“My idea of Christmas whether old fashioned or modern is very simple: loving others ”. Bob Hope

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”  Mark Twain

Ah, one holiday down one to go. Or two if you’re already looking ahead to New Years.  I hope that you had a wonderful holiday and that you’re not beating yourself up over the extra calories consumed while making those wonderful memories.  Speaking of those extra calories, I believe we added two new traditions at our household.  One is Panettone French toast.  Oh, so decadent and delicious.  Using Panettone bread for your base takes traditional French toast to a whole new level.  And the second is pumpkin gnocchi.  We found a recipe online by who else than the great Emeril Lagasse and it is a keeper.  Emeril would say “if you think big then it’s going to be big”.  His pumpkin gnocchi are a big deal at our house.  Moving on to Christmas, we must remember to add the merry to our Merry Christmas.

Holiday blues are natural

Holiday is a time of cheer, but if you are like many of us this holiday left us exhausted and maybe with a tinge of the blues.  That is natural.  The commercialized view of the holidays makes them seem flawless and filled with endless energy and cheer.  The reality for most of us returning to work after the holiday today is that we don’t feel refreshed and energized from the long weekend like we feel we should.  Rather we feel like we need a holiday from the holiday.  Realizing that the season has just begun has perhaps terrified you as much as the scale in your bathroom.

Here is the thing, and therefore why this is being discussed on a leadership podcast.  I have said many times before leadership is inspiring others’ actions through our own actions.  Speed of the leader; speed of the team.  Those that look to us for how they should feel every other time of the year are depending on us now during the holidays.  Does that mean you need an S on your chest and superhero powers?  Certainly not. But if you find a way to manage your stress and anxiety during this busy time you will help others manage theirs.

Add the Merry to Your Merry Christmas

Here are some tips for you to add the Merry to your Merry Christmas

First, don’t wait for New Year’s to make a commitment to yourself.  Start a self-love ritual now.  Instead of jumping out of bed and into email how about taking a few moments for a new morning ritual?  Hal Elrod’s The Morning Miracle is one of my favorite roadmaps for starting the day.  He uses the acronym S.A.V.E.R.S.to outline a routine of silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing.  He recommends spending 10 minutes in each of these areas but says you will make a difference by committing to even one minute in each.  Six minutes.  Friends! We can all carve out six minutes.

Next, talk to yourself the right way.  If that voice in your head is constantly reminding you of how busy you are and how behind you are you are never going to let go of those anxious feelings.  Control your self-talk.  When you feel a trigger for that downward spiral into negativity that usually begins with “I can’t”, “I don’t” and “I won’t”,  replace it with positive phrases that start with “I can”, “I will”, and “I am”.   Charles Duhigg says our habits follow a three part process.  A trigger, the response, and a reward.  When you feel the trigger, that negative voice appearing in your head, change your response to a positive one and then reward yourself with the happy endorphins we receive from affirmations.

Sometimes it is more challenging than others to ward off those negative feelings.  That is why I strongly believe in a gratitude list.  Write down those things you are most grateful for or have a list of positive affirmations and keep the list handy for those times when it is most difficult to quiet the voice in our head.

My third tip to adding some Merry to your merry Christmas is to add random acts of kindness into your routine.  If missed the Mark Twain quote at the beginning of this blog, then here it is again “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”  Hold the door open for someone, smile, give someone a compliment, or how about a handwritten thank you letter for a friend, neighbor, or coworker.  These small gestures bring about abundance.

Finally, adjust your nighttime rituals.  We’ve started the day out to better ourselves with a new routine, we’ve quieted that negative voice in our head and replaced it with a voice that inspires us to be our best and now let’s finish our day in the same manner.  Write down three things that went well today.  Take in a moment for reflection and even add a few minutes of meditation before bed.  Also, make your to-do list for the next day.  Experts suggest that this allows for a brain dump and lets us sleep better by getting it all out of our head and on to paper.

Listen, if all of this fails do what I do; fake it ‘til you make it.  People ask me all of the time how I have so much energy, how I stay so positive.  Answer, I don’t.  I have my dark moments like everyone else.  When I fell those triggers I respond with acting in reverse.  By acting positively, I crush the negativity and begin to believe my own new story.  Don’t be a victim of your story.  Be the author and write yourself a happy story.

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way [they] handle these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” Maya Angelou

“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” Aristotle

And from Buddy the elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

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