Relax During the Holidays

Relax during the holidays with these five steps.

The missing Christmas music in stores, the congested checkout lines, and the lack of manger scenes in town are all symptoms of a hectic life. The holidays can be stressful for many, with the added pressure of gift-giving, traveling, and family gatherings. It’s essential to take time for yourself and relax during this busy season.

Here are a handful of tips for relaxing during the holidays:

Practice Mindfulness

Being in the moment can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths and focusing on who or what is in front of us. Shutting off the past and the future opens us up to the unique things that only happen in the present moment. Let go of your worries and stress, and be present by listening to others and observing their actions.

Do you know what I like most about practicing mindfulness?

When I listen attentively with a clear focus on the person I’m with, I remember what they say for weeks to come. I don’t have to memorize anything because the information is naturally stored in my brain for recall.

Take a Break from Social Media

It’s easy to get caught up in the constant stream of information and updates on social media, but it can also be overwhelming. Taking a break from screens can help you relax and recharge. Avoiding flickering images for a time will relax your mind.

There’s a direct correlation between social media viewing into the wee hours and exhaustion from a lack of sleep. Some compensate by using special glasses or blue light but turning off all devices an hour before bedtime is much easier. After a week of this practice, you’ll find improved levels of deep sleep.

Exercise or Do Something Active.

Physical activity can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Whether going for a walk or hitting the gym, finding time for movement can do wonders for your relaxation.

Numerous publications remind us that our bodies were never designed for sitting. Using standing desks, short breaks at the top of every hour, and parking in a spot further from the door always adds to our movement and health.

Find a Hobby or Activity that Brings Joy

Whether reading, knitting, model making, or cooking, finding something you enjoy can be a great way to relax and unwind. Hobbies and sports can bring balance to our lives with a refreshing turn of events or life patterns. Any form of recreation will reenergize our minds and bodies.

Make Time for Self-Care

This could be as simple as taking a hot bath or getting a massage. Taking time for yourself can help you relax and recharge. More importantly, it’ll help you build self-confidence and see your innate value, not your performance value.

Remember, taking a break and relaxing during the holidays is okay. It’s essential to take care of yourself and not get too caught up in the hustle and bustle. Try incorporating some relaxation techniques into your holiday routine and see how they work.

Copyright © 2022 by CJ Powers

7-Keys to Develop Story from Memories

building stories based on memories

Do you want to be a storyteller?

It is not as difficult as you might think. Telling a memory-building story can help people remember what they learned, which will make them more likely to seek you out in the future.

Today, I’m going to share about 7 keys that will help you tell a memorable story.

Key One: Engage your memory.

When you want to tell a story, the first thing to do is remember what happened and try not to forget any important details. The polish and shine of a story comes from the details.

You can begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What time did it happen?
  • Where was I when it happened?
  • What were my thoughts at that moment?
  • Who else was with me?
  • Can I remember what we were wearing or any details surrounding the event?

Once you’ve grappled with these items, consider which will help build or strengthen the story for others.

When I share a few stories about my dad’s life as a cop, the details raise the audience’s curiosity and bring life to the story. The details help the listeners live vicariously through your story.

Key Two: Be specific.

Once you’ve remembered everything, be as detailed as possible. This will help people who are listening to your story better understand and visualize each memory. It is also a good idea to include sensory descriptions that connect with people on an emotional level.

To salt these into your story at the right time, you’ll need to prepare by thinking about the following:

  • What were the smells?
  • What types of sounds were present?
  • What did you see?
  • How does it feel to recall that memory again?

Be careful to not use too many descriptors as it will slow down your story. Instead, use just enough to help the audience experience the moment as if they are reliving it with you moment by moment.

Key Three: Stick with a single idea.

Avoid jumping around, as this will make your story hard for people to follow. It’s too easy to lose interest in what you have to say if they can’t follow you. Be sure each memory relates in some way to the overall story you are trying to tell.

Some may not seem related on the surface, so make sure there is a point when your reason for sharing it comes clear.

When sculpting the information consider the following:

What is one memory that connects with another memory?

Can I find a common theme or thread between my memories?

Make sure you drop those portions of memories that you like, but aren’t associated with the point you’re trying to make. Or, your audience will become confused.

Key Four: Keep it personal.

Storytelling is all about connecting with the audience and being vulnerable. This means you should share your memory as if it was happening in real time, not just describe what happened.

Once people feel like they are a part of your story, they will be more willing to listen for longer periods of time. Your audience will stay connected to see how the memory ends.

Consider some of the following to determine the level of authenticity you can bring to your story:

  • What was my reaction at the time when the memory was created?
  • What did I think would happen next?
  • How does it feel to remember that memory so long after the event?
  • Do I have a completely different perspective about what happened in the memory?

When we look at memories from through retrospect, our growth from the circumstance can alter our perception. Many times, these new insights can help us set up our story for greater impact.

Key Five: Use an element of surprise.

When telling your story, you want people to be surprised by what you say. If your memory is not interesting, be sure to mention something that people might not have been expecting.

Or, find a way to express the memory using elements of surprise or twists within the story. These elements will your audience interested and listening.

Here are some ideas to contemplate when structuring your surprise elements:

  • Why did I do the thing that made me so angry?
  • What could’ve happened if this memory didn’t happen?

The key is to interrupt the standard thought process to reengage any audience members who are drifting from your story.

Key Six: Make it visual.

When telling a memory, be sure to mention the sights and sounds that were present in your memory from when you experienced them originally. This will help people who are listening visualize what happened better than describing it with words alone.

