Archive for December, 2010

New Year Resolutions

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Well, here it is again.  The end of a year and the beginning of a new year.  Personally, I don’t think January 1st is the ideal time to stop a bad habit or start new healthy habits.  Everyone is exhausted from a busy holiday season, the days are short, it’s cold, and our energy levels are low.   I think spring would be more fitting to embark on an exercise program or to give up sweets. 

However, it’s never a good idea to put off healthy changes.  I also like the idea of new beginnings and a new year is a new beginning.  So I’ve decided to start talking about changes; that is, how to best make a plan, implement the plan, and follow through on the plan so that the change becomes a life long habit.  

If you’re reading my blog, you’re probably looking to make some change in your life.  So whether your goal is to stop smoking, lose weight, change careers, improve relationships, and so on, my intention is to give you practical tools and help for making these changes possible.  Making a change in your life may look simple, but it’s almost never easy.  In the coming days, weeks, and months, I want to break down this process so that success is possible.

If you’re ready to make a change, I suggest you start with taking an inventory.  There are various ways to do this, but I like my clients to start with a simple list.  Use the following life areas to start your list.  Think about your life as it is.  Do you like things as they are?  If not, what do you want to be different?  How do you want it to be different?  Do you want more of something, less of something, or a complete change?  If you already know what you want, you can be specific in writing your list.  However, if you don’t know what you want, don’t worry about it.  This is just a place to get started.  

  1. Health (weight, exercise, illness or health condition, etc.)
  2. Financial (income, savings, debt, budgeting, etc.)
  3. Work (job/career, education for career change, starting a business, etc.)
  4. Relationships (family, friends, love, coworkers, etc.)
  5. Home (own or rent, moving, remodeling, possessions, etc.)
  6. Travel (places to visit, frequency of travel, etc.)
  7. Self-expression (hobbies, interests, leisure activities, personal growth, etc.)
  8. Spiritual (church affiliations, personal spiritual growth, finding life purpose, etc.) 
  9. Contribution (community service, volunteerism, etc.)
  10. Other (anything else that got missed)

Best wishes and Happy New Year!



Christmas Traditions

Friday, December 24th, 2010

As Christmas is a day away, I’m thinking about Christmas traditions and how they evolve over a lifetime.  Life is constantly changing, but it’s comforting to know that some traditions follow us throughout our lifetime.  

Many favorite Christmas traditions include:

  1. Singing “Silent Night” at Christmas Eve candlelight service. 
  2. Sending and receiving Christmas cards. 
  3. Decorating the Christmas tree and putting out a Nativity scene or other beloved decorations.  
  4. Watching Christmas movies; including “White Christmas”, “Miracle on 34th St.”, and “A Christmas Carol”. 
  5. Listening to Christmas music.  We can still hear all our favorite songs from our childhoods, including “The Chipmunk Song”!
  6. Baking Christmas cookies and other special recipes that have been passed down through the generations. 
  7. Shopping or making gifts for loved ones. 
  8. Wrapping presents. 
  9. Driving around looking at Christmas lights.   
  10. Spending time with family and friends on Christmas day.  

So no matter what transitions you are going through in your own life, there are always some Christmas traditions that you can continue to enjoy.  Depending on where you are in your life, why not:

  1. Keep the old traditions that make you feel good.
  2. Take a break from or stop traditions that don’t work for you.
  3. Start a new tradition that fits your current life.

Since life is busy and it’s so easy to forget about our good intentions, take a moment to think about the Christmas traditions you’d like to have next year and in the future.  Make a list of everything you do, cross off those items you’re through with, and add a new tradition or two.  If you don’t want to stop a tradition, perhaps you can make some minor adjustments.  For example, if you always wait until the last minute to shop or make gifts, plan ahead and start early.  Whatever isn’t working, try something different.  Christmastime should be enjoyable, not a season to dread.  So have a very Merry Christmas!

Stress of the Season

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Tis the season to be stressed,  fa la la la la, la la la la!  

Even if you love the holiday season, it can be tough to get through.  Once Halloween arrives, Thanksgiving isn’t far behind.  That leaves about 4 weeks until Christmas.  All of this hits right when the daylight hours are the shortest of the whole year.  Then you can throw in snow and freezing temperatures for a good portion of the country.  Next take a look at your “to do” list.  Is it overwhelming?  Are you traveling or having company come to your house?  What about work?  Have you lost your job or are you one of the “lucky” ones with a job, but have double your workload?  Do you have health problems?  Are you feeling stressed yet?

Here are a few basic tips: 

  1. Take deep breaths.  When you find yourself getting out of sorts, take 2-3 slow, deep breaths.  This is a quick, simple way to get your stress level down.  An easy way to do this is to close your eyes, take a slow, deep breath in through your nose (your abdomen should expand, not your chest), hold the breath for several seconds, and release the breath out slowly through your mouth. 
  2. Get enough sleep.  It’s easy to stay up late doing everything you didn’t get done during the day, but it’ll just slow you down the next day.  Do this for several days and you’ll be tired and irritable.  Do this long term and you’re at risk for a variety of health problems.
  3. Get some sunshine every day whenever possible.  If you’re really affected by the lack of sunshine, consider looking into buying a light box.  Light therapy can be an effective treatment for seasonal depression and other conditions.  Do some research and talk to your doctor about this option.
  4. Get some exercise.  Walking 30 minutes every day has been proven to relieve stress, improve mood, reduce pain, and provide other benefits.  If you’re just starting an exercise program, check with your doctor first.   People often do too much and then quit because of pain and stiffness.  So start with 5-10 minutes and build up your exercise time and intensity. 
  5. Know your limits.   There are going to be years that have various challenges.  Some people have lost a loved one this year and it’s the first holiday without them.  Others have health issues, financial difficulties, or are going through any number of life transitions.  Take a look at what you are willing and able to do this holiday season and then set some limits.