Happy Dec. 1st! I've had my first Eggnog latte of the season, have began to play my Christmas Carol playlist, and officially have my Christmas tree up and decorated. Presents have been purchased. Some (most) have been wrapped. Let the festivities begin! December is my favourite month of the year. I confess that I still believe in the magic of Christmas. I want to believe that there is peace, love, and goodwill in each and everyone of us.
Why, then, is December an incredibly stressful month?
Perhaps it is the hustle and bustle of shoppers and trying to locate parking spaces. Maybe it is the increased effort to get together with family and friends that you don't typically see during other times in the year? Is it the change in sleep, eating, and exercising routine? The year-end Christmas performances and exams? The beginning of the competitive season? .... there are probably a number of reasons why December is so stressful.
Being under increased stress affects our performance. This is a well known fact. Increases in stress can 'enhance' our performance. For example, some students I speak with are emphatic about writing papers at the last minute. They state that the increased stress of a deadline helps to focus thinking and writing (Unfortunately I've never been one of those people). Increases in stress can also 'debilitate' our performance. Stress may cause one to freeze, stutter, or produce an asynchronity to our performance. Just this past weekend, stress had this type of an affect on me. I've travelled to visit my family from my current location at least 7 times in the past 4 months. Packing for this type of trip has been well practiced - I know exactly what to bring and how much time it should take to put it together. However, this time, several blunders occurred. Fortunately the blunders were not serious and were merely inconveniences: I forgot to put my memory card back into my camera (causing me to miss the priceless photos of a 2 year old's birthday party, and my daughter's expression at her first Disney on Ice performance), I misplaced my wallet (Mom picked up the tab), and I forgot my contact lens case.
A NEW IDEA.I can be my best performing self even during an increased stress state. An IDEAL environment (internal or external) IS NOT NECESSARY to perform my best.
This is the central idea behind the MINDFULNESS-ACCEPTANCE-COMMITMENT (MAC) philosophy towards peak performance. During the month of December, I want to talk about mindfulness training and MACing performance. I want to share what I've learned about staying in the moment and seeking an awareness (mindfulness) as to what is most important for a given performance. I want to share some ideas about stress and "suffering" and how you can release yourself from this state. Finally, I want to inspire you this Christmas season to be your best self despite the 'hustle and bustle' and chaos of the holiday cheer.