Take Steps Now to Reduce Holiday Stress

Reduce Holiday StressWhen you think of the holidays, what comes to mind first? Twinkling lights? The merry faces of children? Or… is it stress? Does planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the December holidays stress you out?

In a recent article published by allonehealth.com, “Holiday stress statistics show that up to 69 percent of people are stressed by the feeling of having a ‘lack of time,’ 69 percent are stressed by perceiving a ‘lack of money,’ and 51 percent are stressed out about the ‘pressure to give or get gifts.’”

I think most of us will agree that it hasn’t always been this way. Especially for the older ones among us, the holidays were pretty simple. Holiday programs at school and church, putting up the Christmas tree together with ornaments the included handmade items by the children, perhaps Christmas caroling and holiday meals with family at home or at other relatives’ homes.

Now there is additional pressure to do indoor and outdoor decorating that can be competitive with relatives or neighbors. The list of people with whom to exchange gifts seems to grow. The advertising wherever we look starts SO early. In the internet age, the pressure to shop online on Black Friday has infringed on our Thanksgiving Day. The next day is Small Business Saturday and the following Monday is Cyber Monday for online sales.

Now is the time to decide, individually and with family or others who are directly involved, what kind of December you want this year. It doesn’t have to be an extensive process. It is really a priority-setting exercise that will set the parameters and tone for decisions about activities you choose.

Here are a few simple questions to think about and discuss with the others involved:

  • Looking back at previous holiday seasons, what things were the most enjoyable and meaningful? What made them that way?
  • What things caused the most stress and perhaps conflict? Was the stress primarily on one person or was it experienced by others?
  • Are there things any of you would like to include in your holiday celebrations that haven’t been part of them recently, or ever?
  • Based on the above, what key things (you may want to set a number) do you want to include that will be enjoyable and fulfilling for you and for others?
  • Are there activities that you want to continue but simplify? How?
  • What self-care strategies can you insert into the holiday season that will decrease stress for you? How about for others?

If there are differences of opinion about any of the above, working out a set of priorities and plans together can in itself reduce stress.

Taking time to do this between now and the beginning of December can have a huge positive impact. Perhaps it is something you can do during the weekend after Thanksgiving. Make it festive – snacks and beverages, candles, etc. This can become a tradition that you look forward to and treasure, not only for the outcome but the cooperative process.

Click below for a simple worksheet that includes the above questions. You can download and print it for this year and repeat next year.

WORKSHEET for Reducing Holiday Stress and Increasing Enjoyment

If this results in some fairly major changes in your holidays, be sure to communicate them in a positive way to anyone affected by your decisions. And in January, have another festive debrief of how this went for everyone. Happy holiday planning and destressing!!

For Thanksgiving: Free Online Resources to Entertain the Whole Family

Thanksgiving Resource PostThanksgiving and a long weekend can be a challenge in terms of keeping the family occupied while they are out of school and off work. It can also be a challenge when one or more of the parents needs to make the Thanksgiving meal, and they need to find quiet activities that children of all ages can do with a minimum amount of supervision and a maximum amount of interest to keep boredom at bay. And, of course, if there are guests in the house, too.

Fortunately, there are a number of online resources packed full of clever ideas the whole family can enjoy together. Here are several suggestions.

1. DLTK Growing Together    http://www.dltk-holidays.com/thanksgiving/

This useful site from Canada offers:
• Thanksgiving coloring pages
• Thanksgiving crafts
• Thanksgiving games and puzzles
• Thanksgiving poems and songs
• Thanksgiving printables
• Thanksgiving recipes
• Thanksgiving worksheets

This site is perfect for K through 8 and for adults who want to spend quality time with the kids for at least part of the holiday weekend. Load up the printer and ink and print out a range of activities, puzzles and more.

2. Education.com

This site has a nice selection of printables for all ages and of all types. There are puzzles, games, and history pages that help teach about the first Thanksgiving and the Puritan settlers to the New World.
https://www.education.com/worksheets/thanksgiving/

Extend the use of the pages by having your younger ones color them in. Be sure to have snub-nosed scissors and glue for the arts and crafts worksheets.

