find stillness at Christmas

by | Dec 19, 2016 | Leadership

“Nothing is so urgent as sitting still” Pico Iyer

The good thing about taking a break at Christmas is that it’s virtually the one time in the year when there is almost a universal work hiatus. You can be fairly confident that you’re not going to have a backlog of work and emails when you get back to work because everyone else is taking a break too.

Saying that, I’m hearing a lot of people experiencing overwhelm as they approach the festive season. They’re feeling like they’ve been on a marathon in work and life since the summer break, with Christmas as the finishing line. Then there’s the lead-up – writing cards, buying presents, planning for the event itself – before perhaps hosting a number of family and friends with all the potential friction that can entail.

You can end up coming out of Christmas as frazzled as you went into it.

So what if you could make time to sit still and do nothing? I mean literally nothing. No devices, no TV, no radio. Staring out of the window, or perhaps at the ceiling. When are bodies and minds are constantly “on”, this can feel quite uncomfortable – I speak from personal experience! Yet how do we find our way back to ourselves when we are constantly in motion, fuelled by cortisol and adrenalin?

Chronic stress cuts off the bloodflow to the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain which helps us to think, to solve problems, to reason. Without our prefrontal cortex functioning, we’re more impulsive and unaware. And that’s not great news for dealing with your mother-in-law on Christmas Day let alone for leadership!

If you’ve got 15 minutes before you down tools for Christmas, check out this TED talk by travel writer Pico Iyer The Art of Stillness. He explores the insight that can be gained from taking time to be still, and suggests practical ways of taking a few moments out of every day for quiet time. Perhaps some inspiration for you to steal some quiet moments during the holiday.

And if you would like some bite-sized guidance for making more space in your daily life, I recommend The Art of Stopping Time by Pedram Shojai, author of The Urban Monk. Also a good stocking filler for a stressed-out spouse.

Me? I’m off to a cottage in Normandy for the duration and looking forward to a lot of quiet time and to returning refuelled and recharged in the New Year.

Whatever the coming weeks hold for you, I wish you a very happy and restful Christmas, and a successful and fulfilling year ahead!

Related posts : Become a better leader over Christmas

Alison Reid is a leadership expert helping senior managers and directors conquer new leadership challenges and drive business growth. She specialises in helping them overcome the fears which hold them back from showing up to their full potential. Alison is an accredited coach, experienced facilitator and speaker.


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Alison Reid is an experienced executive coach who helps senior managers and directors lead with confidence and step-change their influence and impact. She works with them 1-1, empowering them to focus on what matters, communicate with impact and stay calm under pressure so they can lead themselves and others to great results. She's the author of Unleash Your Leadership : How to Worry Less and Achieve More. Download an extract or buy the book.

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