If you do ONE thing for yourself this year, do THIS

Now I know we're not quite into the weeks that are officially considered 'the holidays,' but I'm taking the opportunity to get a jump-start talking about some strategies, mindsets/positive thinking, eating and exercise approaches that will help us be at our best once the holidays do 'officially' start ūüôā


Because not much would make me happier than knowing I'm helping you feel healthier AND happier this holiday season!


So, yes, I'll admit it--there's something in it for me ūüôā


Let’s face it, the holidays have the potential to be really stressful.  


There are many extra, out-of-the-ordinary tasks to take care of and events to attend, whether they are for the kids, for work, or for friends or family.


It can become easy to feel resentful or overwhelmed when there are so many ‚Äėextras‚Äô on our plates and not much extra in the way of sleep or time to ourselves!


One thing that works really well to keep those nasty feelings from overwhelming us is adopting a daily gratitude practice.


When we take just a few minutes a day to recognize the good things we have in our lives, and to show our gratitude for them, it changes how we experience our lives.

Instead of getting hung up on the things that are stressful or ‚Äėgoing wrong,‚Äô a daily gratitude practice helps us reframe our lives‚ÄĒto see all the positive things we‚Äôve got going, which in turn helps us let go of the negative feelings we might have about the challenges we face.


‚ÄúGratitude turns what we have into enough, and more.¬† It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity‚Ķit makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.‚Ä̬†¬†

~Melody Beattie


Gratitude helps us put on our ‚ÄėPerspectacles,‚Äô as Glennon of Momastery calls it.


The result of practicing daily gratitude:  A calmer, happier, more peaceful experience of daily life.  Really


A little story to illustrate my point:

This time 5 years ago, Gabe was on his 7th month of his 3rd deployment in Afghanistan, all of which happened while we lived overseas.


The holiday obligations and extra events were starting to kick in, my son was having major behavior issues both at school and at home, my daughter was having friendship issues at school, I was having friendship issues as well (Army life can be tough that way) and I was feeling professionally lost as well.


My workout buddy and good friend had just moved away, and I felt angry, overwhelmed, resentful and alone.


Sounds fun, right???


It was so miserable, and I was so stuck in being miserable I couldn't see my way out of it.  


It went on like this for a few weeks, and it was the kind of nasty feeling that I couldn't out-run or out-exercise in any way.


Then one day I got a surprise care package from that workout buddy/good friend who had moved away, and one of the oh-so-thoughtful items included was The Five-Minute Journal.


Now, I'm not big into journaling, but I thought I would check it out because my friend is not only one of the most grounded and gracious women I've met, she's pretty stinking smart, too.

you can see my stinkin' smart friend in the pink here


I cracked the book.  Inside the very first pages was this:

"Five reasons why you'll love the Five Minute Journal

  1.  It's the simplest, most effective thing you can do every day to be happier.
  2.  It's built on proven principles on positive psychology.
  3.  It's a journal for people who don't write journals.
  4. You'll have a snapshot of your days, weeks, months and years.
  5.  Have a problem sticking to commitment? Good.....Inside you'll find tips and tricks to fool proof your commitment to write frequently."


So I started, not fully convinced it would work, but hopeful enough to try.

I can now easily say it's one of the very best personal choices I've ever made and it's one of the greatest gifts I've ever received.

‚ÄčBy¬†simply changing my perspective, by taking the time to identify the blessings I have and focusing my daily intentions, I¬†started to create a more positive experience for myself and my¬†kids.¬†

Eventually, after a few weeks of dedicated '5-Minute journaling,' I started to see the world through different lenses; I felt more hopeful, more positive, and more empowered.


My life circumstances hadn't miraculously changed--I still had plenty of challenges on my plate, but the way in which I looked at my challenges and the way in which I handled myself and made my choices became calmer, more focused and so much less tormented.


"Gratitude is the opposite of depression and anxiety. It's the conscious experience of appreciation of the gifts in our lives and the results are tangible."

~ The Five Minute Journal


Adopting a daily gratitude practice, like using The Five-Minute Journal, works.


Like I've said before, when I find something that works, something that can be helpful to others, I want to share it!


There are many different ways you can practice expressing daily gratitude, but this book is my personal favorite:  http://www.fiveminutejournal.com

But, if you’d rather use your phone, there’s an app for that, too!  http://app.fiveminutejournal.com

If you make only one change this holiday season, I strongly encourage you to start writing in/keeping a gratitude journal.  

It's really and truly a game-changer.  I promise.  I know because it's changed my life for the better over the past 5 years.


Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season to come,