We expect that many of you will be welcoming the New Year with open arms, hope, optimism and some with maybe a sense of ‘goodbye and good riddance’ to 2020.
The focus of this blog is how you’re going to master your GAME PLAY for the coming holiday season, GAME being an acronym and PLAY being just that!
There’s no doubt it’s been a tough year and it is going to be all too easy to carry our woes, frustrations and fears into the coming weeks, but chances are if we do that, we will be not be starting 2021 at our best.
So how do we avoid doing this? We’ve put together a little GAME plan for you that we hope will steer you in the best direction possible for the coming weeks and our entry into the New Year.
G – stands for GRATITUDE
If 2020 has taught us nothing else, it has given us the opportunity to reflect on what is most important to us. There is a wise saying that ‘the first wealth is health’. We may have known this before, but now deeply understand it. Our sympathies go out to all those reading who have experienced any form of ill health or loss this year.
Research from the field of Positive Psychology shows that grateful people tend to cope with stress and deal with negative emotions more effectively, so focusing on being grateful is well worth the effort.
Our top GRATITUDE tip:-
In the coming weeks we would encourage you to reflect on 2020 with an attitude of gratitude. List everything that you have learned and appreciated this year and actively look for the gifts in the challenges.
A – stands for ADAPTABILITY
So when we’re actively cultivating an attitude of gratitude, we are also increasing our ability to adapt to whatever life throws at us. There is a Tanzanian proverb that says “The wind does not break the tree that bends”.
One way we can learn to ‘bend’ and build greater adaptability and resilience, is to use the technique of ‘reframing’. Reframing enables us to look at any given situation through a different frame or lens, that can instantly change our attitude from negative to positive, from gloomy to optimistic or from frustrated to calm.
Here are our top reframes for the season!
M – stands for MINDFULNESS
We’ve written before about the gift of Christmas Presence and, in our opinion, there has never been a more important time to practise being present in the moment than now. The media is bombarding us with news about when a vaccine will be available, when we can travel internationally again, when we’ll be returning to the office etc. etc. The reality is that we have zero control over most or all of these future factors, so here are our top tips for a mindful holiday break:-
- Go for a walk in nature, without a digital device, and be serenaded by the sights, sounds and smells around you
- Watch someone open a gift and be intensely present, look for their reaction (hopefully it’s a good one!), their excitement and their appreciation. This will be magnified if you are watching children
- Do the simple things mindfully – taking a shower, getting dressed, brushing your teeth – whatever the task, when you find your mind wandering, just come back to the task at hand
- Commit to at least one digital-free day
E – stands for EMPATHY
In times of challenge and change, it’s a normal psychological reaction to turn inwards under pressure, to retreat and focus on self-preservation. The other end of that continuum is to lash out in frustration, anger or despair.
We know from the field of Positive Psychology that when we focus on others, we build our levels of resilience. We gain different perspectives and this in turn builds our capacity to deal with change.
Developing empathy, we believe, is a lifelong skill. In 1895, Mary T Lathrap wrote a poem called ‘Judge Softly’, where the term ‘don’t judge a person until you have walked a mile in their moccasins’ originates. We recently heard an addition that sums empathy up to a tee – ‘and remember to take your own shoes off first’.
Christmas can be a time where we get fraught, frazzled and frustrated – especially with others, so here are our top tips for building empathy with someone who needs it:-
- Name the emotion that someone is expressing e.g. “that sounds very frustrating for you” or “I can see that you’re angry” (naming emotions helps to dampen down the brain’s emotional response i.e. ‘name it to tame it’)
- Avoid responding with “I understand”. We are all experiencing a unique version of events and saying this, however well intended, can break rapport
- Sit, be present and actively listen – most times people are looking for an empathic ear, not advice
- Once they’ve been heard simply ask, “how can I help?”
It’s been a busy year for all, getting to grips with working virtually, pivoting our businesses (yes we used the P word!), home schooling for some, cancelling holidays and trying to get refunds – the list is endless.
It’s time to PLAY and we’re very serious about it! When we play, we release endorphins, our body’s natural pain killers. We release happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin which activate our parasympathetic nervous system to calm us down and counteract the effects of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Play fires up the brain to be more creative and improve problem-solving ability. Author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown compares play to oxygen. He writes, “It’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing”.
So here are our top tips for play this holiday season:-
- Turn the TV off and engage in some old-fashioned Christmas games like charades, cards or the ‘guess who’ post-it note on the forehead game
- Dance! Put on some of your favourite tunes and boogy till you’re pooped!
- If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, get outside and play on the land or in the surf – throwing a frisbee is a simple way to have fun!
- If you’re lucky enough to have snow, build a snowman and have a snowball fight!
- Combine play with exercise – fly a kite, hula hoop, skip (with or without a rope!), play tag
- Be prepared to make a complete and utter fool of yourself!
This fascinating TED Talk by Stuart Brown ‘Play is more than just Fun’ (26m inc Q&A), explores more than 8 different types of play and debunks the myth that the purpose of play is to prepare children for adulthood. His talk starts with the story of a hungry polar bear and a frightened tethered husky.
Whether we’re saying good riddance or thank you for 2020, there’s time these coming weeks to acknowledge an extraordinary time in our human history and maybe, just maybe, there will never be a better time to press the reset button and start 2021 at your very best.
Storytelling is one of the many forms of play Stuart Brown mentioned. Clare wrote a book for communicators and leaders and the power of story called ‘A Sprinkling of Magic’ available here on Amazon paperback and Kindle.
We’ve been writing our newsletters and blogs for a number of years now, so here’s a compilation of our previous Holiday journals:-
We trust that you will be able to take one or a few ideas from our tips and we both wish you the very best experience you can possibly have this holiday season.
Please share this blog with anyone you think could benefit – thank you.
Anne and Clare