With the busy time of year upon us, I thought it was a good time to write about the concept of maintaining center. I know for me personally, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the year drawing to a close, this is always an exceptionally challenging time for me to uphold a sense of calm.

When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back or acknowledged a job you did well? Giving self-praise can be challenging at best, and can even feel egotistical at worst. All human beings have a strong inherent need to be recognized and valued. The truth is, we all need a balance between being able to acknowledge ourselves and needing acknowledgement from others.

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us may find ourselves already feeling a bit over tired, over spent and over socialized. While this time of year may invoke feelings of love and joy, it can also be a time of increased demands and being pulled in many directions.

During the season of giving, don't forget to give to yourself first. No one wants to begin the new year feeling exhausted, burned out and broke. With the feeling of one more party to attend, one more gift to buy, or one more dish to make, sticking to your boundaries can be a real challenge.

In keeping with the theme of self-awareness, I would like to share an activity called Personal Good. I learned this activity from a Communities in Schools Chicago social/emotional training with local expert Caryn Curry. I appreciate this activity for it provides space to reflect on our bigger picture, things which may get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It sheds light on many aspects of our personalities.

If I asked you to take a look at your to-do list, how many of you would have self-care, or "take time for me" on that list? If you do, congratulations! Most often, I find there are three scenarios that exist around scheduling time for self-care:

Often when I talk to adults about self-care the conversation leads to changes people want to make in their life. These changes may be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. This seems natural as taking the time to recognize where we do and don't take care of ourselves builds self-awareness and from awareness blossoms evolution (a.k.a. change).

Many have probably read a quote or two about change being one of the only things we can count on in life. We also know that change can be difficult. People often ask where do I start, how do I get motivated?

How many of you have kept a journal at some point in your life? A journal can take many forms including a diary, a gratitude journal, daily affirmations, or simply a space to work through life challenges or celebrate success. Committing to writing in a journal on a regular basis can be a great way to practice self-care as journaling encourages self-awareness, mindfulness, self-confidence, and healing.

Exactly how you might ask? Let's break each of these self-care benefits down:

Boundaries are a vital aspect of self-care. Establishing boundaries can help one manage stress, accomplish goals, get enough sleep, and enjoy a healthy personal and professional life. For some of us, setting and maintaining boundaries is much easier said than done!

I hope you have had the opportunity since last post to reflect on how and when you may or may not be self-compassionate. Studies show 80 percent of us treat others with more compassion and kindness than we offer to ourselves. When our friends have a bad day or are struggling, we jump in to support them in any way we can; when it's our own self who is having a bad day, or has failed at something, we generally beat ourselves up with self-judgment and self-criticism.

Happy 2017! This is the time of year when many of us make new year's resolutions. While new year's resolutions are a great way to start off the new year feeling our best, research shows that while about 50% of Americans make new year's resolutions, only 8% actually achieve them.

This new year, I invite you to consider creating something different, something which will encourage you to be your best self in 2017 and beyond. Just what exactly am I speaking of you might ask… a personal mission statement!

In the self-care classes I teach, we always take some time to reflect on self-awareness. I share with my students that while it takes a certain amount of self-awareness to practice self-care, the practice itself also builds self-awareness.

First of all, let me say thank you for your patience with me in the gap between blog posts. I took on some extra professional responsibilities this summer, and while I'm proud to say I managed to keep up with my personal practice of self-care; I'm sorry that my self-care blog did indeed get put on the back burner. Needless to say, I thought it was good timing to write about self-compassion.

Back in December when I posted about the four elements of self-care I briefly mentioned stepping outside of your comfort zone as a means of promoting competence. I would like to further explore this idea.

How easy is it for you to say "no" to others? I often hear people who are stressed out or over-committed admit, "I have a hard time saying no". Few would argue that uttering this little, two-letter word is more difficult for some than others. Saying "no" when necessary, is a tool we all need in our self-care toolbox.