top of page

A Balancing Act(ivity) for the Holidays

This morning I spent some time in the Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit at North Carolina State University's Veterinary School of Medicine. They are one of my clients and I continue to be amazed at their compassion and focus. (Here's a quiet and appreciative "shout out" to members of the ECC Department.)

It made me think about what's really important.

Before I got to my meeting, I woke at 5:30 a.m. with a nervous energy inside of me. Holidays can take on a life of their own; as I lay there and thought about all the things I needed to do this weekend, my anxiety increased.

"Write it down and go back to sleep," my Inner Wisdom kept whispering to me.

I got out of bed completely exhausted and my day had not yet begun. "What's wrong with me?" I wondered to myself.

I love the holidays and my husband and I are spending a quiet Thanksgiving at home this year - there's really nothing I have to do - it doesn't really even matter if I cook a turkey - so what did I have to be stressed about? As I untangle my emotions, I see that I am excited and that I am also feeling overwhelmed. Most of the pressure is coming from the should part that lives inside of me.

I should set a pretty table. I should research some new recipes. I should make sure the garden is pretty. I should write my book. I should send that proposal. I should sweep the porch. I should get out of my pajamas. I should iron my shirt. I should make an appetizer. I should.... I should.... I should....

None of these things really matter to me. What really matters to me is being undistracted and present when I talk to my family members tomorrow on the phone. What really matters to me is sitting down with my husband who I will not see over the holidays - he will be conducting the "Messiah" and "Nutcracker" a million times this holiday season. What really matters is noticing the beautiful leaves outside of my house right now and stopping my activities to play with my dog. What really matters is....

What really matters to you?

Here's a "Balancing Activity" to help you sort it out.


Holiday Balancing Activity

Instructions: Take 5 minutes to write down your answers to the following questions.

What matters to you this season/weekend?

Make a list of the top 2-3 things.

Be as specific as possible.

Circle the most important one.

What's on your "to do" list?

If this isn't written down, take a few minutes now to write it out now. This will allow your brain to let it go.

Identify the "shoulds" on your to do list.

Reconsider each one.

Ask yourself, are the activities on your list aligned with what matters to you?

Cross out the ones that take you out of alignment with what you really want.

Commit to purposefully dropping at least 5 things on your list.

Breathe it out.

Take 3 slow deep breaths in and slowly release them. Relax the tension in your shoulders and face.

Breathe again.


"Keep it simple" will be my mantra this holiday season.

My table will not look like the featured picture in this blog tomorrow (but I like it anyway) - and I may stay in my pajamas - but my heart and mind will be in the right place.

Thanksgiving is a time to create harmony and strengthen relationships - with yourself - with your loved ones - and with all that matters to you.

Wishing you the very best,


© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information on strategic planning, coaching and/or motivational programs.​​

bottom of page