Exercises for the Holidays

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Feeling a little frantic? Running like a decapitated rooster? It must be the holiday spreading its comfort and joy. 

I’m always dismayed when the promise of “peace on earth” turns into “give me my piece and get out of my way.” Shopping for gifts, entertaining, decorating, baking, all add to frayed nerves and stretched wallets. And this year could be a prize winner, with unemployment, frozen salaries, or higher expectations at work adding to the crush. 

I propose a little holiday exercise to clear the head and burn off stress, and I’m not suggesting the physical variety (although that will help, too). The holiday exercise I have in mind not only helps you, it adds to the health of those around you. 

If you are interested in spreading around a little peace on earth, read on for some simple, considerate calisthenics.

 
Praise Push Ups (3 reps a day)

Notice and comment when someone does something well: To a waiter, after he carefully explains what wine will pair with dinner: “I can see you really know your wines!”  

To your colleague, after he reaches out to seek your opinion, “Thanks for asking for my input. I admire the way you collaborate across departments.”  

To your kids, “I noticed you did your homework without me nagging you—that was great--very responsible.”

 
Kindness Curls (once a day)

Hold a door when a colleague has an armful (or you just happen to reach it first). This chivalrous act seems to be lost along with actually looking at someone when you talk (versus texting at the lunch table).  

Pay a toll for the car behind you.  

Pay every bell-ringing Santa you walk past, even if it’s only small change.  

Offer to babysit your neighbor’s children while they shop for gifts.  

Make a big pot of chili and give some to each neighbor, so they don’t have to cook. 

Offer to help a colleague who is swamped with work, by taking a task off their shoulders. 

Laugh Lunges (a guffaw, chuckle, belly laugh/2 reps each day)

Start by laughing at yourself—take it from me, there is plenty of raw material.  

Find the bright side and share it, especially when the pace is killer. That’s when everyone needs it most. 

Surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Better yet, be the person who makes others laugh. 

Empathy Presses (Name the emotion you think they are feeling/1 rep per conversation) 

Notice the harried store clerk and comment on what she might be feeling, “This time of year must require a lot of patience.”  

Pay attention to your employees’ stress levels, “It must be tough to juggle everything this time of year with three young children--all the holiday activities plus our extra workload at year end.” 

To a peer, “You worked for weeks on that presentation, how frustrating that your time got cut to five minutes.” 

Although it might seem that these exercises might add to your own overloaded schedule, I think you might be pleasantly surprised to find that it actually has the reverse affect. The comfort and joy you bring to others will add to your own. 


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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