This is the time of year when sh*t hits the fan.
The time of year when our family and work responsibilities continue to increase, while the number of days til 2017 seem to count down like a ticking time bomb. For many, December 31st feels like an unconscious deadline for our goals, dreams, and well-intentioned thought spirals: What did I do with my year? Did I make the most of my time? Am I where I want to be?
As if to respond, the world of wellness has no shortage of solutions:
- Meditation mastermind!
- Vision board craft-a-palooza!
- Colon cleanse!
But of all the advice, products, and programs that flood my inbox, the ones that stick out the most are the ones that tell me to, “trust your gut.” Two reasons why: 1) “Gut” reminds me of digestive issues and crime scenes from Law & Order. 2) For chronic over-thinkers (like me) it creates more questions than it answers.
When I'm in panic mode, the last thing I want to do is slow down, tune in, and “trust my gut.” But without that pause, my action plan would be a detailed, actionable, roadmap that leads nowhere. As crazy as it sounds, slowing down is the only way to ensure that we take the right actions that align with who we are and where we want to be.
So, in an effort to help you (and I) avoid the holiday frenzy (and ensuing mental breakdown), here are 6 actionable tips to help you slow down and get through the year with more calm & clarity:
1. Separate your thoughts from your feelings
Thoughts and feelings aren’t the same thing. Sounds obvious, but we often jump from one to another so quickly that it seems impossible to separate. For example, “I can’t believe my dog peed on my Christmas tree!” is a thought (true story!) Your ensuing feelings of frustration toward your dog are…you guessed it: a feeling. Knowing the difference in realtime will help you to gain clarity and avoid spiraling down the rabbit hole o’ stress. From there, you’ll be in a better state to take the next right action.
2. Focus on how you want to feel (not what you want to accomplish)
The goal of any goal is the feeling it gives you. For example, wanting to have $1 million isn’t about the cash or what you can buy with it, rather the feeling that those things will give you (whether it’s the joy of buying a unicorn onesie for yourself or the joy of spending it on others).
Instead of waiting to accomplish your goal to get that sensation, why not cut out the middle man and give yourself permission to feel amazing now. You have access to those emotions any time, any place. So, focus on ways you can cultivate those feelings here and now.
3. Do less to do more
Productivity isn’t about how much you do, it’s about doing the right things in the right order. Take a good, hard, look at your “To-Do” List and ask yourself what’s important and what’s urgent. Often, you’ll find that much of what you’re spending your time on only seems important because it’s urgent. Give yourself permission to move things from your “To Do” List to your “To Don’t” List and only take action on what truly matters to you.
4. Say “no”
No to parties, no to secret Santa, no to anything that feels like a burden. “Obligation” is a fancy word for self-inflicted stress. Silence all the “shoulds,” “it’s safer tos,” and “common sense” that you’ve created. Instead, say “no” kindly and directly. Your future self will thank you.
5. Select one small act of self-care
Now is NOT the time for a major life overhaul. Set yourself up for success by picking one, tiny, act of self-care that you can consistently incorporate into your day. For example, drinking 8 glasses of water, not eating lunch at your desk, or allowing yourself an afternoon candy binge. (No judgments!)
6. Be okay with not being okay
The holidays can suck. That’s okay! Trust that you’ve gotten through similar obstacles before and can do it again. The more you resist the inherent stress of the holidays and wish things to be different, the worse you’ll feel. Instead, remind yourself that “this, too, shall pass” and a fresh start is right around the corner!