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Friday, November 20, 2015

Aim for a Stress Free Holiday
by Hannah Perry

The holidays are a fun time to visit family and celebrate the season. Unfortunately, for the past two years I spent the days between Christmas and New Year’s in bed at my parents’ house with the flu. It wasn’t due to the cold weather or a virus going through the family, but due to stress. I was in a high pressure marketing career with no pause or stop button. Despite the illness, I had to suffer my way through conference calls and emails all leading up to the big event I was managing that occurred mid-January.
The rest of the year I was stressed as well, but the added stress of the holidays and family, and missing out on the fun, made me extremely ill two years in a row. Thankfully, I’m no longer in that career and my stress level has gone down drastically, but how ironic is it that during these times that are meant to refresh us we often end up so drained!
In a previous article we discussed mindfulness, which is a great way to manage stress, but I’d like to provide a few additional tips that can help us all this holiday season:

-        Leave Work at Work: I know this is not possible for all careers but the more you can be present in the given moment with family and friends the better. If you must work then set aside a specific amount of time in the day and purely focus on work, trying to watch A Christmas Story while editing that excel spreadsheet never accomplishes much anyway. . .

-        Eat Healthier: There will be another post coming, regarding this topic, but eating healthier during the holidays will help you to feel better and provide you with more energy, as well as boost your immune system.

-        Exercise: Proven to be a stress reliever, exercise is a great way for your body to refresh itself. My new favorite phone app is called “Seven”, it offers a seven minute high intensity workout complete with an instructor to yell at you to keep going (in four different voice options – I prefer Drill Sergeant, but Hippie is pretty fun too).

-        Lower your Expectations: We often put too much pressure on ourselves to get the perfect gifts, to host the perfect party, and to make sure the entire family is getting along perfectly. But, it’s the imperfections that make us all unique and it’s not worth it to drive ourselves crazy striving for an unattainable goal. Savor the moments and stop comparing your life to others.

Please enjoy the holiday season, relax and be safe. Time goes by so quickly and it’s important to spend time with the people we love and to be there for people that don’t have such supportive families and friends.

Friday, November 6, 2015

How Much Does "Outside Noise" Clutter Your Life?
- By Hannah Perry

When I was in college I used to write my friends “stream of consciousness” emails. Let me say these friends are still my best friends today, mostly because they put up with such ridiculous emails about my life, and even encouraged them. These emails rarely had punctuation and would jump from one thought to the next as fast as my brain could travel. At the time I wasn’t aware I was practicing mindfulness but as our lives continue to be more and more cluttered by outside “noise” it’s a practice I believe is becoming more and more important today.

Think about it. When do you sit alone and just think, or pray, or meditate? Even when we’re driving in our cars our attention is outside of the vehicles (as it should be!) in addition to the radio or passengers.  Even when we’re trying to rest we start scrolling through our phones and checking facebook, email, messages. 

Well, I suggest we spend some time practicing mindfulness; which is a practice involving paying attention to the moment, bringing one’s complete attention to the here and now. Mindfulness has been proven to help with anxiety, relaxation, and stress reduction. Some tactics include: writing in a journal (forcing yourself to sit and focus on your thoughts) and meditation (sitting for 10 minutes and strictly focusing on your breathing – I like to also think of things I’m thankful for).

Instead of turning to life’s distractions when you’re feeling overwhelmed, give it a shot, maybe it’ll end up being a rejuvenating practice that you’ll routinely add into your life.