The holidays are a time of joy, laughter, connecting with family and friends, and celebration. They also may be stressful on our bodies, minds and “pocket books”. With our already busy lives, extra baking, shopping, gift-wrapping, and entertaining can make us feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Here are a few tips to help you to stay healthy, happy and mindful during the holidays and beyond.
- Take time for you – Holidays are a time to give to others, and they are also a time to give to yourself. Schedule time in your day for that yoga class, to go to the gym, for that bubble bath. Rather than jumping out of bed each morning and “hitting the ground running”, do a full body stretch; close your eyes and scan your body from head to toe noticing any areas of tightness or discomfort. Breathe into those areas and release that tension or discomfort.
- Spend time in nature at least 3 times a week (for 15 to 30 minutes or more). Being in nature is SOoo therapeutic. Focusing on the beauty that surrounds you takes your busy mind off that never-ending “to-do” list. Did you know that the Japanese have done longitudinal studies that show when we spend time in forests (they call it forest bathing or forest therapy) it reduces our heart rate, reduces our blood pressure and increases the number of natural killer cells our body produces; which means it strengthens our immune system. During stressful times it is particularly important to keep our immune systems strong so we don’t end up with that flu or cold after our guests leave!
- Celebrate YOU! At the end of each day identify at least one thing you want to celebrate about yourself for that day. It could be something you accomplished or how you responded in a stressful situation. When you constantly give to others without nourishing and celebrating yourself, you will become depleted and may also become resentful and/ or ill.
I’d love to hear your strategies for staying happy, healthy and mindful during the holidays. Please share them below. Feel free to pass this on to others you care about.
 Here is a useful resource on mindful eating: http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/
I recently returned from an amazing 7-day yoga retreat in Spain. What made it so amazing? The nurturing and intimate environment that Soulla and her friendly team at https://www.soulshineretreats.com/ created where everything was planned and done for us. From creative vegan meals prepared with love and served by an amazing chef, to the beautiful venue – a huge house overlooking the ocean with an infinity pool; to the candles by our bedsides that were lit each night; to the gifted alternative healers and the thoughtful team who anticipated and cared for our every need.
Soulshine Retreats, run by the experienced yogi Soulla, has about a 60 percent return rate. Out of the 14 people who participated in my retreat, 11 had been to at least one or more of Soulla’s previous retreats. Why do you think that is? Part of it is due to the beautiful spaces Soulla selects, the warm and caring team she has put together, her warm and soothing voice, the creative and thoughtful way she skilfully designs and delivers her daily program of yoga, meditation and workshops. The other reason I believe is that few of us in our busy lives take time out to nurture ourselves. We spend much of our time giving to others; to our families, friends, staff … . We also have packed schedules and spend much more time doing than being. These are several of the key attributes of High Achieving Women that I share in my book – https://pamela-thompson.com/books/.
There is strong evidence to show that if we don’t take the time to create space in our lives to receive and give to ourselves and take time to be, we are often unable over time to cope with the stress of everyday life and either burn out, go on stress leave or get diagnosed with cancer or an autoimmune disorder such as fibromyalgia or multiple sclerosis.
I’m not suggesting that you head off to one of Soulla’s retreats every time you wish to treat yourself; although that would be awesome! I’m suggesting that you create a list of ways that make you feel special and nurtured and consciously incorporate these into your life on a regular basis. Some of mine are:
- Walking in nature in a nearby park or by the ocean close to where I live
- Having a bubble bath with a candle and dim lighting
- Listening to my favorite music
- Having a massage; ideally with the masseuse coming to my home
- Having a pedicure
- Going to live theatre
When I do the above, I feel more relaxed, rejuvenated, creative and in alignment with the mantra I am worthy. I deserve the best and accept the best now.
I’d love to hear from you what things you do to treat yourself and how you feel when you do them. I welcome your comments below.
How do you feel when you return home from a day or weekend of hiking, kayaking, camping, skiing, and being in nature? I feel relaxed, rejuvenated, an inner warmth; grateful for my body to have supported me to hike that challenging trail or to ski those moguls.
While in nature I am in awe of its beauty and at times the amazing stillness. I feel so relaxed and connected with what is around me.
There is more and more research about the benefits of being in nature and the negative impacts of not.
Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” (2005) coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder. He has documented research on the negative impacts of children not spending time in nature including: attention difficulties, diminished use of the senses, obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Research also suggests that the nature-deficit weakens children’s appreciation of and stewardship of the natural world.
“More recent research shows that the steady stress of urban living changes the brain in ways that can increase our odds of schizophrenia, anxiety and mood disorders .”
The positive impacts on health and well-being of spending time in nature have been well documented. Examples include the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” or “forest therapy”. Having set up forest bathing centers in a number of areas throughout Japan and conducting longitudinal studies for several decades, the Japanese have discovered that spending time among trees reduces your heart rate, reduces your blood pressure and increases the number of natural killer cells our bodies produce (i.e. strengthens our immune systems).
South Korea has implemented a National Forest Plan whose goal is “to realize a green welfare state, where the entire nation enjoys well-being”. They speak about “social forestry” and have initiated a number of programs and studies including: walking in hinoki forests, doing guided meditations, and special programs for everyone from cancer patients to prenatal groups, to children with allergies, to a forest healing program for fire fighters with PTSD.
I’m currently reading The Nature Fix by Florence Williams, a journalist who moved with her family from a quiet home in Colorado surrounded by nature to a noisy downtown Washington, DC home on a major flight path. She was so shaken by the negative impact of the move she decided to learn more about nature and its benefits. The book is a fun and interesting read as Florence flies to different countries, takes part in research, speaks to researchers and experiences first-hand a variety of “therapies”.
Given these powerful findings, how can you in your busy and sometimes stressful life incorporate more time in nature? Here are a few suggestions:
- Go for a walk in nature at least three times a week for 15 to 30 minutes ideally in a park where there are trees. You can do this at lunch time if you are close to a park.
- Join a hiking group and go hiking several times a month.
- Go camping with family, friends or a group.
- Find a special place close to where you live (if possible) where you can go that makes you feel relaxed. For me that is on some rocks by the ocean about 15 minutes walk from where I live.
- Take your kids to the park at the end of each work day. Spend 20 to 30 minutes “decompressing” and focusing on having fun and connecting with your children.
- Do mindfulness walking meditations outdoors for 15 to 30 minutes three times a week.
- Do meditations that incorporate nature sounds once a day. I find Deepak and Oprah’s 21-day meditations (available from https://chopracentermeditation.com/) really helpful and do these every morning on awakening.
I’d love to hear how you feel when in nature and what strategies you’ve found helpful to increase your time in nature. Feel free to share this article with others.
 Williams, Florence, The Nature Fix – Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. New York: W.W. Norton, 2017.
 A mindfulness walking meditation enables you to get out of your head and into your body. When you walk outside in nature, slowly press one heal and the toes of one foot on the ground followed by the next, being totally present with your movements rather than thinking about all you have to do or reviewing a recent argument with your child or significant other. Focus on all of your senses. Notice the wind on your cheek, the sound of birds chirping, the smell of the salt sea air, see the beautiful vistas that surround you. Notice how you feel while doing the mindfulness walking meditations and after. Over time doing these walking meditations on a regular basis, notice what you notice.
“Freedom is a gift you give yourself when you release fear and spread your wings” – https://www.suziecheel.com/
I love this quote by Suzie Cheel!
What do you need to do to move toward freedom or in other words what do you need to let go of, in order to fly free? …
It could be letting go of deep-seated beliefs such as:
- In order to be loved and valued I need to perform and achieve
- If I give to myself, I am selfish.
- If I go really big with my business and am successful, I won’t have time for myself or to spend with people I care about.
It could be behaviors that are no longer serving you such as:
- At networking events or in social situations when meeting someone new, leading with what you know and what you’ve done so that people know you’re smart and accomplished, instead of leading with genuine interest in and questions about the person you’re interacting with.
- When speaking with someone at home or work, instead of focusing on them and being present, rather thinking of the next thing on your “to-do” list.
- Reacting negatively when changes happen or are imposed on you instead of thinking “what am I meant to learn from this experience”?
I recently completed a six-week “Soul Painting” course with Kimberly Leslie – https://www.kimberlyleslie.com/– an artist, healer and intuitive. I was interested in learning how to paint with acrylics, plus I was intrigued by the opportunity to be guided and supported in a small group to “create a painting in a sacred space that invite(d) my soul to share itself with me.”
