In COVID and Christmas 2020, consider these 6 tips for gift giving during this special year
The year of 2020 pummeled us all. It reminded us that, overnight, everything can change. Our health, our businesses and our plans are never guaranteed. Those who have positively impacted our lives this year have gone above and beyond to do so, remembering us amidst the chaos of the pandemic.
That’s why showing gratitude is more important than ever in 2020. So, give thought to important relationships and be intentional about honoring them (if the relationship is a work connection, this could even plant a seed to be harvested in the future in the form of an introduction or a job opportunity).
While the past nine months have often felt dark, we have the opportunity to share the light of the holiday season.
This month, a gesture of appreciation may mean far more to someone than in years past – especially because many people both feel emotionally depleted and have scaled back their buying-for-self, from stuff to services.
A September 2020 survey, for example, showed that half of respondents’ monthly spending decreased over the past 12 months for reasons ranging from “worrying about the current economic situation” to “loss/decrease in another source of household income.”
Here are six tips for gifting during these difficult times:
1. Customize your kindness
If you know that someone on your gift list has been hit hard financially by the pandemic, a gift card that could be used for necessities may be far more valuable to them than having something to unwrap.
On the other hand, for those fortunate enough to have pocketbooks that are unscathed, a check or gift card may not be the best choice. Instead, choose a thoughtful gift tailored to their interests or life situation to make an emotional impact.
2. Don’t wait till it’s too late
More people will be mailing gifts this year, as travel is still restricted, so shipping times may be delayed. Don’t wait until the last minute to send gifts out; do it now. (And even if your to-be recipients are local, you may face unique hurdles to crossing off your list last-minute, as most stores have reduced their allowed capacity, and there are shortages in some consumer goods, such as electronics.)
3. Don’t create compromising positions
While spa days and steak dinners may be traditional go-to gift certificates, consider avoiding gifts that might require the recipient to jeopardize his or her own health and safety (or that they would be unable to use for several months due to health and safety concerns).
If you’re baking for others, take precautions like frequent hand washing and wearing a mask.
4. Consider juicing up your generosity
If you are fortunate enough to have done well in 2020 despite all of its challenges, consider giving a bit more than you normally would.
This year, a generous gift could make a bigger impact than ever before.
5. Kindness is free
If your budget is tight, a thoughtful, handwritten card or a handmade gift would be most appreciated without breaking the bank. One of the five love languages identified by Gary D. Chapman is “words of affirmation” – and the same goes for platonic love! Telling others how much you value them can be even more powerful than gift-giving.
6. Support small businesses
Many mom-and-pop shops have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and stimulus money isn’t making ends meet.
Buying beyond big box stores could literally put food on the table for a family or help save a small business owner’s dream.
No matter which gift-giving approach you take this holiday season, gratitude should be the bow on top.
Express to others that you appreciate them – and, in some cases, could not have gotten through 2020 without them. While many of us have lost so much this year, we still have so much for which we can be grateful and our relationships should top the list.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach (and soon-to-be Georgetown University-certified health & wellness coach), Corentus-certified team coach, and the founder of LAErrico & Partners.
This article was first published by FOX BUSINESS: https://fxn.ws/3ssLqDv
This has been a year like no other – but when 2020 gives you LOTS and LOTS of lemons, make hot toddies! It’s finally the holiday season, after all.
So many of us are ready to put 2020 behind us, and taking the time now to stop and reflect on everything we’ve learned since March will help us get back on track in 2021 and hit our stride. May I offer to you that you keep the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, even if you feel like your goals for next year are simple and small. Re-centering yourself around your 2021 vision will empower you to start the New Year with focus, calm and clarity.
As Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myth:
There’s a center of quietness within, which has to be known and held. If you lose that center, you are in tension and begin to fall apart.