3. Scholastic

Scholastic has both free and paid printables through their membership, and resources for K through 8. Learn about colonial America, and enjoy coloring pages, games and worksheets. See the Thanksgiving collection here:
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collections/teaching-content/thanksgiving/

and the printables page. https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/thanksgiving-printables/

4. TheHomeSchoolMom

This site has a wealth of activities and links to a range of educational material from Pre-K to 12, plus teachers’ resources. Use the checkboxes at the top of the page to sort what you are looking for. This site is sure to give your whole family hours of educational fun. https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschool-lesson-plans/thanksgiving/

5. SignUp Genius

This website helps groups get organized by having them sign up for different activities. It has a nice list of 20 Thanksgiving games to play. https://www.signupgenius.com/home/thanksgivinggames.cfm

There’s also a sign-up project to help plan your Thanksgiving feast which you might find handy, and which the kids can help you with if they are old enough. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f044daead2aabfd0-dinner

6. Iheartnaptime.net

This site has made a list of 50 top printables the family will love. You’re sure to find hours of activities and tons of inspiration. https://www.iheartnaptime.net/50-best-thanksgiving-printables/

7. Apartment Therapy

This site offers 15 activities the whole family can get involved with in order to make your Thanksgiving special.
https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/thanksgiving-15-ideas-for-making-it-fun-and-meaningful-for-the-whole-family-161544

8. Play Party Plan
This site offers 30 Thanksgiving-themed party games the whole family will love.
https://www.playpartyplan.com/30-great-thanksgiving-party-games/

9. 247 Games

This fun site offers holiday versions of popular card and board games, such as Thanksgiving solitaire, mahjong, Sudoku and more.

http://www.thanksgivingblackjack.com/
http://www.thanksgivingmahjong.com/
http://www.thanksgivingsolitaire.com/
http://www.thanksgivingsudoku.com/
http://www.thanksgivingbackgammon.com/
Learn all new games or have fun with old favorites. Organize tournaments for each game to see who is the winner of each.

10. The Spruce Crafts

This site offers a range of fun Thanksgiving-themed puzzles.
https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/thanksgiving-puzzles-2809152

With all these free ideas, no one needs to be bored during the holidays.

Viewing Retirement – Is Fear of Boredom Keeping You on the Job?

Bored

A number of people who are close to or even past the typical age of retirement have said to me that they don’t know what they would do with their time if they retired. So they continue to work even if it is not satisfying in fear of that alternative of boredom, decline and lack of purpose. Some who do retire soon may find they are in that space – if they have not considered and planned for a satisfying, stimulating time of retirement.

In fact, the Federal Reserve published the results of a survey in 2016 which indicated that one-third of retirees eventually reconsider their decision and return to work either full time or part time. Also, the Rand Corporation study published in 2017 showed that 39 percent of those 65 and older who were currently employed had actually retired for a period of time and returned to the workplace.

Financial need can certainly be the reason or one of the reasons for this phenomenon. However, the decision for many people has as much to do with social and personal needs and issues aside from income. Gary Foster wrote about this in his article, “How to Avoid Being a ‘Bored Boomer’ in Retirement” on his website “Making Aging Work” and it was printed at NextAvenue.org: https://www.nextavenue.org/bored-boomer-in-retirement/

Foster suggests 3 things to help one avoid becoming a “bored boomer” in retirement: Unmuzzle Your ‘Essential Self’, Reintegrate Yourself, and Start a Lifestyle Business.

Reintegrate Rather Than Reinvent

One of the most intriguing things to me was Foster’s choice to recommend that boomers reintegrate rather than reinvent themselves. He credits the CEO of Encore.org Marc Freedman’s article in the Harvard Business Review, “The Dangerous Myth of Reinvention” for his choice:

He wrote: “Isn’t there something to be said for racking up decades of know-how and lessons, from failures as well as triumphs? Shouldn’t we aspire to build on that wisdom and understanding? After years studying social innovators in the second half of life — individuals who have done their greatest work after 50 —I’m convinced the most powerful pattern that emerges from their stories can be described as reintegration, not reinvention. These successful late-blooming entrepreneurs weave together accumulated knowledge with creativity, while balancing continuity with change, in crafting a new idea that’s almost always deeply rooted in earlier chapters and activities.”

