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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Amidst the Stress and Chaos of the Holiday Season--Find Your Silent Night

The intense traffic. The lights and blowup figures. The crush of people shopping, or attending concerts or choral presentations. Busy, hectic schedules. Plenty to do. Wrapping gifts. Baking. Decorating your house. Attending parties. Eating too much sugar.
This time of year is one of activity and stress, as we prepare for a holiday period that tends to stretch from late November all the way through the month of December. Sometimes we nearly drop from exhaustion. Sometimes we fight colds and other illnesses that attack because of exposure to lots of people with various types of illnesses and depleted immune systems. 

No matter how good you are at organizing your time and parceling your energy, this time of year can be challenging. Often, it’s a period we look forward to, but that can overwhelm us if we aren’t careful.

Sometimes physical ailments and illnesses make us have to change our plans. Or weather challenges disrupt travel plans. No matter how much you’ve looked forward to the events that crowd the calendar this time of year, you may have to make other arrangements when something comes along that makes change necessary. 

I remember being leveled as a teenager for three weeks─a time when I was unable to even get out of bed, let along sing in our choir’s concert, attend the big 9th grade dance, or do my Christmas shopping. Sometimes, the holiday season has to pass you by, like it did me that year.

When chaos and stress reign over your life because of the demands on your time, the sheer number of events on your calendar, or the demands those you love put on you because they want you to share the holiday with them, it is important to find a way to protect yourself.
During those times, you may need some time of peace. Some time when you can get away from the hustle and bustle and replenish your energy. This is especially true if you’re an introvert. It isn’t that introverts don’t like people, or don’t want to be around them. It’s that we need to have time alone to replenish our energy. While extroverts replenish themselves around people, introverts replenish alone.

This time of the year, it’s helpful to search out some a Silent Night. Amidst the hustle and bustle, and the noise of holiday preparations and celebrations, it’s important to be able to find time when you can lose yourself in silence. The silence can take many forms:

  • It can be the silence of prayer or meditation
  • It can be the sound of snow falling softly
  • It can be the comforting sound of horses eating grain in the shelter of a barn
  • It can be a hike along a trail in the mountains
  • IT can be sitting by a fire, staring at the flames, and listening to the soft sounds of crackling and whooshing
  • It can be standing at the door to your house or apartment, staring up at the stars that light the clear winter night·  

No matter what your “Silent Night” sounds like or how you create it, it can offer you a respite from the stress and noise of holiday preparations. It provides you with a balance that makes the enjoyment of this season possible and far less stressful.

The best way to make this time of year truly a celebration and a special time you can enjoy is by balancing it with the relaxation, the calm, the peace, and the silence we can each find if we take the time and energy to bother.

It’s definitely worth it. Make your holiday one you can actually enjoy. Create your own strategies for including a Silent Night in your hectic schedule. Regularly. When January comes, you’ll be extra glad you did.

If you want ideas for doing this, feel free to email me at Linda@InnerResourceCenter.com or call me at 865-983-7544 and I’ll help you brainstorm ideas. One of the things that makes the holiday special for me is to help people move through them with more joy and less stress. Reach out. I’m here, ready to help.

Warmest wishes for a wonderful, peaceful holiday,


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How Do You Figure Out How to Spend Your Time?

The month of December tends to be one of the busiest for a lot of people. Hanukah starts tonight. The Christmas holiday is coming up in a few weeks. A new year is starting shortly after that. People are busy trying to slip extra things into already-full schedules.

When you're hit with a lot to do, how can you figure out what's most important? There's a process I go through to help me figure out how I can make the most productive use of my time, and it involves three questions I ask myself to examine what is most important.

First off, there may be things you must do over which you have no control─and no choice. For instance, if you have assignments at work with deadlines to meet, you may not have a lot of choice in when you do them. Others may be depend upon you to do some task that will affect the rest of the project. If you let them down, like a string of falling dominoes, your failure to complete your portion will impact everybody else.

Question #1 then becomes "What vital actions are you committed to take?" List those, and add their deadlines. Any planning you do to manage your time needs to consider these first.

By the way, those "vital actions" may not just be job-related. They might have to do with attending your daughter's dance recital, or the school's Christmas performance. They might even include the "vital action" of attending your office party. Think about and weigh the things on your "vital" list to see if any can be moved to a lower priority. If not, start filling in your calendar, leaving enough time to complete all the pieces that "vital action" will require. Maybe it will mean showing up on time somewhere, or maybe it means you will have to put in weeks of work to complete your portion of a project on time.

Question #2 is "What is most important?" Once you look past your "vital action" list, there are likely to be other important tasks waiting for you. As you examine what is most important pay most attention to what your values are. Many of us don't realistically have enough time to do everything that may fall into our laps this time of year. What is most important? This requires you to look at your values. In order to be true to yourself and congruent with your values, what do you need to do? Once you have the answer to this, look at the items on your "To Do List" and figure how how you're going to accomplish what's most important. Then, as you consider each item, rank order it, with 1 being the most important and higher numbers being less important.