Here are five questions for self-reflection that will lay the foundation for meaningful resolution writing (YES, put them on paper – here's an easy-to-use chart for download):
Before 2021 begins, reflect on your personal growth during 2020. It was a hard year, and you should give yourself credit for your resilience. Most importantly, identify the lessons you learned and the new boundaries that need to emerge and apply that knowledge, insight and understanding to positively shape your future. New Year’s resolutions are your chance to map out a plan that you can use to reach your desired destination.
May we all cap off 2020 with a holiday season of hope, rejuvenation and relief.
The way teams work make look a little different than it did a year ago – but the need for team unity remains.
Why team coaching?
Know of a team leader who might be interested in heightening his or her team’s and organization’s performance in 2021? We'd love to connect.
Let's All Be Humans
By Leigh Ann Errico, Executive and Team Coach at LAeRRICO & partners
“I can’t wait for things to go back to normal” is a line that I’ve heard more times than I can count this year. While we all miss certain aspects of life pre-pandemic, not all of the changes brought on by coronavirus are bad. For one, the collective embrace of our humanness is a shift that I hope is here to stay.
Before March of this year, most people showed up to their place of work every day primped, preened and put-together (although likely frazzled behind the façade). They were able to compartmentalize their life from their work—and were expected to.
But life isn’t drawn with clean lines; it’s messy—and 2020 has finally given us permission for the mess to be seen.
As Pema Chödrön said:
We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
For the past several months, we’ve all been reminded that our co-workers have families…because of children photobombing or making noise in the background during Zoom calls. That we’re not invincible…because either we or those we know have gotten sick or lost loved ones. That work-life balance is important…because of finally having the chance to go on a walk outside during the work day, when the temperature’s just right.
I feel like this year has given me the chance to exhale with my whole being, and I don’t want to go back to holding my breath. Do you feel the same? The only way for us to hold onto this positive of the pandemic will be to clearly and thoughtfully redraw our boundaries.
Someday, hopefully soon, when the virus mostly goes away and we go back to the office, even if just part-time, boundaries will need to be a central focus of teams—both learning to create new ones for oneself and to respect the new boundaries of others. We’ll need to spend time in self-reflection to identify our own unique needs, then clearly make request(s) to other(s) in order to realize the vision for our new life with new boundaries. We’ll also need to stop questioning the dedication or motivations of others, based on how much they let their life bleed into their work. We’ll need to learn to build buffers into our schedules, to respect certain times of the day as off-limits, to pursue more workplace flexibility, to take the time off that we need to recharge, and to forget feeling like we have to hide the fact that there’s more to our lives than earning our paychecks.
Making this humanness stick post-pandemic is a mission that I hope we’ll all get behind, because life’s just better when it’s served raw and lived authentically. I’m so passionate about the value of this COVID-driven transformation that I applied for and enrolled in the Health & Wellness Coaching certification program at Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership this year. My 2020 pivot to make supporting well-being even more integral to my coaching practice is so that I’m expertly-equipped to help employees and teams reprogram themselves to revere humanness, rather than reject it. We all finally understand its importance thanks to the pandemic, and science shows, after all, that better mental and physical health unleashes productivity, creativity and success in our work.
We’re not robots; we’re not fairy tale characters; we’re not photoshopped models…we’re humans—and we should be the best humans that we can be.
Moving forward, 2020 will be referenced as a turn in the zigzag of our lives. “Pre-pandemic” and “post-pandemic” will be used to differentiate between two distinctly different time periods. My goal is to help you and your team make humanness a defining characteristic of your post-pandemic life. Are you with me? If so, let’s talk!
Harness your power to choose and escape
By Leigh Ann Errico, Executive and Team Coach at LAeRRICO & partners
We all have choices. In challenging times, the choice is choosing what we pay attention to and where we direct our focus. During a global pandemic and a U.S. election year, it’s tempting to focus on the unknown, the “swirl,” the what-if scenarios – but the questions we all have to ask ourselves are, “How is this serving me? What is the most powerful, healthy and productive choice I can make here and now?” Below are tips to help keep anxiety at bay:
1. Watch the news less
It’s one thing to check the local weather and get a basic idea of what’s happening in your community. Watching the news for hours on end, however, is entirely another. Once you have information about what’s going on in your world, have the presence of mind to step away. Let your heart and soul rest from negative news. Allowing the same heavy content to be pushed on you for hours every day feeds anxiety. Fight it instead by going on a hike, grabbing a good book or watching a light-hearted show to escape and relax.