The process was fun; I got to connect with my inner child and to finger paint. I was amazed at the energy in everyone’s painting, and was intrigued by the process and what I learned about myself through it. At the final class, the completion class, Kimberly guided us to ask our paintings what else they needed. At one point I put mine up against the wall, sat in front of it and asked what more was I meant to learn from it. Tears began to stream down my face and I asked what the emotion was about. I got the strong message that I didn’t need to perform and achieve in order to be loved and valued, instead by being myself I am valued and loved. It was a powerful moment.
There are a number of transformational techniques I’ve found useful for myself and my clients, that enable us to let go of beliefs and behaviors that are no longer serving us and move closer to flying free. In addition to the course I mentioned, they include:
- Spending regular time in nature
- Doing mindfulness walking meditations
- Journalling in the morning first thing or just before going to bed
- When faced with a challenging experience or change that is imposed on you, spending time “going inside” and asking “what am I meant to learn from this experience?”
- Participating in a group program or workshop where you are supported by an experienced facilitator and coach/mentor and learn how to turn your fears and doubts around change into living with more aliveness, creativity and joy such as:
If you’d like to learn more about how to “Let Go and Fly Free”, I’d love to have you join me and a small group of like-minded women in a beautiful natural environment for a one-day workshop Embrace the Art of Change: From Fear to Freedom on April 27th in Victoria. If you live up Island, or in such places as the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan or Washington state, if this speaks to you, I encourage you to join us and and spend several days in beautiful Victoria!
What does change have to do with being an entrepreneur?
- Entrepreneurship is all about change. When you start your own business it’s often scary as you’re leaving a “secure” position to go out on your own to new and uncharted territory. Having a business is all about experimenting. You try one niche and if you don’t get a great response you switch to another. You write copy for a program, product or service, test it, see who it attracts and then write some more and test that. In business we learn from our successes as well as our failures (usually more from our failures). Being successful in business requires being open to learning and growing.
- As we move through the various phases of growing our business, limiting beliefs and unresolved issues typically come up for us. Our inner critic sends us messages such as: Who do you think you are to want a 6-figure income? (related to self-worth); How can you choose such a narrow niche, you’ll have no clients? (related to fear of not making enough money). In order to grow your business you need to address those limiting beliefs and unresolved issues which involves change and transformation.
- Life Transitions and Changes in Business are intertwined. If we are stressed by changes in our business (e.g. breakdown of a business partnership), we often bring them into our personal lives and take our anger and frustration home with us. Similarly, if we are going through relationship transitions (e.g. separation or divorce), we often bring the emotions associated with those into our work. They may cause us to lose our focus, our patience and result in less engagement, lower productivity and more conflict at work.
- Our beliefs about change influence our behaviors related to it. For example, if you perceive change as scary and to be feared, then you will resist it and experience a lot of stress related to it. Whereas, if you view change as a creative process that opens you up to new possibilities, the change experience becomes exciting, easier and faster.
- There is some solace in knowing that we are all hard-wired to fear change. Our amygdala (part of the brain) is constantly scanning the environment to protect us and keep us safe. When it perceives a threat or something out of the ordinary, it sends messages to our bodies to go into fight, flight or freeze.
What happens when we don’t embrace change?
Research and life experiences show that if we don’t learn to embrace change we:
- keep repeating the same patterns in our lives and remaining unhappy and unfulfilled
- expend a lot of energy resisting change
- feel constantly under stress leading to chronic health issues and negative impacts on our relationships and our businesses.
The bottom line is if we don’t learn to embrace change, over time it negatively impacts both our personal and our professional lives.
So how can we reduce our fear of change?
We can reduce our fear of change when we:
- better understand how and why we respond to change
- learn a proven model and tools to help us reduce resistance and embrace and successfully navigate any change.
The more you understand change and the more self-aware you are about how and why you respond to it, the more easily you can embrace and move through it.