You can ask yourself the following:

  • What colors did I see?
  • What shapes or patterns did I see?
  • What did the memory sound like?
  • What was the temperature of my memory when I experienced it originally?

Today’s society is more visually aware than previous generations. Finding a way to help the audience visualize your story will strengthen their engagement.

Key Seven: Use emotion.

When telling a story, you want to be able to connect with people on an emotional level. If your memory is not interesting enough or does not have an element of surprise, you can always make it more emotional.

This will help people be able to remember your story, and they may even share their own memory that is similar in some way to yours.

To capture the essence of those feelings, consider asking yourself the following:

  • How did I feel after the memory?
  • How does it feel now when I think back on this memory again after so long?

People will rarely remember the facts and figures you describe. They may even forget the stories you share. But, they will always remember how you made them feel while sharing your story.

Make Your Story Memorable

Your story must have a specific time, location, and characters involved. The story must relate the characters choices and actions. Describe those actions as if it were a plot that unravels as you tell it, putting the audience into an experience or journey.

Make sure it is an emotional story that makes them laugh or cry. Give them a character worth cheering for. And then make sure to take the story in a direction they never saw coming.

These are the key elements worth exploring. Take time to dive into your next memory and find a great story worth sculpting for your audience. Make it entertaining and applicable to your message so they remember you for months to come.

Copyright © 2021 by CJ Powers

The New Power Couple

I have a friend who dreams of finding the right guy. She longs to be part of a team that helps others and makes a difference in life. It’s her lifelong goal to be half of a power couple.

This is a common desire for both men and women in the early stages of healthy dating. We always want to dream of our future and picture our teammate helping to make sure our dreams come true. And most of us want to reciprocate.

But in many marriages, one of the two individuals bring a critical eye to the relationship. Most of the time the couple takes turns being critical of the other.

For instance, one might be a neat freak and the other sloppy. The sloppy person gets criticized in hopes that they will one day mature and pick up after themselves. But alas, that person has a mental aversion to putting things away.

The table turns on the couple when it comes to finances. The person that leaves their socks on the floor happens to be great at investments and has doubled the couple’s money every seven years. But, the neat freak spends every extra dollar they get.

If you want to turn your marriage into a power couple or dream team, consider these four steps to empower a healthy marriage.

Affirm Away the Critical

We can never change the other person. But the more we affirm the right actions, the more likely they will choose to do similar things in the future. When we’re critical of each other, we want to spend less time together. But when we hear our spouse praise our actions that make the marriage work, we tend to repeat those behaviors more often.

I did something similar with my kids as they grew up. I’d keep a keen eye on them so the moment they did something helpful for the family, I’d bath them in praise. That positive affirmation improved our family. Everyone wanted to see the family succeed.

This team atmosphere empowered us to do some remarkable things. We made a radio drama that aired on WGN Radio as a part of a family competition. where we received an all-expenses-paid vacation to Disneyland. We made an animated cartoon and our family story got published in a Chicago newspaper. We also did more local things including building a cardboard boat and competed in a boat regatta. And, we took first place for most original float one fourth of July.

Brag on Your Spouse in Public

Every time you praise your spouse in public, you strengthen your marriage. That positive energy lifts our spouse and solidifies in everyone’s mind that you two are a team. This works even better when your spouse overhears your comments.

Great compliments are about your spouse’s character traits, actions, and giftings. The key is to be authentic and not force the topic. The positive comment must fit the conversation. If it comes out of the blue, it seems disingenuous.

Back when I was married, my wife had a goal of writing a magazine article for a major magazine. She was a wonderful writer and the competition was intense. When she got her breakthrough, I understood what a joyous moment that was.

I couldn’t help but share it with friends and throw her a surprise autograph party. I got enough copies of the national magazine featuring her article so she could sign a copy for everyone. While she didn’t like being in the spotlight, everyone knew that I was proud of her.

Care for Your Spouse’s Overzealous Strengths

I was once taught that our giftings are both a blessing and a curse. For instance, the person gifted with perseverance might come across as stubborn. We love that their perseverance will help us all to succeed, but we can’t stand it when they won’t take a break at times.

Some of my friends love my diverse background and eclectic knowledge. But there are times when they can see my mental wheels turning and wish that I’d turn off my brain for a time. Some have gotten upset to the point of calling me a know-it-all.

A great spouse and team player would signal me when my sharing gets over the top. After all, I can get caught up in the moment and over-share at times. A good teammate can help us navigate our zealousness.

Divvy-up Bad Chores

In all relationships, we learn that both individuals hate certain chores. At that point, we have to discuss who will take on what issues so our couple-ness can prosper.

I remember a time when I was married, my wife made it clear that she was not able to pick up after the dog barfed. She could handle dirty diapers, but animal vomit that turned her green.

At that moment, we decided that I’d be the primary cleaner when one of our dogs got sick. In turn, she wanted to be the primary diaper changer. Over our 23-year marriage, we both handle both types of clean-up. When we were both available, we took care of our primary functions to keep us moving forward.

Build Your Power Couple Dream Team

Keep an eye out to find your spouse doing something right and give them praise. When given an open door in conversation, take time to brag about your spouse in public.

Don’t let your spouse’s overzealous passions separate you. Instead, keep them in a healthy zone using signals. And, learn what chores your spouse can’t stand and lighten their load by picking up what you can handle.

By focusing on these things daily, you’ll guide your couple’s dream team into a new world of leadership. Many people are desperate for a healthy marriage role model couple. It’s time for you to practice these steps and help those around you do the same.

Copyright © 2021 by CJ Powers