In my latest article, Top Ten Gifts to Put You on the Road to Success, I shared my favorite strategies to help launch you on the road to authentic success: the Top Ten Gifts to Yourself. During the holiday season, it is especially important to find ways to keep yourself aligned so that you can maintain a sense of calm during the frenzy of the season.
For me, it is essential to take time for myself in a way that honors my top values so that I can achieve balance in my life (items 1, 2 and 9 on my list of top ten gifts).
Making time for myself is essential to me because one of my top values is self-care. I learned this one the hard way after I experienced a health crisis that nearly cost me my life. (If you are curious, you can find out more about this from the video on my home page). So I make sure that every day, I am doing something to take care of myself. In this way, I can be there for my family, friends and clients and thereby honor my values around relationships and excellence/achievement.
During holidays and busy times, it becomes a challenge to prioritize my self-care. Here is what I do to stay in check.
Exercise: I love feeling strong, healthy and fit. I get this from a mix of cardio, weight training, yoga and a lot of walking around NYC. I do something every day. Yes, even when I am tired and up to my ears in to-dos, I make it a priority to move because an hour of exercise clears my head, tunes up my body and enables me to be at my best.
Journaling: this is a cornerstone of my program. I aim for daily journaling and I do it a minimum of 5 times a week. It’s the best way to check-in with myself on how I am feeling, what’s working, what is cluttering up my life, where I want to go. It’s where I dream and brainstorm, figure out what I want to do to move forward, what I am passionate about, what patterns I am seeing. It’s safe, it’s fun, it’s enlightening and it’s essential to keeping me honest and authentic. Journaling is what I do to keep in alignment with my values of self-care, authenticity and life-long learning.
Mindfulness: this is another essential for me. It means that when I am doing something, I am 100% there. So when I am out to dinner with friends, I am not thinking about my holiday shopping list. When I am at a concert, I listen to the music without worrying about what is on my plate for the next day. When I am with a client or working on a project, that is my sole focus. I make time to plan and schedule and prioritize my daily to-do list, knowing that I am choosing the highest impact activities on a daily basis that tie into my long-term goals.
Relaxing: When I find myself on overload and too tired to process anything more (that would be my right brain screaming “ENOUGH”), I take a quick nap, read something fun, do a crossword puzzle or indulge in some restorative yoga in 15-minute chunks (my new habit that I love!).
Staying in gratitude: it is really easy to forget about the great things in life when you are running around “doing” all the time. So I make sure to remember what I am grateful for. This is a part of my journaling ritual and it keeps me honest, humble and open. It is also another way to live my values of relationships, authenticity and life-long learning.
There is a lot more I could do. For example, I would love to be able to turn off my computer one day a week and stop checking the emails on my iPhone every ½ hour when I am out! These are worthy goals that I am looking to incorporate into my self-care. They will happen when I am ready to embrace them. And that’s just fine.
Speaking of authenticity, it would be highly inauthentic for me to say that I do all of these things all the time. Yes, I forget to slow down when the going gets intense as it does at holiday time. Yet every day, I do at least one or two things on my list. And when things start to feel out of control, I remember what I can do and what I must let go of and then I feel a lot better.
© Astrid Baumgardner 2010