Staying in Balance over the Holidays

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.

Happy Holidays!

© Astrid Baumgardner 2010