I have been basking in the warm sun on this chilly morning, teacup in hand, looking back over my holiday time spent with friends and family. We really dove into some downtime here.

Unlike I’ve done on some breaks, I stopped work and handed myself over to time with family 24/7–and we all had twice the amount of laughter and lightness to show for it! (I know it’s been a great holiday when, instead of waiting for things to “get back to normal,” I find that I’m drinking in dozens of happy memories as I drink my tea.)

I talk and write a lot about the need for small breaks and pauses throughout the day or week, but maybe not enough about truly stopping. While mini respites do help us restore and manage stress, when we truly stop we open ourselves up to deeper levels of rejuvenation.

If your holiday time was more labor than leisure, it’s not too late to use a new year as an excuse to start stopping…

  • If you want to stop eating junk food, pick up some healthier fare the next time you’re at the store.
  • Are you tired of too many projects sitting around? Stop TV time for a few days and create a little time to catch up.
  • If you want to stop self-neglect, book some regular nurturing time when you fill in the pages of your new planner.
  • If you crave more time with your children or friends, write that down, too! We typically write down the things that are most important. Shouldn’t you and the people you love be included?

Most people do best trying one stop at a time. And remember: changes only seem daunting until we take action!

I invite everyone reading this to add more laughter and lightness to your days by practicing the fine art of stopping. And feel free to share the first thing you chose to stop with the rest of us.