It’s the difference between continuing, in most cases, doing work that you’ve been doing –  and creating something that draws from what you have observed and learned. For many people the process of figuring out what that will be is a process that will energize and excite them and inspire others to do the same.

Regardless of how close you may be to making a decision about retiring, you may find it a stimulating process to think about what you might do to reintegrate yourself for the next phase of your life.

Marc Freedman has written a few books; you may be interested in this one:   The Big Shift: Navigating the New Age Beyond Midlife

Are Seasonal Allergies Plaguing You?

sneezingSpring brings a lot of beauty into your life – you are able to enjoy the outdoors thanks to the warmer weather and get to enjoy all the new fresh flowers and produce. Unfortunately, with more time outdoors and new flower growth comes the unfortunate seasonal allergies for many people. If you suffer from spring allergies, you may have tried many over-the-counter products, even getting prescriptions from your doctor. There are also natural remedies that can help. Of course, we are all different and what works for one person doesn’t work for another. You may find something that works for you!

Use Raw Honey
Among the different natural remedies for seasonal allergies, using honey is one of the best options. The trick here is to go for raw honey, preferably local honey instead of what you find in the supermarket or health food store. If you have a farmer’s market near you, that is probably the best place to find local, raw honey. Honey can not only help you relieve your current allergy symptoms, but using it on a regular basis year-round can actually help you build up a tolerance to those pesky spring allergies.

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Your diet may also need to change when you start experiencing allergy symptoms. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet that consists of foods like broccoli, ginger, avocado, chia seeds, beetroot, pineapples, and nuts. You want to avoid foods that tend to cause extra inflammation and might worsen seasonal allergy symptoms, including dairy, fried foods, corn oil, and processed foods. Sticking to a diet mostly of clean and fresh ingredients will make a big difference in how you feel.

Try Essential Oils
Essential oils can be very healing for you, with many of them being great for allergy symptoms. With the right oils, you can reduce your allergy symptoms, getting a break from the headaches, coughing, sneezing, and breathing issues. The best oils for springtime allergies are basil, peppermint, and eucalyptus. These have a fresh scent that is perfect for spring, just make sure you get the pure essential oils and not fragrance oils. You can use a diffuser when you are at home and explore other options for when you are not. Here’s a list of possibilities: https://oneessentialcommunity.com/25-ways-to-diffuse-essential-oils-without-a-diffuser/

Apple Cider Vinegar
If you have been reading about natural remedies, you have probably run across apple cider vinegar more than once. This seems to be a cure-all for everything from digestive issues to helping with heartburn. It also happens to be excellent when you have seasonal allergies. It is going to detox your lymphatic system and reduce mucus production, which helps with the coughing and sneezing from your spring allergies. It can be as simple as putting 2-3 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar into a glass of filtered water, adding local honey to taste, or your favorite juice. Drink this before each meal.

May you find a way to alleviate your spring allergies!!

What are Elderberries and What Can They do for Me?


Elderberries for Health
Elderberries are one of the “hot” nutritional items these days. Perhaps you haven’t even heard of this plant until recently. I have great childhood memories of picking elderberries off roadside bushes in rural southern Wisconsin. The berries, after being painstakingly stripped off the stems were made into wonderful pies and jelly by my grandmother and mother. The bushes slowly disappeared as roads were widened and other factors affected them. I always loved the flavor and was thrilled to find the jelly at farmers’ markets in more recent years. I had no idea of the health benefits as I spread the delicacy on toast and biscuits!

Elderberries are seen as beneficial to health in many ways and are now cultivated widely. The focus of this article is on how elderberries boost immunity and can alleviate cold and flu symptoms.