2. Focus on what’s in your control
Not letting things that worry you hijack your attention is easier said than done, but mastering this form of self-control is vital to managing stress. Let go of things that you, personally, can’t control. Can you single-handedly choose who’s elected president? Nope. Can you have an impact on the outcome and make your voice heard? Yep! Replace big concerns with small proactive steps you can take to counteract them.
3. Use free time productively
The time we spend ruminating on current events can be put to much better use. If you’ve recently lost a job or been forced to spend more time at home, then perhaps there’s an opportunity to learn a new skill or hobby. Take your professional knowledge to the next level with podcasts, audiobooks, and online courses. Revise your resume, network with people with whom you’ve been meaning to reconnect. Plan your days by dedicating your focus to specific tasks during designated time slots. Ideally, plan ahead (at least the day before) so you can wake up with a positive and productive mission in mind.
4. Create healthy distractions
Replace worry with distractions that break you away from unhealthy obsessions. This can be as simple as dialing up a loved one (and not talking about everything that’s wrong in the world). Create rituals to spend time with those you care about – make a meal, watch a new Netflix series, or exercise together.
5. Utilize Appreciative Inquiry (AI)
Telling people how you feel and what you appreciate about them is a valuable practice, especially during tough times. Examine your life: What resources are available to you? For what are you grateful? The pioneer of Appreciative Inquiry David Cooperrider’s “Ah-Ha!” moment came when he and his team member found themselves in an increasingly hostile and negative atmosphere while working on a research project and decided to change their approach. Rather than inquire into what was NOT working, they decided to examine what was in fact going well. The revelation was that inquiry itself can powerfully shape the way we perceive and develop our systems and support as human beings. Change your thoughts in order to shift your mindset, your disposition and your energy into a more positive direction.
6. Just breathe
Stress and anxiety can have a number of physical, as well as emotional, consequences. When we are anxious, for example, we often take more frequent, shallow breaths. This can lead to tightness in the chest and even panic attacks. Simple breathing exercises, used when overwhelmed, can be remarkably effective at calming stress and anxiety. Box Breathing, a tool often used by Navy Seals to stay calm in stressful situations, can be done quickly and discreetly. Close your mouth and slowly breathe in through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath for four seconds. Then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Hold the exhale for another four counts.
Did you know the Apple watch has a reminder to breathe? But no fancy device needed, you can simply set any timer to prompt you to stop and do deep breathing exercises – if you’re feeling really anxious, every half an hour!
When we feel like our back is against the wall, we must be intentional to find mental escape. Amidst the pandemic, it’s up to each one of us to do our best to not only protect our bodies from the virus but our heads from the disease of negative thinking. Make choices every day that will serve you well.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach, Corentus-certified team coach and the founder of LAErrico & Partners.
This article was first published by ThriveGlobal: https://bit.ly/2SyGixc
During periods of stress and uncertainty, neglecting your health and self-care will only stand in the way of doing your best work.
BY LEIGH ANN ERRICO
Many American workers are long-delaying their vacations due to the pandemic. But what are the consequences of running and running without a break?
For some people, they don’t want to use vacation days if they can’t do the types of trips they usually take. For others, they’re tightening their grips on their jobs, afraid their positions will slip away. In both cases, the hesitation can be damaging to their health.
Overworking leads to burnout. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as being characterized by three dimensions—feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from or cynicism towards one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.
According to an April 2020 survey by Eagle Hill Consulting, nearly half of U.S. employees (45%) say they are burnt out, with one in four feeling this way because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The top causes of burnout include workload (45%), trying to juggle professional and personal life (35%), a lack of communication (32%) and time pressures (30%). More than one-third (36%) of employees say their organization is not taking action to combat employee burnout. However some forward-thinking organizations are proactively promoting mental and physical wellness.
