Holiday Challenge Week 8: Give the Gift of Presence

Welcome to week eight of the nine-week holiday challenge. Are you still with us? We’ve been building small and sustainable habits over the last seven weeks. These habits are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Once you master the small stuff, you’ll be ready to tackle your bigger goals for the new year.

A mistake that a lot of people make, including myself, is that we want to jump all in 100% on our goals. It’s great to be committed and ready to do all the work, but often when we attempt to make too many drastic changes at once, we get overwhelmed, burnt out, or discouraged, and end up crawling back to the comfort of our old bad habits. We’re human; We're wired this way.

I’m certainly not suggesting we shouldn’t go after big dreams that require a lot of work of dedication, just that we’re more likely to be successful in the big endeavors when we've mastered the small habits first. When we’re getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating healthful foods and moving our bodies, we’re better suited to chase our big dreams. We can’t skip the small stuff and expect to thrive.

A better, more sustainable approach to is to take it one step at a time. Prove to yourself you can master the small healthy habits. Earn some wins, then build upon them. Dream big, but start small.

Give the gift of presence. save to your favorite Pinterest board for later.

Give the gift of presence. save to your favorite Pinterest board for later.


Remember when you had to sit in a waiting room and read a magazine, or stand in line at the bank and just…wait. (Or you had to stand in line at a bank at all?) Do you remember life before smartphones, Facebook, and Instagram? Was life easier then or now? I’m not sure. Of course, technology has improved our access to information, but it’s also a distraction that has been slowly taking over our collective lives.

I love social media. I have met many real friends online. My business depends on social media. But we’ve all been there, we jump online for “just a minute,” and then an hour and a half later we’ve fallen deep in a You-Tube hole watching hilarious cat videos.

The scrolling. The refreshing. The toggling between multiple social media channels for updates. I researched (aka Googled) how many times a day people look at their phone a day, and according to the New York Post, Americans look at their phones an average of 80 times per day. Yikes.

Maybe, like me, you use social media as a way to wind down at the end of a long day. Perhaps you have trouble sleeping, and you scroll your feeds until you feel sleepy enough to go to bed. Or maybe you read your favorite blogs in your spare time (like this one)!

My phone has a feature that tells me how many hours per day I am on my phone, and let’s just say if you ever hear me say I don’t have time for something, you have my permission to slap me. It’s eye-opening.

This time of the year, this week especially, a lot of people are spending time with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. It doesn’t matter what you believe or what you celebrate; this is the time of year to give the gift of presence.

Are we scrolling our Instagram feeds instead of connecting with the people in front of us? Are we more concerned about taking pictures to share with strangers on the internet than we are about being present with our loved ones? I know I am as guilty as any.

Our challenge this week is to be more present in our daily activities instead of passively scrolling our social media channels.

It Starts With Awareness

The first step is awareness. How much time are you spending on social media a day? How much of that time is productive? Keep track. The results can be eye-opening. Social media can be an excellent tool to connect with people, conduct business, keep up with the news, and learn about new topics. Develop the awareness to determine when you’ve crossed over from productive to destructive (of your goals).

Set Up Your Environment For Success

With any habit you want to change, you can set your environment up for success. It’s the same principle as this: If you don’t want to eat cookies, then don’t buy cookies to tempt you from the kitchen counter.

At home try leaving your phone plugged into the charger away from any comfortable furniture. Only look at it while it’s plugged in. You can stand in the corner leashed to your phone on the charger if you choose, but you might be more comfortable on the couch with a book.

Try making it a little harder to get online. Keep your phone off if you can. Remove your social media apps, so you have to type in the web address to get there. Put your phone in a drawer. Lock that drawer. If you make it a slightly less convenient to use your phone, you may use it less.

Set Boundaries

Decide how much time you want to spend on social media and stick to it. Check for updates two or three times a day. Set boundaries for how much time you will spend catching up with friends or doing work on social media if it’s part of your business.

Replace Bad Habits with Good Ones

Just like with any habit (good or bad), small actions add up to significant changes. It’s a minute here, and three minutes there on social media, then before you know it, you had spent 10 hours on social media last week. What more productive activity could you do in those in-between minutes you usually spend looking at your phone? Could you carry a book in a tote bag? How about a notebook to jot down thoughts, ideas or gratitude?

What To Do Instead of Reaching For Your Smartphone

Write poems,
or song lyrics,
do breathing exercises,
pray or meditate,
do bodyweight exercises,
foam roll,
call a friend,
write a letter,
send a card,
write a love note,
write your goals,
read a magazine,
take a nap,
start a blog,
make a wish list,
give someone a compliment,
write a story,
write a business plan,
play a game,
sing a song,
make someone else laugh,
plan ahead,
reflect on yesterday

There are so many small actions that would improve our lives if we repeated them as often as we pick up our phones. Can you think of any I didn’t name?

Make a Plan

I have a stack of books on my desk collecting dust. I’m going to put my phone away in the evening and commit to reading instead of scrolling. I’m going to try to be more aware of my behavior to begin to eliminate my mindless scrolling. When I feel compelled to look at my phone, I’ll take a deep breath first and think of something I’m thankful for (imagine if we did that 80 times a day!) Are you with me?

It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. I’m not suggesting you should smash your phone with a hammer or go back in time to a flip phone (like my dad). If you’re like me and you spend more time than you’d like on unproductive scrolling, then any improvement over yesterday is a win — one step at a time.

Let me know how it goes this week! Is this one difficult or easy for you?

Next week is our final week of the challenge! Are you ready? Almost there, friends. Thanks for following along. I hope you’ve been building new healthy habits along the way.

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