Can you believe it? December — the last month of the year — is here already. Okay, fess up. As soon as I said that, you started to get all stressed out. It used to happen to me too. December was the month I fell into the trap of realizing the year had gone by and I hadn’t done all I had intended to do. I had high hopes for the year, but just didn’t get the job done. What a downer!

Maybe you’re like that. Stressed out. Ready to give up on all the dreams and good intentions you had for 2019. Ready to throw in the towel, give up on 2019 and wait to see what next year brings. Here’s what I say to that. Don’t do it. Don’t ever throw in the towel and give up on your dreams. I love that saying, “I threw in the towel. God threw it back and said, ‘Wipe your face. You’re almost there.’”

So, here are 10 things (in no particular order) I’ll be doing to end my year on a high note because I believe I’m almost there. And, on January 1st, I’ll be ready to start the new decade with excitement and new dreams wrapped up in a “fresh” towel. What about you?

1. Send a Christmas letter

We started this tradition about 20 years ago not knowing if anyone would appreciate it or even read it. The simple one page letter has evolved into a Christmas card where we place our annual update in the middle and surround the update with pictures we’ve taken throughout the year. What we’ve learned is that our friends and family not only read the annual letter, they actually look forward to the updates. And, it’s a great reminder of all the blessings that came our way this year.

2. Invite a friend to coffee or lunch

The Holiday Season is a perfect time to invite a friend to lunch or for coffee. Life seems to go by so quickly, and the days, weeks and months are often filled to the brim. Before you know it, the year and all your good intentions will be gone. So, as the year comes to a close, pause and spend an hour or so with someone you wanted to connect with all year long, but just didn’t find time to make it happen. Make it happen now.

3. Dust off those goals

Too many people start off the year with resolutions or goals that simply fade over time. Let me say it again. There’s still time to reach for those goals — even if it’s only taking a few baby steps. Just start. Then, when the new year rolls around you’ll have something to be thankful for instead of throwing in your towel of regrets.

4. Relax. Reflect

This time of year, many people are on the go, go, go. But, it’s so important to take a time out every once in a while. Remember to relax and breathe. Try breathing in through your nose good thoughts, some love and peace and release all those negative thoughts by exhaling through your mouth. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. As often as needed. Then, take time to reflect on all the good things that happened this past year. All too often we tend to dwell on things that didn’t go as planned. Turn that around and instead reflect on all the things that went as planned or turned out being even better than what you had planned. I’ll bet you come up with more positive things than you expected you would.

5. Gratitude

If you don’t have a gratitude journal, there’s no time like the present to start. Your first entry could be all those positive things you uncovered in your pause, relax and reflect session. Once you write down all the good that has come your way this past year, take time to again pause and reflect. It’s good for the soul. Trust me on this.

6. Pet your dog

I have a Bouvier des Flandres puppy that makes me smile every single day. Every evening, I get down on the floor with her for about an hour or so and just snuggle. I love it when she flops down next to my leg, waiting for some love. Did you know that petting your cat or dog not only makes you feel good, it can lower your blood pressure, it helps your body release a relaxation hormone and it cuts down on levels of a stress hormone. It also soothes your pet! Puppy owners — take note!

7. Give hugs freely

Unfortunately, this time of year can be stressful for so many people. Hugs not only help you relieve your stress, hugs can also lift the spirit of the person on the receiving end. Scientists sometimes call the Oxytocin chemical in our bodies the “cuddle hormone.” This is because its levels rise when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone else. Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress. So, give hugs freely.

8. Walk in nature

Spending quiet time in nature, with only our own thoughts for company, provides a reprieve from the constant noise that bombards us daily. Research indicates that a walk in nature may soothe the mind and improve mental health. Walking provides a significant benefit because it helps to relieve stress and can boost endorphins, the hormones that improve your mood and lower stress and mild depression. Natural elements like plants, trees, water and sunlight have been said to absorb negative energy, leaving you with more positive energy! Contrary to what you might have been told, solitude is not selfish, it is a necessity, as much as food and water. It is something we need on a regular basis.

9. Smile

I absolutely love doing this! I encourage you to try it. When you’re walking down the street, in the supermarket or just about anywhere with people, make eye contact. Smile. Greet them in some way or better yet, wish them a Merry Christmas or happy holiday season. It will lift your spirits as well as theirs. I promise. We are bombarded with negative news and events daily. I challenge you to start a positive movement. All it takes is just one smile.

10. Turn up your favorite tunes

Listening to music — it doesn’t have to be Christmas music either — is a huge stress reliever during the holidays. The upbeat rhythm will increase oxygen and blood flow, which is healthy for the heart and the soul. I love listening to music and can get lost in the lyrics. I love the power of the written word. And, I’ll admit it right here. I start listening to Christmas music around the middle of November. I makes me feel good.

And, A Bonus Tip!
11. Accept you can’t do everything!

The tendency to go overboard with gifts, food, and family gatherings can really wear you down during the holidays. If you’re stressed out about everything, you won’t be able to enjoy anything. So, realize that you can’t do everything on your own. Enlist helpers to make the essentials happen, leave some things out and make sure you leave some time to relax and actually enjoy your friendships, your family and the holidays.

Now, it’s your turn! What will you do to close out 2019 on a positive note? And, if you’re already thinking about how to start the new year off on the right foot, be sure to grab your copy of my FREE template that reveals the #1 secret to living each day by design without feeling overwhelmed. Just fill out the form below! Enjoy your journey!