holiday Time and Energy Bandits

Time and energy bandits are habits and thought processes that can suck you dry, leaving you exhausted and harried.

One of these bandits, which particularly rears its head at the holiday season, is perfectionism.

Now perfectionism is a wonderful trait – in its place. Some of the places where it is advisable to practice perfectionism include brain surgery (or any kind of surgery), pharmacy, air traffic control, operation of any kind of heavy equipment, including motor vehicles, or any other activity that seriously threatens the health and safety of living things.

But true perfectionists extend this way of thinking and behaving far beyond the boundaries of necessity. Relationships, child-rearing, weddings, and holidays are areas where the whole experience would be better for everyone if the perfectionist could just back off.

Christmas can include a hurricane search for exactly the right gift, which is unavailable due to its popularity, or the ultimate holiday decorations and meal, suitable for a photograph on a magazine cover.

“But I’d be letting people down if I didn’t do it,” wailed one of my clients. “Really?” I said. “Have you asked them?” Turns out her family members were delighted to be asked. They hated her frantic search for perfection.

How to dial down your perfectionistic tendencies? Make a list of all the areas in your life where it is necessary for you to be a perfectionist (see discussion above). Then make a list of all the areas where is merely “desirable,” including filling out income tax returns, making travel reservations, dealing inadequately with customers or clients. Failure to be perfect here can result in spending money or in wasting time, but it is not life-threatening.  

What’s left after the “necessary” and “desirable” areas are the gray areas: being concerned about how you dress, how your home looks, whether you have said something foolish, made a mistake, or somehow displayed your ignorance.

In this context, perfectionism is NOT about setting high expectations or being successful in your endeavors. It is about being concerned about making mistakes and about worrying about what others think. Perfectionism in this arena robs you of joy, of creativity, and of authentic relationships.

Think of it this way – persistent perfectionism is stress, and persistent stress is life-threatening. Any event that you are willing to shorten your life for by having anxiety had better be an equally life-threatening event. Are dust bunnies, disarranged hair, or verbal mistakes really worth your life?

Turn the lights down low (hides the dust bunnies), sit back, and smile a lot. Forgive yourself for small mistakes and forgive others around you for the same. Trust me – you’ll be more popular – relaxed – than you ever thought possible.

_______________________________________________________________________

Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

The Dark of the Year and the Dancing Saints

As the days grow shorter and darker, I find myself mentally withdrawing into a kind of warm, personal cave – a cozy one filled with minute lights and small comforts, in which I experience a minimum of demands on me.Over the years, I have come to realize that the Dark of the Year is not a great time to find solutions to big problems, or to make great creative leaps, much less make magic.  It is more like the time experienced by daffodil and tulip bulbs, snug under the ground, quiet, gathering their strength for the big surge that will come as the Earth warms.

No use looking for experiences that will trigger answers to questions – somehow the questions you are asking and answers you are receiving never match. It is instead a time for gathering in experiences that are nourishing and that will fuel that great Springtime leap.

In the spirit of providing ourselves with soul-nourishing experiences, a friend and I went to a Wintersong concert at a church in San Francisco.  The concert itself, consisting of songs from Eastern Europe sung by eight charmingly costumed women, was a revelation.  We were told that caroling predates Christianity, and consists of songs that fulfill that human need to find light, joy and community in the darker months.

As if that were not enough, the sanctuary in which the concert was held was a revelation in itself.  From top to bottom, the walls were covered with vividly colored paintings of saints, as defined by the parishioners, all dancing together.  St. Thomas Aquinas, John Coltrane, Florence Nightingale, Anne Frank, Francis of Assisi, Barnabas, Sojourner Truth, Paul of Tarsus, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Graham, and more, all joined hands in the dance. Somehow Lady Godiva was in the mix, too, as were several Seraphim, all similarly clothed (or unclothed). As a friend of mine once remarked, “The Lord certainly loves diversity.  He created so much of it.”

It was a magic experience.  All of these people, spanning centuries and representing a myriad of different belief systems, somehow came together to create a harmonious whole.  It may have been pure fantasy, but it was the most hopeful thing I have seen all year.
May we all dance together as harmoniously in 2014, and may the magic of the holiday season grow in you, and burst forth triumphantly as the light returns.

