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Hi Friends, 

Well, Happy Holidays! While this is a season of togetherness, sharing and love, it is also such a chaotic time of year. I wanted to open up and speak a bit on the stresses and pressure I feel and I’m sure many of us share during this time. With the holiday season approaching this time around I was feeling more overwhelmed than usual. It’s certainly not a new observation that with this season comes stress along with extra financial obligations, splitting your time with family and friends, meeting expectations at work and just presenting as overall great and happy.

I’ve created a small list of things that have worked for me to ease up on myself and what I plan to grab at when feeling this way over the next couple weeks and on into daily life. Remember to take care of yourself and be gentle with others as we get through Holiday Tenderness and enter the new year together. Cheers and well wishes to you all!

No. 1: Dance.

To some, this may sound silly, but I am VERY serious about this. At the end of a tough day (or sometimes at the very beginning when the wake up isn’t quite so fruitful) I dance. I put on music, I stretch it out and keep my body moving for a bit. To me, I find a balance of control and surrender in this. A way to let my body be in charge without overthinking anything. 

Dancing and continuous movement raises the heart rate, causing the body to release feel-good endorphins into our bloodstream. It also helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. So I really feel a positive physical and emotional shift. 

I created a playlist here that hits an array of feelings to dance through. You’ll find Leonard Cohen and Talking Heads to Mitski and James Blake — some personal old favorites and some ‘right nows’ that make me feel energized in a new way.

No. 2: Control what you can.

‘Control what you can, just keep moving forward.’ These are some simple words that I try to live by. I try to remember that ultimately worrying about the things I absolutely cannot control is a waste of time and emotional energy. I know of course it’s easier said than done, but it serves as a reminder to know that all I can do is my best and I can still find control in chaos.

No. 3: Tech timeouts.

I find it really valuable to step away and digitally disconnect and this isn’t just a social media thing, it's a phone thing. I mean disconnecting from all media and all notifications even if just for a short amount of time. My phone contains access in some way or another to every stress in my life and it’s tough to get a clear mind or even finish a thought with a hand full of distractions — emails, slack messages, text messages, Instagram messages, missed calls, news articles. It’s so easy to mindlessly consume and before you know it, you’re really only disconnecting to sleep. 

I’ve applied one simple rule into my daily: No phone the first hour i’m awake and the last hour before I go to sleep. Of course, I know this is also easier said than done and I haven’t been perfect about this rule every day but I have I’ve found found some more consistency in this to help me get more out of each day and leaves me feeling not only more at ease but more accomplished.

No. 4: Small self treats.

First of all there, is no denying that the holidays are expensive with gifts and dinners and travel. It’s important for me to put some emphasis on self-care in small and regular ways that don’t add stress of expense. It’s about gifting myself little experiences I enjoy. I know for everyone this is different - but something that is thoroughly enjoyable and doesn’t need to cost much, or anything at all. For me, it’s making floral arrangements. I’ll go ponder a floral selection (or sometimes my partner will just pick out a random selection and I like to see what I can make of it) I try to visualize in my mind how they will come together and where to be placed. This simple process brings me happiness in the act of creating as well as living in that creation for some time. 

For others maybe it’s reading a book, playing a video game or watching a few episodes of your favorite show. Simply, identify something that can exist as a piece of happiness without guilt and act on those small indulgences when you do have moments to yourself.

No. 5: Release.

And lastly, I suggest communicating your feelings. There's a lot of expectation that lies within the season to impress or just generally be ‘okay.’ Remember that it’s always good to express yourself and be gentle with each other, most likely others are feeling a lot of this too. If we’re careful and if we’re kind we’ll end 2019 as strong as we entered it.