Everyone wants more antioxidants in their body, and during flu and cold system this is especially important. Elderberry, like many other fruits and herbs, provides an exceptional amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants work to keep you from getting illnesses and fight off infections since they protect your cells from free radicals. These free radicals can do a lot of damage to your body, lowering your immune system, and making you susceptible to illness.

Elderberry also has vitamin C, which is another great way to raise your immunity and keep you from getting illnesses and chronic diseases. Elderberry has about the same amount of antioxidants as other berries, including goji berries, blackberries, and blueberries, also with a high amount of flavonoids. Additional immune-strengthening compounds also exist in elderberry, another great bonus.

Taking a dosage daily of one of the elderberry syrups or juices on the market can be a preventative measure during flu and cold season. If you feel symptoms coming on, up your intake of the handy medicinal elderberry syrup.

Research has shown that elderberry syrup works wonders for various symptoms related to these illnesses, including congestion and headaches from both the cold and flu, inflammation, and digestive issues as the result of the influenza (flu). You can try a little elderberry syrup alternating with traditional cold medicine, or try just the elderberry with other natural remedies for a day or two to see if you notice any changes.

I have found elderberry syrup quite effective in fighting off the first symptoms and diminishing the time of a cold if I wait too long to start taking elderberry syrup.

As always, consult your doctor before trying any natural remedies. With a flu, if you have a high fever or dehydration, get medical attention right away.

There is an incredible amount of information available for your perusal. In the meantime, I suggest a couple of products that I have tried and which have been helpful. (These are my affiliate links; as always, you never pay more to use them.)

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Extract  –  Not as sweet as the syrup

Elderberry Lozenges

There are also dried elderberries available for you to use in teas and to make your own syrup, etc.

Dried Elderberries

 

WHAT WE LOVE – A free Kindle Book for you

What We LoveWHAT WE LOVE describes relationships with children, spouses, pets, nature, travel and more. Over 100 writers contributed to this great collection.

We are pleased to share the results with you in this book celebrating love: the inspirational essays, narratives and insights. The intention of this book is to empower and uplift you, too, to notice what’s around you that’s ready for love from you.

http://bit.ly/WhatWeLoveBook

Taking a Much Needed Break

Long Beach, CAMost of us have times when we want to take a much needed break –  get away from our routines, our involvements, even some of the people in our lives. Is this true for you?

This fall I had the incredible opportunity to do just that for 10 weeks. It was truly a miracle, a synchronistic happening, or whatever term you might use for something that was outside normal expectations. I was a house-sitter for friends who were out of town for an extended period of time. They felt more secure having someone stay in their home for at least part of that time. Guess where they live? Long Beach, California – 5 blocks from the ocean.

After having a very challenging several months on a couple of levels, I was eager to step out of drama, disappointment, frustration and more. I did what was necessary to leave my house unoccupied for that period of time with the help of dear friends. That included emptying and unplugging the refrigerator, turning off the water and water heater, and having those friends agree to check on the house periodically.

My intentions were to first relax and unwind, and then to spend more focused time working on my online business along with visits and adventures with some friends. I continued part time work virtually, which is so incredible to be able to do. I was also experimenting with actually living in southern California, since my family now lives there, and looking at housing possibilities. The time culminated with taking care of my grandchildren for nine days while their parents were on vacation.

What I Experienced and Learned

Some of the things I experienced and learned during what I called my “Sojourn in California” were the following:

+ An extended time away can truly provide relief from stress and issues that seem intractable.
+ Time passes more quickly than I imagined possible; 10 weeks seemed like such a long time but before I knew it, it was over.
+ Being in a new setting, especially one which is so different from where I live in Nashville, provided great opportunities to see my surroundings and enjoy them. In our everyday settings, we go into autopilot and miss so many things.
+ Experiencing a new setting without having a car was a wonderful experience – walking so much felt good and allowed me to experience the neighborhood in a way driving everywhere could not have.
+ Using a ridesharing service (Lyft) when I did leave the neighborhood to visit people, etc. turned out to be a fascinating way to  hear the unique stories of each my drivers. What a way to meet such a variety of people!