_______________________________________________________________________

Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Simple Gifts

Personal note

Last night I traveled through the first snowstorm of the season to give my new talk, “The Roadmap to Cherish,” to a group of divorcing women. Apprehensive and fearful about the process through which they are going, they nevertheless were thoughtful and even humorous about the plight of the person who has experienced what was perceived as the safety of a relationship, only to find that the floor has been pulled out from underneath.

Their comments made me think more fully about how important it is to nurture and learn to cherish ourselves. If Christmas emphasizes the spirit of giving, the concept doesn’t rule out giving to oneself. Or as one person put it, “Self-care” is not the same as “Selfish.”

Think about it as you acquire gifts for everyone this holiday season.

The Best Christmas Gift of All!

Are you feeling overwhelmed and undervalued? Is a little inner voice saying, “All I really want for Christmas is to be cherished”?

You can get out of overwhelm and turn “undervalued” into “highly valued,” using my simple Roadmap that will take you there in five amazingly powerful steps.

Find out how to feel and be special. How? Give yourself a gift, or nudge a willing Santa Claus, desperate for gift ideas, with this Christmas Special, which includes:

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  • Your Personal Profile: An amazing short profile that reveals strengths you didn’t even know you had, and why other people haven’t valued them. A life-changer!
  • Deep Dive: A powerful and confidential 1-hour one-on-one coaching call with Lynette to bring you insight, clarity and freedom. During your hour, you will get some tips to make immediate changes and learn the next steps to completely eliminate the behaviors that have been holding you back from success.

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Simple Gifts

Black Friday has come and gone; frantic shoppers jammed parking lots and then the internet to buy things that speak their love for others – and incidentally to get into debt. But do these things we buy really do the trick? Are they really worth getting financially strapped over?

I was looking over the collection of greeting cards I have received over the years. All of them I treasure for one reason or another; one of them I truly cherish. It is from a friend who is very like me – in some ways. We both enjoy solitude, and can sit together companionably, reading, without having to interrupt or be entertained by the other.

In other ways, such as tastes and lifestyle, we couldn’t be farther apart. I love dress-up events in posh places, such as theaters and fancy hotels. She loves spiritual get-togethers with incense and candlelight. I look buttoned-down and Vogue; she looks mystical and other-worldly. Heck, I am a recovering chocaholic, a taste in which she indulges with admirable restraint. We may at times resemble the odd couple when we go places together, but we are friends, and have been for a long time.

The card that I cherish (and look at frequently) shows a delightful fantasy world, with princesses in pointed caps, a unicorn dipping its horn in a stream, and rabbits dressed in livery and tooting ceremonial bugles while doing balletic leaps in the air, all depicted against a background featuring a large rainbow. (Well, ok, you have to see it, but trust me, it represents my inner world.) The wonder is that she knew this when she saw it and sent it to me.

It took me a few years of gazing at this card to recognize a truth: She knows who I am, and she likes me for it!

How often do we give gifts that we think would complete our fantasy of the other person: an item of clothing a little more upscale or flattering (in our opinion) than the other person would have chosen, for example. A gift that is a little hint, a nudge in what we believe is the right direction.

How much more difficult it can be to honor the real person, but how rewarding.

In these financially difficult times, the best gift of all can be within your budget. It doesn’t have to be a fancy object. How about a card offering to take the person to an event you know he or she would love, but you would not? You might ordinarily be bored to tears by a poetry reading, for example, but you would be generously sharing your time – and finding out more about that person than you knew beforehand. Or you could offer to perform some task that would be very helpful but difficult for the recipient to do.

It doesn’t even have to be the “right” card, one with just the right sentiment. A home-made one will do just fine to express your feelings, as kindergarteners everywhere know.

Your gift could simply be words of appreciation that you realize you have thought for years but have never put on paper or released into the atmosphere. Christmas couldn’t be a better time to do so.

The release of your positive feelings, as your pour them onto paper or into your actions, increases the capacity of your brain to have positive experiences. What could be more nurturing, more cherishing for you?

The Confident Introvert

Another myth I have encountered recently is that introverts are fine with no outside contact whatsoever. No, we enjoy contacts and stimulation that we get outside of our own nests; we just need to control how much we get all at one time.