Why I’m so passionate about sharing this message
Having been an entrepreneur since the early 1990s, and running three successful businesses, I’ve experienced many changes in my business and personal life and learned some of my lessons the hard way, I know that having tools and processes to understand and embrace change is critical to creating the business and life of your dreams. I’m now called to support leaders and entrepreneurs to better understand and to embrace change. Based on more than 25 years of leading, consulting and coaching with individuals and organizations from diverse cultures on 5 continents, I’ve created the Art of Change Framework. It’s a proven 5-step process that guides and supports individuals and teams to move from fear and uncertainty to clarity and confidence. It makes the change experience fun as it likens the process to learning a dance.
We all need to process change and we do it in different ways and at different rates. When you have an increased understanding of change and how you respond to it, and proven processes and tools to help you to successfully navigate the change experience, it positively impacts your business and your bottom line.
If you’d like to learn more about the Art of Change Framework, here are some relevant articles: https://pamela-thompson.com/strengthen-impact-world-dance-change/ ; https://pamela-thompson.com/important-embrace-change-begin/
If you’re going through a life transition and would like to learn more about it and how to more easily navigate it, I encourage you to sign up for my complimentary Transition Journey Quiz and Tips – https://pamela-thompson.com/about/
I always like to hear from you and how the articles “land” and welcome your comments below. How has change affected you and your business? What tools and strategies have you found helpful to navigate change? Please share the post with others who you think might benefit.
With all the gloom, doom and uncertainty in the world, it’s more important than ever for us to “let go” of our worries and to connect with our inner child. What do I mean by “connecting with your inner child”?
Imagine what it was like when you had no cares or worries, when you felt loved, safe and secure and lived each day from a place of childlike wonder. I invite you to take yourself back to that time and place. What do you see and how do you feel?
I see myself playing with friends in nature; pretending we are pirates and digging for gold in the farmer’s field close to where I grew up. I see myself swinging so high and then jumping off a swing. I see myself running, jumping and feeling so free. I see myself swimming at the family cottage, back and forth between the docks. When I imagine doing each of those activities I feel light, carefree, empowered, creative, energized and curious.
So how can you connect with your inner child and with those feelings you felt as a child? One clue is when I play with my grandchildren. I now have 4, three years of age and under! On a recent visit I went for a walk with my 21- month old granddaughter. It was her first winter of experiencing snow and what it was like to walk in the cold. Initially she had a bit of trouble walking all bundled up in her cumbersome snowsuit. Before long she was almost running, so excited to be outdoors. I drew pictures in the snow and she kept saying “more, more.” I showed her how to blow snow off her mittens as it was too dry to make a snowman. I helped her make an angel in the snow. I tried to put myself in her shoes and see through her eyes of childlike wonder. It was so fun and energizing!
Another activity that connected me with my inner child was in the acrylic painting class I recently started. In the class the instructor encouraged us to try finger painting and to free paint without trying to paint anything special. It was an incredibly liberating experience! For several days after, I felt so connected to my creative side, easily designing a workshop and doing some writing. I felt like I was “in the flow”. My mind was clear and focused.
I really enjoy being in, on or by water. When I’m feeling stressed I find it therapeutic to walk to the ocean (which is close by) and lie on the rocks. When I do this I feel grounded and supported by Mother Earth. My worries fall away and I relax and feel embraced by this sacred space.
Here are a few suggestions of how you may connect with your inner child.
- Try finger painting with no agenda and notice how it makes you feel
- Is there a special nature place close to where you live? Visit it regularly. Bask in its beauty and notice how being there makes you feel
- Spend time with young children; notice and try to reconnect with your childlike wonder
- Spend some time at least once a week imagining a time or times when you felt loved and supported with no worries or cares. Feel those feelings and recall what you were doing at that time. Perhaps begin integrating those activities into your life. It could be a regular hike, walk, drawing …
- Create a sacred space in your home; a place for you that is comfortable and contains a few special reminders of your childhood; e.g. rocks, shells … . Commit to spending time in that space initially for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week and notice how you feel when there and the cumulative effect.
I believe that if we all took the time to reconnect with our inner child and let her or him “come out to play” on a regular basis, that there would be less conflict, less stress, more creativity and more collaboration in our lives, communities and workplaces.
I’d love to hear how you connect with your inner child and what you’ve noticed from that experience. Please share your experiences below so we can all learn and grow from each other.
If you’d like to learn more about how to Tap into and Express Your Creative Side I invite you to read chapter 5 in my #1 Best Selling book “Learning to Dance with LIfe” – https://pamela-thompson.com/books/