Everyone cannot have ten weeks away; I encourage you to think about how you can get some of the benefits in other ways. Even much shorter periods away from your routines with specific intentions can be really helpful. Your intentions might be to totally disconnect, to immerse yourself in a different locale mostly on foot, to meet and share stories with as many people as possible, to isolate and write, etc. Choose what you think will help you the most. And most of all, when you need a break, figure out a way to make it happen!

Gratitude is a Powerful Force!

Gratitude helps you growMany people are in a gratitude mode during the days of November leading up to Thanksgiving. The real challenge for some of us is to carry it beyond that day as so much around us switches to Christmas and beyond. The pressure increases to purchase, produce events, perform in many ways, and it is easy to lose our attitude of gratitude! I invite you to pledge to yourself to carry that attitude through the entire holiday season and into the new year. I believe it can have benefits for you during this busy, demanding time of year.

So often these days, the negative is sensationalized and the positive is ignored. You see it in the news, in magazines and newspapers. You hear it in the grocery store, at work and even from family and friends. All this negativity can be overwhelming to the point of wearing a person down.

It can be really difficult to avoid feeding into all of it. If you’re focusing on the negative rather than the positive, you are doing yourself a serious disservice. You are harming your emotional wellbeing as well as your physical body. You could be straining your relationships, hurting your career and much more.

Use this FREE 30-Day Gratitude Journal to get your started with this practice. http://carolbrusegar.com/30daygratitudejournal

Each day there will be a reflection on a particular topic and an invitation for you to write about it – brief or extensive, it’s up to you. This format will take you deeper on 30 topics, and you of course can add other things that come to mind. There are blank pages at the back of the journal for that purpose. It’s your journal to use as you wish! Print it out and decide on a time of day to use it for the next 30 days.

DOES THIS WORK?

Maybe you are skeptical about the hype you hear about the positive effects of gratitude. By incorporating gratitude you will find a new or renewed balance and energy. Gratitude is an emotion that comes from appreciation. It’s an awareness, a thankfulness for the good things in your life, in you and in the world around you. Gratitude is a powerful thing. It can turn a negative into a positive. It can be the fuel for taking on things that are important to you with renewed energy. It can change how you feel inside. It can bring hope and happiness. It can improve your health, your relationships, your career and your ability to make a difference in the world. It can literally transform your life.
When you express gratitude, it diminishes the negativity in a powerful way. Studies show that practicing gratitude leads to:

• A feeling of optimism, joy and satisfaction.
• Less stress, anxiety and depression.
• A strengthened immune system.
• Lower blood pressure.
• The ability to bounce back quicker after a traumatic event.
• Stronger relationships.
• A feeling of being connected to your community.
• Feeling less victimized by others or by life.
• Being able to recognize and appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t.
• Becoming more compassionate and empathetic.
• A better quality and more rewarding life.

Access your FREE 30-Day Gratitude Journal here: http://carolbrusegar.com/30daygratitudejournal

Practicing gratitude changes your perspective on life. Whether you choose to journal in the morning, or at night, or both, is up to you. Choose a time and be consistent. Spend a few minutes thinking and writing about the topic of the day. May this become a habit that goes far beyond the 30 days! I believe you will see some great results.

Reduce Overwhelm Fog With 10 Minute Tasks

ListTo-do lists, planners, planning pages – hard copy or electronic – are tools we use to manage the many details of our lives. The more segments of our lives there are, the more things there are to remember and to do. Home, school, work, volunteer commitments, side business, personal care and development… and more. Sometimes it is all pretty overwhelming. All of these things cause us to experience overwhelm fog.

There are major projects and undertakings that we need to do over weeks or months as well as simple tasks that are urgent and lots in between. The major projects have many smaller parts and tasks that ideally will be spread over time to avoid last minute overload, panic and less-than-ideal quality. How do you deal with all of this?