A great party with lots of people may be very enjoyable for a confident introvert – for a limited time. We’re the ones who leave early when we’ve had enough stimulation, just as some people quit eating when they’ve had enough.

It’s not a reflection on the host. It’s a reflection of the fact that we recognize and pay attention to our inner needs, always a healthy way to live.

Find out more about The Confident Introvert: http://www.ConfidentIntrovert.com

Choose Your Foods and Choose Your Moods

Personal note

Thanksgiving has just come upon us (and follows us around in the form of leftovers) with all its claims on our energy – shopping, food preparation, traveling, dealing with people we may not see very often (some of them difficult), and … oh, yes, overeating.

I started early this year by taking a brain-impaired friend to a restaurant for a full turkey dinner on Monday, while contemplating the upcoming full turkey dinner on Thursday. Luckily, we ate at noon, and while I went home feeling overstuffed and vaguely as if I had been force-fed, I rounded out the day with a large plate of sautéed kale followed by a cup of sliced peaches for Monday’s supper. At the end of the day, I had actually eaten a fairly well-balanced diet despite my midday excesses. More importantly, I had restored some balance to the way I felt, psychologically as well as physically.

Along the way I mused on how much I have learned about how our moods – those strange, seemingly unpredictable waves that surge over us – actually are related to what we take into our bodies.

Nobody wants to forgo the pleasures of the holiday season, in which one of the major emphases is food. We just need to be aware that overeating may make us sluggish, fretful, despondent, and even irritable, and that by making mindful choices we can fully enjoy the holiday.

***
The Roadmap to Cherish
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If you have not felt valued, nurtured, or treasured, this class offers a roadmap to reclaiming your dreams and provides the very real steps you can take to cherish yourself … and to teach others to cherish you.
When:  December 3, 2013  –   6:30 to 7:30 Networking  –   7:30 Program begins
Space is limited!  Register:  Click Here

*Rediscovering U offers women divorce education, support, and empowerment, and provides the tools for transformation and healing.

Choose Your Foods and Choose Your Moods

The holidays can be a time of moods that go up and down. It’s easy to assume that changing moods are the result of what happens to you, or worse yet, just something that comes over you without any explanation whatsoever. Wouldn’t you like to have a way to choose how you feel? A way that works fairly rapidly, despite external stress?

One way is to avoid automatic eating & drinking. Get off automatic pilot; instead, pause, think, and choose.

For example, coffee and sugar may rev up your nervous system. This is not the same as having energy. These foods may make you highly motivated to do something – but is it the right and the reasonable thing to do? And do you need a lot of energy – maybe nervous energy – to do what you’re doing? Some tasks call for long, slow-burning energy. Others call for calmness.

Here are some things you can select to help you choose more serene moods:

If you want slow-burning energy and calmness, try complex carbohydrates, such as milk or oatmeal. Whole grains such as oatmeal or bran muffins, especially in the morning, will give you slow-burning energy that will stay with you for several hours, and decrease your appetite for the fats, sugars, and salts that we all crave when we are under stress.

Try green tea, which has calming properties that outweigh the caffeine it contains by altering levels of the brain’s own anti-anxiety medication.

Nuts, with their protein content, are always a great and satisfying portable treat. They are especially good if you eat the non-greasy, unsalted kind. And they can keep you away from the donuts, cookies, and other sweets that call to you when you’re tired.

One nut in particular stands out: the pistachio. Who knew these nuts could actually calm you? The most recent finding is that these delicious nuts actually relax your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure and helping you to feel calmer!

Foods that contain lots of Omega 3 (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, walnuts) can reduce anxiety and even pain, due to an anti-inflammatory effect. Ground flaxseed, another food rich in Omega 3, can be sprinkled on cereal or put into biscuits or breads for additional delicious flavor.

And the great news here is that Omega 3 has been found to not only reduce, but to reverse the signs of aging!

All this, just for choosing the right foods!

See, when you recognize you have a choice, and deliberately choose what you put in your body, you are more in charge than you may have thought.

The Confident Introvert

Another myth I have encountered recently is that introverts are fine with no outside contact whatsoever. No, we enjoy contacts and stimulation that we get outside of our own nests; we just need to control how much we get all at one time.