One such company is the Denver-based computer software firm, Ping Identity, which offers employees unlimited vacation. But because his team wasn’t taking advantage of it, CEO Andre Durand has started creating “artificial holidays,” or building more opportunities into employees’ schedules to take time off. Another solution, one company with which I work is designating a two-week “rejuvenation period.” Employees are asked to abstain from all meetings and either take the time off or use it to get caught up in their jobs.
When it’s expected of workers to take time off and the entire group is asked to do it, that can be the permission employees need to disconnect. During these times, it’s the responsibility of leaders to disrupt the herd mentality and support overall wellness.
Amidst this pandemic, a unique anthropological study is being written. While some organizations are giving back to employees the time previously spent commuting by making those hours off-limits from meetings, others are trying to reallocate the time to lengthen the workday. And because meetings now take place without even a stroll down the hallway, more are being scheduled, leaving no buffer time to actually do work, plan, be present, and listen to colleagues. Research published in the Harvard Business Review indicates that the more time pressure people feel on a given day, the less likely they will be to think creatively. In other words, workers need white space on their canvas every day.
Angst about job security and financial security right now is pervasive. It’s hard to ignore that the COVID-19 crisis has already thrown millions out of work. People worry that if they take a break, they’ll appear uncommitted to their jobs and their roles may be jeopardized. But quite the contrary: They should take a break to avoid burnout and continue doing their jobs well; work-life balance makes career success sustainable.
During a period of crisis, self-care is even more critical. Sleep, diet, exercise, stretching, supplements and meditation are needed to support well-being and must be pursued with intention. And vacation-induced relaxation can do wonders for your health. According to research, vacations reduce stress, which negatively impacts blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other measures of health. Syracuse University researchers found that risk for metabolic syndrome—a group of conditions that puts people at higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke—decreased by nearly a quarter with each additional vacation taken by study participants. And the closer to takeoff, the less people’s heart rates were affected when exposed to stressful situations leading up to a vacation.
The blurring of home and work life has put more and more people at danger of burning out. The more time we continue this work-from-home experiment, the more important it is to take time off to avoid feeling dissatisfied over your work.
So, if you’re not sure if you should take time off—the answer is probably yes.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach, Corentus-certified team coach and the founder of LAErrico & Partners.
This article was first published by Fast Company: https://bit.ly/2FbiuvQ
By Leigh Ann Errico
As members of a society addicted to faster living, we often feel pressure to make it on less sleep than our bodies need. But contrary to societal beliefs, sleep is not for the weak; it actually helps our bodies stay strong. Nor does getting enough sleep mean we’re lazy; in reality, we’re more productive at home and work when we’re well-rested.
If you’re motivated to fit 28 hours into a 24-hour day, is powering through on as little sleep as possible even healthy? Science has weighed in, and the extent of sleep deprivation’s impact might surprise you.
How Sleep Deprivation Effects Brain Function:
In his book, Why We Sleep, Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, shows that going without sleep for one-night decreases learning capacity by 40% (hear that teens and 20-somethings who can still pull all-nighters?). Professor Walker also reveals that, after 36 hours without sleep, levels of amyloid-beta, a protein closely associated with Alzheimer’s disease, are increased by as much as 25-30%, suggesting that running on fumes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Walker’s work also demonstrates that sleep deprivation can affect our decision-making skills and damage our ability to create and maintain relationships. How? Sleep deprivation alters function in the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center, making you up to 60% more prone to impulsive behavior.
Lack of Sleep Effect on Immune Function:
Walker’s research also indicates that cutting sleep duration reduces the activity of natural killer cells, also known as NK cells or large granular lymphocytes (LGL), by up to 70%. These cells help clear out damaged tissue that can become cancerous. Additionally, doctors report that a lack of sleep can increase our risk of infection. According to a study led by a UC San Francisco sleep researcher, “subjects who had slept less than six hours a night the week before were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold compared to those who got more than seven hours of sleep, and those who slept less than five hours were 4.5 times more likely.”
Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain:
Professor Walker also explains that lack of sleep has been shown to impair beta-cell function, reducing insulin production in the pancreas and increasing insulin resistance among muscle and fat cells, both of which are the signs of Type 2 Diabetes. This change in blood sugar can lead to rapid weight gain as the body loses its ability to correctly use its fuel. Of interest, Professor Walker also notes in his book that poor sleep often leads to overeating…200-300 additional calories per meal, as sleep deprivation causes the body to crave high-calorie foods! Who would have guessed that sleeping more can help you net fewer calories per day, compared with burning calories by staying awake?
So, what’s the magic number? How much sleep do we actually need? Adults between the ages of 26-64 years old need 7-9 hours, according to research.
When we sleep, we recharge our brain, boost our immune system, and repair our endocrine system. Catching some Zs has so many positive effects (and negative ones when we skimp on quality time with our pillows), it’s clear that sleep is essential to well-being. So, the next time you hear your inner voice saying, “I have so much to do, I can’t afford to get eight hours of sleep,” ask yourself, “Can I really afford NOT to get the sleep I need?” With the right amount of quality sleep, you’ll see your life and your career RISE and SHINE.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach, Corentus-certified team coach, and the founder of LAErrico & Partners.
This article was first published by All Wellness Guide: https://bit.ly/3gtMvET
LAeRRICO & partners Founder Leigh Ann Errico Accepted into Georgetown’s Program for Health & Wellness Coaching
Leigh Ann Errico has long emphasized wellness in her work with executives and teams. She even studied under a Master Somatic Coach to learn how to harness the powers of Sensation, Breath, Voice, Mood and Center. Additionally, a focus of her recent training to become a Corentus-certified team coach was the importance of being “fit to coach” with one’s own mindfulness and wellness practices. This summer, she begins a new journey – the Health & Wellness Coaching certification program at Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership!
Through the program, Leigh Ann will expand her expertise in wellness-oriented coaching, the psychology of behavior change in a health context, and the fundamentals of chronic disease in order to become a certified health & wellness coach. She’ll apply what she learns to holistically address the mind, body, and spirit of her valued clients, caring for the whole person as not only a leader but as a human being. The timing could not be more appropriate, as the essentiality of health and self-care have been underscored by the pandemic, including the need to care for our immune systems.
“Time and again, I’ve seen first-hand the importance of balance and discipline during my engagements with leaders at all levels,” Leigh Ann shared. “If you neglect all the things you need as a human in order to feel good, your career eventually suffers, as well. Wellness is a never-ending pursuit that enhances every aspect of life.”
Leigh Ann added, “For me, I know all too well how easily we can become victims of our success in the work world. The higher I rose in my corporate career and the more complex my life demands became, the less healthy I became over time. I put myself last and hyper-focused on my career and work objectives. This sacrifice came at a very high price to my health and happiness. Over the past few years, I have been teaching myself how to live a healthier and more reasonable life – for the sake of my health and those whom I love and support.”
Leigh Ann and the firm she founded and leads will use her deeper knowledge to provide comprehensive client support that inspires personal growth, elevates career performance, and unlocks new progress.
The Institute for Transformational Leadership's Certificate in Health & Wellness Coaching is an Approved Health and Wellness Coach Training & Education Program by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC).
The Truth About Cortisol
June 2, 2020 • 4 min read
Written by Leigh Ann Errico
We’ve all heard the term cortisol, but how does it really fit into the puzzle that is our health and immune system? Did you know, for example, that cortisol can help you solve challenges and achieve goals, from mastering tai chi to earning a new career certification?
What is Cortisol and Why Do We Need It?Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” (hence the sometimes negative connotation), but it’s crucial for the protection of overall health and well-being. This hormone is made by three glands in your body: the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenal glands.
Cortisol is famous for being associated with the fight-or-flight response. If you were to encounter a bear on a weekend hike, cortisol would work to depress non-essential or even harmful functions during the threatening situation.
