I must confess -- I both love December and hate it. What I love is the darker, longer nights, which lend themselves perfectly to two essential practices for all leaders: 1) reading and 2) self-reflection. I hate it because the crush of holiday planning, the chaos of wrapping up “year-end” activities, and the conflicting priorities between family and business obligations converge to magnify stress.
So when better than December to double down on bringing more ease and flow into your life -- both at home and at work?
As I’ve been reading more than usual these last few weeks, here are a few gems to help you lower your own stress levels and those of the people around you:
Spending a few hours in nature, especially among trees, turns out to have notable health benefits, including reducing stress! Try “forest bathing” for a great antidote to anxiety and stress, a natural blood pressure reducer and a mood elevator!
Yep, there’s actual research proving that laughing is good for both mental health AND your immune system (it lowers cortisol levels and increases endorphins). One minute of laughter has the same effect as 45 minutes of relaxation, according to some studies. So guffaw a little more.
By some estimates, executives suffer anxiety and depression at more than twice the rate of the general population. Give yourself the care you deserve. Talk about it, get support, and seek medical help when you should. You wouldn’t avoid getting treatment for diabetes, would you?
Especially after the last two years, full of fears and worries brought on by the Covid pandemic (health fears, job stresses, family losses, isolation, and loneliness), you and everyone around you could use some appreciation. Expressing appreciation has many positive health benefits. You’ll feel better, they’ll feel better, and everyone’s stress will lessen. If you’re not sure, here’s how to start a gratitude practice.
For the rest of the month, I’m prioritizing taking my own advice, so if you want to practice exchanging appreciation, take a (virtual) walk together in the woods, or have a good laugh together, let me know!