A great party with lots of people may be very enjoyable for a confident introvert – for a limited time. We’re the ones who leave early when we’ve had enough stimulation, just as some people quit eating when they’ve had enough.

It’s not a reflection on the host. It’s a reflection of the fact that we recognize and pay attention to our inner needs, always a healthy way to live.

Find out more about The Confident Introvert: http://www.ConfidentIntrovert.com.

What’s in your bucket?

Personal note

In the last week, the air has been filled with swirling irregular shapes in orange, red, and yellow fluttering against a blue-gray sky. The wind whips these falling leaves into patterns that resemble small horizontal tornadoes, scudding across the pavement and finally piling up, ankle deep, on walkways, where they produce crisp, crunching sounds underfoot.

I love this time of year: a walk in the chilly air is followed by the bliss of entering a warm house, cheeks reddened and body tingling, hungry for spiced cider or hot chocolate.

Then pictures of convivial gatherings in cozy corners arise, only to be replaced by images of lists of things that need to be done before those convivial gatherings can actually be scheduled.

We need to consider trimming those lists before we even think of trimming the house or tree. That’s what this week’s article is all about.

(Note: One of the things I learned, as a Stress Solutions Expert who nevertheless had a heart attack, is that we need constant reminders of stress management strategies. Once isn’t enough. That’s why this week’s article is a repeat of the same advice I gave last year; we can all use a refresher course, including me.)

What’s in your bucket?

Icons of black cats with arched backs have disappeared from stores and magazines, replaced by turkeys in all stages, from on-the-hoof to lying down, legs in air wearing a golden brown crust. Can wreaths, holly and jolly fat men in red suits surrounded by elves be far behind?

Your memory bucket is filled with all kinds of associations with these icons, and every year you try to revive the pleasant ones – all of them. Not just for yourself, but for your loved ones, too. And your to-do list is overflowing.

Does this sound like you? Already fatigued, maybe even exhausted, as you contemplate the (anticipated) demands on you?

The hardest thing to do when faced with too much to do is this: pause, breathe, choose. Take the time to contemplate who you really are right now, and what would most bring you joy. Then do those things and throw the others out of your holiday bucket. Horrified at not fulfilling every “tradition” you have set up over the years? Here are some suggestions for, well, coming to your senses.

Enlist the aid of family members to select their favorite memories from the Holiday Bucket, and implement them as best they can. Why is it only your job?

Oppressed by the thought of selecting (and paying for) too many gifts? Anyone you know well enough to exchange gifts with is someone you know well enough to hold a frank conversation with – about finances, time, health and waste. (If you buy somebody a gift because it’s expected, will it really be used, or just add to the enormous pile of waste we seem to generate every year in the U.S.?) How about arranging a pleasant shared experience instead, such as going to hear a concert or see a show?

Do you think you must send out Christmas cards? Send New Year’s cards instead, connecting warmly with old friends and wishing them an inspired year. Your card (and wishes) won’t be lost in the stack on someone else’s mantel or desk. It may cheer someone up in the dark, cold days that typically follow Christmas.

Determined to decorate your home just like the magazines? But wait, first you have to clean it. Or do you? Elaborate decorations may delight the eye, but you can use the power of other senses to evoke warm and wonderful memories. A few candles contribute a warm, soft glow. A pan of mulling spices on the stove, pine-scented candles or spray evoke powerful memories. These tasks don’t take much effort, and in dim light, the house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean. No one will notice dust bunnies under furniture when they are soaking up the nostalgic atmosphere.

When you’re handling too many tasks, you may be feeling more and more irritable – hardly something your loved ones want to experience. Too, you’re setting yourself up for illness, either spoiling your holidays or leaving you with a crushing post-holiday let-down.

Christine Carter, Ph.D., with the Center for Greater Good, was given an assignment by a mentor – imagine you had been told you were going to die. What’s on your bucket list? She found to her surprise, that she gave up ambitious but unrealized projects to opt for the simplest of pleasures.

Read her article (at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/Living_life_fully/) and consider what you could give up and/or emphasize to make the coming season more memorable.

