“Staying present, living in Presence is the best gift anyone can give to those they love.”—Guy Finley

Map - NY to AZ with Hearts in Each State

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can be stressful in a normal year; however, add the events of 2020 into the mix, and the end of this year can feel overwhelming. How do we take care of ourselves, reduce stress, and manage the flurry as we close the chapter on 2020? To combat this overwhelming year, I took a new approach to self-care over the past month.

The first thing I did was to change my scenery. I was able to pick up my home office and work remotely from another part of the country. I have family in Arizona who I don’t see very often but miss dearly. I thought to myself in early September, “when in my life will I have the flexibility and opportunity to work from Arizona?” I didn’t think twice and made careful travel arrangements to spend 5 weeks moving from house to house, working during the day, and spending time with family during my downtime. The change of scenery (and weather) did wonders for my mood, outlook, and perspective. Not everyone can travel during these precarious times, but even a small change in view or location can adjust one’s mindset.

Secondly, I made a concerted effort to be in the moment with family. My screen time has decreased several hours a day since I have been away. I traded news alerts, social media, and internet rabbit holes for meaningful conversation, puzzles, crafting, walking through holiday markets, enjoying outdoor meals, watching the Buffalo Bills win (and lose), and being present in the moment. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip by and made the most of each moment, thinking I may not have this experience again (before I retire).

Lastly, I found opportunities to learn in a way I don’t usually do at home. Financial mindfulness is something I have not paid a lot of attention to, thus resulting in not knowing where my money was going. My nephew showed me how to create a budget that would help me track my spending and see where my money was going. A tangential conversation casually led to gaining a perspective to which I hadn’t been exposed. Spending is something I tend to overdo, especially during the holidays, thus I succumb to the pressure of spending and making the holidays about presents versus presence.

After these past 5 weeks, which have flown by faster than I could have imagined, I have come to realize that presence is the real present. Living in the moment, enjoying the environment around you, and making memories have helped me manage my personal wellness. While my approaches may not work for you, strategies are available to manage your own wellbeing (see below). Take the time this year to give the gift of being present to yourself and others.

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