Almost every cell in the human body has a cortisol receptor. According to the Endocrine Society, cortisol can help :
The Problem with CortisolCortisol, like all hormones, needs to be in a balanced state in our bodies. Too much cortisol, often caused by too much stress for prolonged periods of time, can lead to a number of chronic health problems. High levels of cortisol are linked to:
MeditateImplementing a daily form of meditation, sometimes called breath work, can significantly help to reduce cortisol levels. The exercise does not have to take long or be complicated. Box breathing, a tool often used by Navy Seals to stay calm in high-pressure situations, can be done quickly and discreetly, for instance. Try this:
Find a RitualRituals are also a nice way to aid in the reduction of stress and, therefore, cortisol levels. They have the power to trigger the brain to start relaxing and winding down from being fully engaged. A few to try:
Take Time to Take ControlCortisol isn’t just a villain. It helps us to be productive and make important decisions under pressure ― both essential for career success. But, in this case, “too much of a good thing” can wreak havoc on your health and on progress toward your goals. Take control of your cortisol levels right now ― it’s a breathwork exercise away.
This article was first published by Health Journal:
By Leigh Ann Errico, Executive and Team Coach at LAeRRICO & partners
Life as we knew it is morphing. Many of us are now forging new life and career paths for ourselves, whether by choice or necessity. During the pandemic, it’s mission-critical to stay disciplined about habits that will support our immune systems, especially if we decide to venture out to support local businesses, for example. Here are five tips to help protect your health post-quarantine:
1: Soak Up the Sun: Sunlight is essential to staying healthy. Catching some rays (without sun block) for just 30 minutes a day can have a powerful effect on your immune system. Sunlight helps your body make vitamin D, which is key to a strong immune system. Being exposed to sunlight also increases your body’s nitric oxide production in the blood, according to research. Not only does this improve blood flow, but it helps prevent the replication of viruses and bacteria in the body. It’s also encouraging to note that ultraviolet radiation from the sun helps to inactivate many viruses.
2: Take Zinc Daily: Zinc affects the immune system in myriad ways. According to studies, zinc is essential for the development and function of cells mediating your innate immunity. These cells are responsible for identifying viruses before they get a foothold in your body. Zinc has also been shown to help prevent autoimmune responses, such as in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.
3: Don’t Forget the Vitamin D Supplements: Vitamin D is not just for your bones; almost every cell in the body uses vitamin D in some way, according to the National Institute of Health. Did you know that vitamin D is not even a vitamin at all? It’s actually a hormone. According to research published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, vitamin D is needed for the formation of healthy immune cells. It is also vital for keeping the immune system from attacking healthy body tissue. And vitamin D deficiency is linked to higher viral infection rates and auto-immune disease…so reduce your risks by harnessing its magic!
4: Break a Sweat: According to Richard J. Simpson, Ph.D., exercise helps circulate immune cells around the body much more effectively, which allows the cells to identify and stop an infection before it has a chance to take hold. That being said, over-exercise can actually weaken the immune system and increase your risk of infection. Strike the right balance with daily, moderate physical activity.
5: Reduce Stress: Chronic stress can have a very negative effect on our immune systems. According to the Cleveland Clinic, stress can reduce the number of white blood cells and increase the inflammation in your body. A lower white blood cell count raises your body’s risk of infection, chronic inflammation, and auto-immune disease. Spending time in meditation, consistently catching some good quality Zs, and making time for activities that bring you joy will certainly help with the reduction of stress. And here’s a secret: singing is a significant stress reliever. According to a study by the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, large parts of our brain “light up” with activity when we sing. So, wind up your vocal cords to wind down!
Pandemic or no pandemic, developing good health habits is crucial for a strong mind and body that’s able to work for you, toward achieving both your life and career goals. Power UP.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach, ICF-certified executive coach, Corentus-certified team coach and the founder of LAErrico & Partners.
Article originally published on All Wellness Guide: https://bit.ly/2yADMQD
Leigh Ann Errico