The holiday season can be hectic, and at times, even stressful. If you want to take some of the stress out of your holiday and replace it with joy, here are 18 simple ideas and tips for gift giving, meaningful traditions, and caring for yourself. [Read more…] about Simple Ways to Bring More Joy to Your Holiday Season
Just over a month ago, my husband and I adopted a dog from an animal shelter three hours from our house. We had been planning to get a puppy but were committed to adopting from a shelter or animal rescue. The animal shelter we drove to had a lot of puppies for adoption and we found Marley, an Australian Shepherd/Kelpie mix.
Do You Say “Yes” When You Should Say “No”?
We all want to lend a hand and help out where we can, but sometimes saying yes can cost us our own happiness and peace of mind. I know I hate to disappoint people when they need help, and I may even be too much of a “people pleaser” sometimes. Do you find yourself doing the same thing?
This “can-do” attitude has certainly helped me in my career and in climbing the corporate ladder. I became the Chief Operating Officer at a managed care company before I was 35. There’s no doubt one of the biggest reasons for my success was my willingness to take on big projects and work long hours without complaining. I was the go-to person for tough assignments.
What Is That “Yes” Costing You?
My “success” came at a big price however: I missed spending quality time with my family. When I was home, I was exhausted. I had also gained some extra weight and started to experience health issues. While I earned a decent salary, it wasn’t commensurate with the amount of responsibility I had. It turned out I was too agreeable when it came to salary too. I was working hard, but not very smart. I was miserable.
Have you ever thought about how your clutter might be holding you back? We all have “stuff” but clutter keeps you from moving forward in your life, leaves you feeling guilty, and makes you feel overwhelmed.
- Boxes of things you packed away because you don’t want to deal with them,
- Items you only keep because they were a gift, inherited, or because you feel you “have to”,
- Clothes in your closet that still have the tags, don’t fit, or that you never wear,
- Items stored out of fear you may one day need them again, although you haven’t used them in more than a year,
- Electronic clutter such as an overflowing inbox, and
- Multiples of the same item.
The list could go on and on but what it comes down to is that clutter includes any item that doesn’t bring you joy or enhance your life in some way. Clutter takes up space in our lives and our homes creating unnecessary stress and chaos, and makes it more difficult for us to take care of ourselves and the people we care about.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle
An anchor is a device that is used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. When the vessel starts to drift away from its intended location, the anchor helps protect it by securing its spot and not letting it drift too far away.
When you think about it, some of our habits serve as anchors for us. When we start to drift away from where we want to be, there are certain habits you can start doing that will almost immediately help bring you back to your center and to your intended direction.
Activities or Practices That Help Anchor Us
One of my anchor habits is yoga. If I maintain a regular yoga practice of at least once a week (twice or more times per week is better, and daily is ideal), then it is much easier for me to maintain my other health and fitness habits of eating more vegetables, drinking eight or more glasses of water per day, maintaining a healthy weight, and relaxing more and being present in the moment. When I stop doing yoga, I tend to drift out to sea a bit, my healthy eating habits start to slip, and I feel more stressed and less like myself.
Anchor Habits At Home
Another example of an anchor habit that we often see in the home is keeping a clean sink. You will find if you are able to keep your sink clean, meaning the dishes are all washed and put away or in the dishwasher, it is easier to keep the rest of your house clean. Once a few dishes start to stack up on your sink or counter, it can be easy to begin to drift and before you know it, you have a much larger mess. Making the bed is another example. If you have the habit of making your bed every day, it’s easier to stay on track and anchored with the rest of your room.
Finding focus may be the biggest challenge individuals face in our time. Information streams non-stop from our radios, televisions, computer, social media sites, and our mobile phones. With this almost never-ending noise, it’s no surprise that many of us feel stressed and overwhelmed at times, wondering how we will ever keep up with everything. The truth is, we can’t.
Pablo Picasso said it best, “Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” We all need time away from the noise, time to reflect and time to create. In Leo Babauta’s new book, focus he says, “Our ability to focus will allow us to create in ways that perhaps we haven’t in years. It’ll allow us to slow down and find peace of mind. It’ll allow us to simplify and focus on less — on the essential things, the things that matter most.”
- Disconnect: Find time each day, and possibly for an entire day or week, to just disconnect from technology.
- Separate your day into times for creating and times for consuming and and communicating, “and never the twain shall meet.”
- Develop focus rituals such as morning quiet time or starting off the day by putting together a simple to-do list.
- Clear distractions: remove unnecessary distractions from your work environment, and from your life. We got rid of cable television almost a year ago and have no regrets, we can still watch movies occasionally without a television being on all the time.
- Only use email during pre-set times, constantly checking your email and responding to others is a time and energy drain. Establish set times for this task and communicate it to others so they know when you will respond.
- Simplify, simplify, simplify – Just like Thoreau used to say, simplifying your life will make it easier, more enjoyable, and allow room for you to focus on the important things.
- Do work that excites you – When you wake up in the morning, think about the things you need to do and allow yourself time to work on those projects that excite you.
What things do you do to help you focus? What are the challenges you face?