The Confident Introvert

Another myth I have encountered recently is that introverts are fine with no outside contact whatsoever. No, we enjoy contacts and stimulation that we get outside of our own nests; we just need to control how much we get all at one time.

A great party with lots of people may be very enjoyable for a confident introvert – for a limited time. We’re the ones who leave early when we’ve had enough stimulation, just as some people quit eating when they’ve had enough.

It’s not a reflection on the host. It’s a reflection of the fact that we recognize and pay attention to our inner needs, always a healthy way to live.

Find out more about The Confident Introvert: http://www.ConfidentIntrovert.com.

The “Happiest Time of Year”?

Personal note

This has been the week I finally got to launch my new book, The Confident Introvert. As I (and a lot of writers) have found out, it’s not the writing that is so hard; it’s all the details, such as getting the sources exactly right, that bog you down. Then there was Storm Sandy, isolating my e-book formatter with no power for a week or so.

But it’s here, and I am so excited to share it with a world in which at least 30% of us are introverts in a culture that idealizes extroversion. You can find it at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com, or just go to www.ConfidentIntrovert.com to order it directly from me.

Watch for the free teleseminar I will be giving on this topic on Thursday, December 13.  REGISTER HERE.

Exhausted and elated, I decided to rely on a couple of other sources to round out my newsletter this week. If you are not acquainted with the Center for Greater Good, at the University of California at Berkeley, this would be a good time to connect.

The “Happiest Time of Year”?

We are entering the time of year that, we are assured, should be the happiest. For some people, that’s like being the adolescent kid with acne and uncontrollable hair who is told, “But these are the happiest days of your life.”

Before you put on your Grinch hat and turn green, consider taking the steps recommended by Christine Carter in her timely article, Preventing Holiday Fatigue, in her “Raising Happiness” newsletter, found on the website of the Center for Greater Good at the University of California, where she suggests you focus on gratitude and simplifying your holiday wishes.

Carter maintains that gratitude should be practiced every day, using the frequent question, “How are you?” to trigger a response that reflects how grateful we are for even the small good things in life, rather than triggering a sigh, and “OK, I guess.”

She also maintains, as do I, that the way you tell people about your life and its events determines whether you will feel stress or serenity.

Read her full article at:
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/prevent_holiday_fatigue.

Simplifying your life includes remembering what the holiday is all about, and teaching children that attitude, too. Carter suggests you set up holiday traditions that boost your happiness, and refers readers to a site that discusses ideas on alternative gifts that won’t strain your budget. Just go to http://www.newdream.org/programs/beyond-consumerism.

My suggestions are simple: when you are rushing around like the proverbial “chicken with its head cut off,” stop and ask yourself, “If I am running so hard, what is the prize?” – besides fatigue, irritability, and weight gain (yes, stress turns on your weight-gaining mechanisms).  This is a good question that should stop you in your tracks.

Then follow it with this question, “In the long run, what really matters is ___.” If you have been automatically rushing for a long time, I’ll bet you don’t have an easy answer to that one. Fill in the blank; sit down, pause, take a few deep breaths, and consider what choices you really want to make.

If you aren’t happy moving towards the holiday, what magic wand will make happiness suddenly appear on the day? You hold the magic wand; pause, breathe, and choose to use it now.

The Dark of the Year and the Dancing Saints

Personal note

Sometime shortly after Thanksgiving, my brain seems to go on vacation.  All I can do is wander about, gazing at lights and humming music softly to myself.  There may be wisdom percolating in that brain, but getting in touch with it seems to be very effortful. So I just decided to go with the flow, and in that spirit, I offer some of my mental wandering for my last blog post of 2011.

 

The Dark of the Year and the Dancing Saints

As the days grow shorter and darker, I find myself mentally withdrawing into a kind of warm, personal cave – a cozy one filled with minute lights and small comforts, in which I experience a minimum of demands on me.
 
Over the years, I have come to realize that the Dark of the Year is not a great time to find solutions to big problems, or to make great creative leaps, much less make magic.  It is more like the time experienced by daffodil and tulip bulbs, snug under the ground, quiet, gathering their strength for the big surge that will come as the Earth warms.
 
No use looking for experiences that will trigger answers to questions – somehow the questions you are asking and answers you are receiving never match. It is instead a time for gathering in experiences that are nourishing and that will fuel that great Springtime leap.
 
