It’s time to give yourself a gift and appreciate the present of being present this holiday season!
With only a few weeks left in 2019, a frantic pace sometimes appears. You started the year off with all these good intentions, and now, in the final hour, you feel the need to speed up and produce some results. Add in holiday pressure and feeling obligated to make even more resolutions come January 1st, and it’s a recipe for a rather un-jolly holiday month.
There are obviously a lot of traditions around this time of year, but December 31 as a cut-off date for self-improvement is a totally arbitrary deadline, my friends! Progress is not linear, and there is no one checking your scorecard at the end of the year and giving you a grade. In fact, we’re constantly growing and evolving as individuals, so cut yourself some slack and appreciate the present!
“A work in progress, is still progress.”
I bet you’ve done much better than you think too, so instead of stressing, I want you to make time this month to appreciate how far you’ve come.
Here are my tips to embrace and celebrate the present. (sparkly bow optional!)
Whenever you need a respite from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, here’s a little mindfulness exercise for you to try. Sit in a quiet, comfy place, away from distractions (that means shutting off your phone). Think about 5 things you are grateful for in your life. Take time to visualize each one in your mind, giving yourself an opportunity to let the feelings of gratitude and love seep into your bones.
Once you’ve gone through all 5 things, close your mini-break by thanking the Universe for bringing these gifts into your life. You could say a positive quote or read an inspiring poem you love too. Make it your own, and you’re more likely to do it consistently.
Write it Down
There is nothing like seeing all that you have accomplished — big and small — in black and white. Writing by hand improves our memory, so when you habitually write about the positive things in your life, you bring them to the forefront of your consciousness. I’ve spoken a lot of the power of a gratitude journal, and that’s because in just 8 short weeks of daily practice, you can rewire your brain for greater empathy and happiness.
It’s life-changing, ladies! I recommend purchasing a beautiful journal, if you can, so the whole process feels more special, sacred and personal to you. And you do not have to focus on just “things”, you can also include something you’re proud of each day.
It’s so easy to get caught up in our own bubble of troubles and complaints, but volunteering offers an opportunity to shake it off and take actions towards improving the present — and in a very tactile and tangible way.
Let me be clear: this is not about getting in a dose of schadenfreude (happiness at the misfortune of others). It may well cause you to feel more grateful when you see how lucky you have it in life compared to others, but it’s the sense of helping others and contributing to your community that will make a lasting impact on you.
Volunteer work is proven to have positive benefits to both your physical and mental well-being. First, humans are “hard-wired” to help each other, and it just makes us happier. You also learn new skills and improve your communication and relationships. And according to a Corporation for National & Community Service report, “those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”
So check out VolunteerMatch to find an opportunity in your city.
Treat Yourself Right
I think every woman can benefit from this message: be more gentle with yourself. You are amazing — and you’re not perfect. You have made mistakes, bad calls, and total f–k ups. And you’ll make more in your life too. You need to have compassion for yourself.
If you’re prone to negative self-talk, imagine you’re saying those words to someone else — your best friend, your favorite family member, a child or even a complete stranger. It’s a safe bet you’d never say something as mean to someone else as you would to yourself.
If you want to appreciate your life more, you have to begin the process of letting go of hatred and anger. These negative emotions make a home in your mind, digging up the past and keeping you from enjoying the positive things around you. Click here for my advice on how to create a Judgment Detox and begin practicing self-forgiveness.
What do you do when you want to ground yourself in the present? How do you like to celebrate the positive things in your life? Let me know in the comments below.