For me, the answer to Question #2 has to do with reaching out to people. For me, this means clients, colleagues, family, neighbors, and friends. How can I reach out to the people who are important to me? For some, it will mean messaging them online or emailing them. If it's a client, I'll make sure I have time available for an in-person or phone session. For others it will mean sending holiday card with a personal note. I'll make some phone calls to connect. I'll go out to lunch when I can manage that. Maybe I'll schedule time after the holidays to get together. What's important to me is to make a connection. I want them to know I'm thinking about them. It isn't that I don't think about them the rest of the year, but for me, I want to reach out more this time of year. Because that's important to me and my values, I need to figure out how to make it a priority.

Question # 3 has to do with delegating responsibilities. Can you delegate some or all of what is on your "To Do List?" If your house needs cleaning before the holiday company arrives, consider hiring someone to do it for you. Consider doing some of your holiday shopping online, or allocate time to spend in your favorite stores to get it done all at once, rather than having to go back time and time again. Can you order groceries and pick them up? Can you ask that things be delivered instead of having to trek across town to get them? Can you think logistically what needs to be done so that you can make sure you're approaching it efficiently?  

After I've addressed these three questions, I usually have a bunch of things in a separate list. They tend to be less important─like watching my favorite Christmas movie─but I'd like to do them if I can. When time frees up for some of those things, they tend to feel like a gift. Frankly, I'm often surprised that what I felt was so overwhelming turns out to be not as big of a deal as I thought it was going to be. When I'm clear about what needs to be done and tackle it, I often free up some additional time for those things in the "less important" pile. Just because they aren't as important, doesn't mean they don't provide a lot of satisfaction and joy when you do them.

The idea is to take the pressure off. The three questions help you figure out what is most necessary and how you might be able to make things easier for yourself. Once you do, you've freed up additional time to do some of those fun things that bring a lot of enjoyment.

The idea is to use your time is such a way that you'll be able to have a "stress-less" holiday season.

My hope for you is that these three questions will make a difference in your stress level during the upcoming weeks. You can also utilize them throughout the new year. Do what you need to in order to make your holiday enjoyable. Life's too short to be pressured, especially over things that don't matter that much.

If you know anyone who struggles with these kinds of issues, please feel free to pass this along to them. If you want some encouragement, send me an email (Linda@InnerResourceCenter.com), and I'll reach out to you to see how I might be able to help. Most of all, enjoy your life!

Best Wishes for Joy and Success, 


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What Can You Do When You’re Pulled in Too Many Directions?

Plan Wisely to Pace Yourself

This time of year is an especially busy one for a lot of us, and we may find ourselves pulled in several directions. Since I own my own business and see coaching clients by phone or in person throughout the year, I need to manage my time so that I can accommodate my clients, especially when holidays may interrupt their normal schedule and mine. 

It’s also the end of my fiscal year, so I need to pull together my records. That will let me know how I’ve done in 2017, as well as prepare the information I have to send into the IRS in January. That’s the preface for getting ready to file both my personal and business taxes in the new year. Whew! It’s a big job, but one that, luckily, I can do in small pieces.

This time of year I’m pulled in a number of personal directions at well. I’m getting ready for Christmas, which will include participating as a host for our neighborhood party (which means not only decorating the house, but also cleaning it from top to bottom and cooking—none of which are my best things). In addition, I’m buying presents for family members, getting together with friends, and sending out Christmas/Holiday cards. 

While all of this seems a bit overwhelming when I list it all, I know that it can be manageable if I plan the things I need to accomplish and the time it will take to accomplish them. 

How do I do that? I group things together to minimize the trips I need to make to the 
store(s). Since I don’t always have a big block of time to work on things, I do a few things at a time, and combine tasks when I can. For instance, I’ll add the lights to the tree during my favorite TV program. I’ll drop things off at the post office on my way to lunch with a friend I don’t see nearly often enough, and I’ll stop at the mall and the Co-op for horse feed before I head back to the office. 

I will make lists of what I’ll need for the neighborhood party and the tasks I need to get done. By putting it down in a list, I keep it from cluttering up my brain. All I’ll have to remember is to keep my list with me everywhere, and remember to look at it. 

It could feel stressful, but it really doesn’t. For one thing, I keep in mind what’s most important about the holidays, and why I’m doing it all. I also cut myself some slack when necessary. I look for shortcuts—I buy a spinach dip and add water chestnuts to it to make it more special; I’ll collaborate with a neighbor so that preparation of snack food doesn’t fall only to me. If necessary, I’ll get up a little bit earlier, or go to bed a little bit later. I’ll ask for help. More importantly, I’ll deep six any perfectionism—it has no place in my life, especially at this time of year. 

I’ll make sure my schedule has time in it for getting essential things done. For me, that has to do with people (including clients, family, and friends); my animals; and keeping organized. The organization piece is for my own sanity—when I’m organized I’m much happier because things flow. When things flow for me, I’m a happy woman. 

How about you? What pulls at you this time of year? What sometimes makes you feel overwhelmed? What can you do differently this year to tame that overwhelm? How can you make this last month of the 2017 a very special month? If you have some tips that you’d like to share, please email them to me at Linda@InnerResourceCenter.com or share them with me on Facebook. I’ll share them with the people I’m in contact with, and maybe we can help each other. After all, isn’t giving something that has a special place in our lives right now?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and want some help, reach out to me as well. I’m happy to make time for you. After all, people are what are really most important!

(C) 2017 Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D. All rights reserved.