In the spirit of providing ourselves with soul-nourishing experiences, a friend and I went to a Wintersong concert at a church in San Francisco.  The concert itself, consisting of songs from Eastern Europe sung by eight charmingly costumed women, was a revelation.  We were told that caroling predates Christianity, and consists of songs that fulfill that human need to find light, joy and community in the darker months.
 
As if that were not enough, the sanctuary in which the concert was held was a revelation in itself.  From top to bottom, the walls were covered with vividly colored paintings of saints, as defined by the parishioners, all dancing together.  St. Thomas Aquinas, John Coltrane, Florence Nightingale, Anne Frank, Francis of Assisi, Barnabas, Sojourner Truth, Paul of Tarsus, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Graham, and more, all joined hands in the dance. Somehow Lady Godiva was in the mix, too, as were several Seraphim, all similarly clothed (or unclothed). As a friend of mine once remarked, “The Lord certainly loves diversity.  He created so much of it.”
 
It was a magic experience.  All of these people, spanning centuries and representing a myriad of different belief systems, somehow came together to create a harmonious whole.  It may have been pure fantasy, but it was the most hopeful thing I have seen all year.
 
May we all dance together as harmoniously in 2012, and may the magic of the holiday season grow in you, and burst forth triumphantly as the light returns.

The Best Gift of All

Personal Note

Thanksgiving is over, and all of a sudden I have run out of time. Boxes of decorations are strewn around my living room, lists for gifts and for cards are being drawn up, and food is being gathered in to make sure that friends can be welcomed at any time of the day or night.

One of the boxes I opened contained a box of cards that I have kept over the years because of the sentiments expressed by the giver, and one of those cards is the subject of this week’s newsletter.

The Best Gift of All

 

I was looking over the collection of greeting cards I have received over the years. All of them I treasure for one reason or another; one of them I truly cherish.  It is from a friend who is very like me – in some ways. We both enjoy solitude, and can sit together companionably, reading, without having to interrupt or be entertained by the other.

 

In other ways, such as tastes and lifestyle, we couldn’t be farther apart.  I love dress-up events in posh places, such as theaters and fancy hotels. She loves spiritual get-togethers with incense and candlelight. I look buttoned-down and Vogue; she looks mystical and other-worldly.  Heck, I am a recovering chocaholic, a taste she infrequently indulges in. We may at times resemble the odd couple when we go places together, but we are friends, and have been for a long time.

 

The card that I cherish (and look at frequently) shows a delightful fantasy world, with princesses in pointed caps, a unicorn dipping its horn in a stream, and rabbits dressed in livery and tooting ceremonial bugles while doing balletic leaps in the air, all depicted against a background featuring a large rainbow.  (Well, ok, you have to see it, but trust me, it represents my inner world.) The wonder is that she knew this when she saw it and sent it to me.

 

It took me a few years of gazing at this card to recognize a truth:  She knows who I am, and she likes me for it!

 

How often do we give gifts that we think would complete our fantasy of the other person: an item of clothing a little more upscale or flattering (in our opinion) than the other person would have chosen, for example.  A gift that is a little hint, a nudge in what we believe is the right direction.

 

How much more difficult it can be to honor the real person, but how rewarding.

 

In these financially difficult times, the best gift of all can be within your budget. It doesn’t have to be a fancy object. How about a card offering to take the person to an event you know he or she would love, but you would not?  You might ordinarily be bored to tears by a poetry reading, for example, but you would be generously sharing your time – and finding out more about that person than you knew beforehand. Or you could offer to perform some task that would be very helpful but difficult for the recipient to do.

 

It doesn’t even have to be the “right” card; one with just the right sentiment.  A home-made one will do just fine to express your feelings, as kindergarteners everywhere know.

 

Your gift could simply be words of appreciation that you realize you have thought for years but have never put on paper or released into the atmosphere.   Christmas couldn’t be a better time to do so.

