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The 3 Things You Should Definitely Do Over the Holidays

It's been one of those years; the final working week is drawing to a close, a welcomed end to the unforgiving pace of 2017. For many of us, the to-do list remains a work-in-progress and our focus is not quite engaged in our plans for next year. "Busy" is the new badge we bear proudly, but is it worth the toll that it's taking on our health? We are physically and cognitively exhausted and addressing that exhaustion should be our priority.

1. Reflect

Rather than dwelling on what you haven't done this year, start by focusing on all that you have done. According to Sue Langley ~ thought leader and leading advisor on practical applications of neuroscience ~ we should all have a "ta-da" list, reminding us of what we've done well each day/month/year. This helps you reflect and increases the likelihood of repeating those positive behaviours. Martin Seligman ~ one of the founders of positive psychology~ recommends a "What Went Well" exercise each day, where you write down what went well that day and why. This simple practice contributes to greater well-being and happiness and decreased symptoms associated with depression. So ask yourself what went well this year and why did it go well?

2. Rest & Restore

Self-compassion is critical at this time of year, the holidays usually unfold at a frenzied pace, laced with expectations to please anyone and everyone. Simply looking after yourself will offer you new-found energy and help you flourish through the next couple of weeks. Aside from routinely getting a good nights sleep, unplug, try meditating for 10 minutes a day, get out in nature and go for long walks. According to Leeds University, spending time in green space has been shown to increase positive emotions, exercise levels and social well-being as well as lowering levels of stress & depression. Exercise of any kind contributes to greater psychological as well as physical well-being.

3. Refocus

Downtime is great but if you're anything like me (Type A, teleologically driven) you prefer to get on top of your goals in order to feel prepared and poised for success. Create positive goals, aligning them with your values and how you want to feel. Begin with mindful journaling where you respond to the prompt: 'by the end of 2018 I.....' and freely write whatever comes to mind (bullet points, sentences, random thoughts). Try mind mapping (great software here to start off with) to marshall your ideas into an organised infographic, offering a mindset of innovation and goal clarity. Danielle LaPorte offers sage advice in creating goals with soul in her book The Desire Map: her key message being to focus on how you want to feel rather than what you want to achieve.

Spend the next few days truly present with your loved ones, rest and have positive foresight for the future. Holidays should always offer some respite from the cut and thrust of a busy existence; enjoy the escape and opportunity to reconnect with yourself.

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