Winter, including the holiday season, calls for us to embrace our world a little differently. What may have been easy in the summer, throwing on shorts and heading out for a run, or eating loads of veggies straight from the farmer’s market, now requires a little more thought and intention.
What I love about the changing seasons of the mid-west is they provide us an opportunity to check our mindset, and alter what we do to adapt to the new season. It is a little like playing one on one defense on the basketball court. You must be constantly be aware of your opponent so you can shift your strategy to match whatever he or she is up to in a given moment of play.
While it might be tempting to resist the changes required for each season, especially, winter, resistance creates grousing, dark, lousy moods, and the general sense of being at the effect of circumstances.
Complaining sucks the joy right out of what could be a vibrant, thriving existence. The following powerful habits will help you meet the challenges of the holiday season and to boldly thrive throughout winter.
Four Power Habits:
Set an Intention.
Benefits: Setting intentions for who we’d like to be and how we’d like to show up provides us with a personal compass pointing us towards our true North. Intentions help us define the big enough WHY supporting our dreams and goals. Intentions beautifully remind us of our best selves.
Habit Action: Setting intentions requires a bit of time for reflection. Carving out even 20 minutes to decide what is important to you, how you want to feel, how you want to show up during the next 16 weeks is a good start. Choose 3 words which will remind and anchor your approach to winter, for example: Determined, Healthy, Active. Choose 3 words which will exemplify your character during the holidays, for example: Loving, Relaxed, Budget-Conscious. Post these words where you will see them or set your phone to send you reminders.
Check Your Mindset.
Benefits: Our mindset is a powerful tool for change. It is simply mindset which makes it too cold to exercise outside and yet for anyone who has said this, there are Badger and Packer fans who sit out in the dark and cold to cheer on their teams. It is mindset which has us choosing our health over the second slice of pumpkin pie.
Habit Action: A mindset check is to ask yourself, are you focused on excuses and complaints or what is beneficial and possible? Noticing the focus of your thoughts will help you redirect your attention towards a brighter and more cheerful season. For example, many of my friends who love to exercise outdoors focus on the fact cold-weather exercise burns more calories. As an added bonus, with our bodies working harder in the cold, endorphin levels are boosted even more, leading to a happier state of mind! Plenty of outdoor clothing stores will help you dress for the weather.
Be Flexible and Adaptable.
Benefits: Being flexible and able to adapt to what is shifting and new in your environment is key to building your resilience muscle. Resilience allows us to bounce back from times of stress and discomfort and make necessary changes for our ultimate success.
Habit Action: The winter weeks may be calling for you to try something new – to start a new routine which will support your winter and holiday goals. For example:
Wake up early: Early risers tend to be more productive and have time for exercise, eating breakfast, and other positive activities like reading, reflection, and time with family. Going to bed earlier supports the tendency to hibernate in the winter, so don’t fight it and instead use it to start beneficial morning routines.
Exercise early: Research shows people who exercise in the morning stick to their workout plans better than those who wait until later. Morning exercise also helps your body burn calories faster and more efficiently throughout the day.
Start your day with water: Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, is a perfect reset button. Not only is it the apology and forgiveness your body needs for whatever you might have consumed the day before, it purifies your colon, and improves your digestive system.
Stand while you work: Sitting all day has been associated with a host of health problems – research shows it is as bad for your health as smoking. If you don’t have a standing desk, do some of your work while standing, like answering the phone or reading documents. You may want to set a timer for every hour or so to simply stand, stretch, and walk for a short distance.
Be a Planner.
Benefits: A little planning goes a long way to creating a beautiful framework for your life. Get everything on your calendar. If it isn’t on your calendar, it is an unsupported dream.
Habit Action: Thinking about making the two days after Thanksgiving a detox-clean eating day? Write it on the calendar. Want to eat healthy? Spend an hour on Sunday planning your menu for the week and creating the shopping list for healthy groceries. Want to exercise in the morning? Decide when you will go to bed and wake up – put these times in your planner. Want to be more productive? Get out your planner and time-block your schedule.
Choose to THRIVE this winter and holiday season. Successful people recognize certain power habits trigger a cascade of other positive behaviors and outcomes. Start today.