 

Holiday Hints at the Buffet for the Heart-wise

The holidays are a particular challenge for those of us who know we must be vigilant every day to maintain our health through good eating. (Actually, that’s pretty much everybody.) Here are some of the challenges, and how to meet them.
The holiday party, with its buffet of delectable treats, many of them high-fat – cheese plates, crackers, cookies made with real butter, rich drinks such as egg nog – can be faced and handled by using some of the following tricks:
  • Drink a glass of skim milk before attending the party.  It’s nutritious, filling, and will keep you from giving in and wolfing down too many hors d’oeuvres.  And it’s great padding if you decide to have that one alcoholic drink you allow yourself at a party.
  • Bring a bottle of sparkling water with you, in case it isn’t available at the party.  Fill your glass with this festive-looking drink, or dilute your one glass of wine with it, making two or more bubbly spritzers.
  • Station yourself as far away from the table as possible, so that you won’t be continually tempted by the sight and smell of food.
  • When you do approach the buffet, fill up on vegetables (easy on the dip) first; then select the richer “goodies.”
  • Decide in advance what you will eat, and how much of it. Want to treat yourself to a little bit of cheese?  Pick the harder type of cheese (lower in fat).  Try putting it on a vegetable, such as a celery stalk, rather than a cracker.
  • Avoid automatic eating by keeping your hands occupied with holding a glass (of the above mentioned sparkling water or spritzer) while you are engaged in conversation.
  • Don’t try to match the speed or amount that your partner is eating (easy to do), particularly if your partner is larger than you are.  After all, would you put the same amount of fuel in a small compact car as you would a big SUV?  No?  Well, then…
  • Do mindful eating: savor each bite by leaving each one at the front of your mouth longer than you usually do.  Then slowly let it move through your mouth, noting the point at which that particular food really stimulates your taste buds and enjoying it to the max.
  • If you don’t get a real thrill from a certain food, be willing to discard the rest of it uneaten.  If you’ve looked the tray over and selected one brownie, be willing to get rid of it if you think it doesn’t taste like the best brownie the world (or at least you) has ever known.

 

 In short, make sure the actual experience of the feast matches your anticipation by making mindful, better choices.  You’ll end up not only healthier, but happier as you realize you savored the experience and at the same time maintained some control over your future.

 

No Fault De-Stressing

85% of major illness is now attributed to stress. The figure is alarming because it implies that the responsibility for our well-being lies directly in our own hands, as in a way it does.

 

People who already have a major illness feel dismayed, and even angry, about the new emphasis on “positive psychology,” and the idea that our beliefs and moods can affect our physical health dramatically.  They feel “blamed.”

 

Here’s a different look:  we have inherited a nervous system that defaults to a stress response readily, because our primitive ancestors survived by recognizing threat readily and taking action quickly.  Those ancestors were dealing with physical danger, such as the proverbial saber tooth tiger.  Today our threats are mostly social, so the response is not appropriate.  But we’re hard-wired for it.  That’s not our fault.

 

It’s not our fault, either, that we were not trained to deal with the powerful and dramatic stress response from birth.  Even when stress started to be recognized as an important factor in wellness and in disease, training was not readily available to us, particularly as children.  How can you feel blamed for something you, and others around you, didn’t even recognize?  Or responsible because, even when you recognized the threat, you didn’t have the skills with which to combat it?

 

The good news is this:  just as stress can contribute to disease, and even to shortening your life span, so can de-stressing slow down, stop, or in some cases, reverse disease and aging.

 

So what’s stopping you from taking advantage of the resources available to you now?  Books, recordings, classes, coaching – all sorts of things exist to help you, if you let them.

 

If you’re saying, “but I don’t have time,” or “I can’t afford it,” what you’re really saying is, “It’s not on my priority list.”  It can be amazing how rapidly your priority list can change when a major illness strikes.

 

Take a look at your priority list again.  At each item, ask yourself, “Is this worth dying over?” or even “getting sick over?”  You’ll be surprised at the amount of time or money you can find when you really need it in order to make your life better.

 

There is a Chinese saying:  “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”

 

                                                                      ***
It’s not too late to sign up for the Holiday Stressbuster Program.  Remember, the classes are being recorded so you can listen to them on your own phone – wherever and whenever you want.  To sign up, just go to www.CreativeLifeChanges.com/stressbuster.
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Lynette is a member of MVP Seminars. Visit her at www.MVPSeminars.com

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