Are you someone who adopted a system of keeping track of and accomplishing things years ago, found that it worked at least adequately and have continued to use it to the present time?

Are you someone who tries different approaches and systems as you hear about them and never settle on one consistent way to operate?

Are you someone who eschews systems and may make simple lists but not much more?

Are you someone who absolutely writes down everything that you want to do and has voluminous lists all the time?

Looking at options to manage the details of life can be very beneficial to our focus and ability to feel at least moderately in control and to have some peace as we move through our busy days and weeks. There are multitudinous options available that are geared toward different people’s ways of thinking, organizing information, and even personality.

Rather than examine those major options, which is a huge undertaking, I suggest beginning with a short-term approach which can help with the tasks that really don’t take that long to do. Having a way to manage that seemingly unending volume of items, whether they are in the daily/weekly tasks that always need to be done or are steps to larger projects, can help clear the overwhelm fog.

I remember the idea of writing each of those tasks on a small slip of paper and putting them in a large jar. Then, as you have time to do a simple item or two, you reach into the jar and grab one out and get it done. I always thought that was a pretty good idea, but never actually did it.

Here’s a similar approach that I recommend, using a “10 Minute Tasks” tool. This is shorthand for tasks that are quick to do, usually 10 minutes or less. If it takes more than 10 minutes but is still brief, it can be completed. Or if once you start, it is clear that for some reason it will take longer, you can consider putting it off to when you have more time. The idea is to accomplish those short tasks and check them off. It can be amazing the impact this has on the overwhelm fog.

You can try this out with a sample journal page, which you can download and copy.  The sample also includes a list of 100 10 minute tasks to stimulate the creation of your own list.  Click here to get your samples:

10 Minute Tasks List

10 Minute Tasks Sample Sheet

Would you like the full set of pages to work with?  Email me at carol@carolbrusegar.com and request them. You can make multiple copies and use them as much as you would like.

Regrouping for the Rest of the Year


Time to Regroup
Whew! How time flies!  Some of us may be feeling like the year so far was productive and satisfying. And some of us, myself included, may be nearly in shock that at this point of the year so little of what we hoped to accomplish is a reality. The good news is that this is a good time to make a fresh start. Regrouping for the rest of the year now can bear much fruit in the months to come.

Here are five steps  that each of us can take to get a fresh start and make the rest of the year great.

Step #1: Take a brief time to list the things that you believe got in the way of making the past months what you had hoped.  Some would call these excuses, and there are no valid excuses.  Others view them as just a reality: life happens, and as it does, we make choices.  So that we can focus on the future, let’s get these excuses/reasons out on the table.

Step #2: Again briefly, think of ways you could have done things differently so that you could have moved forward despite the factors that got in your way.

Step #3: Commit to using these strategies if these or similar things threaten to derail your intentions for the rest of the year.

Step #4: Decide on your intentions and goals for the rest of the year.

Step #5: Use this resource to help you accomplish your priorities: The 12 Week Year – Get More Done In 12 Weeks Than Other Do In 12 Months

This resource not only provides easy to follow strategies, it actually gives a whole new perspective on time and how to use it to get where you want to go. It is effective in the workplace and personally. The process and framework focuses us on 12 week time periods. No matter the point in the year, we can focus on the next 12 week periods in the rest of this year and into the next. Think how much we can accomplish!

Here are comments posted on Amazon about this resource:

+ The book is an excellent guide for how to compress our goals into timeframes that allow us to get more done, sooner. Three authors clearly establish WHY the 12-week will help you and more importantly, HOW to implement a 12-week year.
Case studies across verticals show how the concepts can be applied both individually and corporately.

+ I accomplished more with this program than I ever would have without it. I am applying this not only to my business, but our homeschool year and my homemaking/home improvement efforts.

I highly recommend you check out this book through my affiliate link and join me in making the rest of 2018 spectacular.  I would love to hear from you as you use this framework and process! Here’s the link again: The 12 Week Year


12 Week Year