During this time of the holidays I’ve found that more people are stressed out, depressed, lonely, tired, worn out, burned out, and the complete opposite of what the “world” tells us this time of year is about. Where’s all the joy, happiness, camaraderie, and fun?

Well, it’s hard to have all that when you are stressed, worn, and burned out.

Sometimes I get so bogged down, heads down, heart down, that I forget why I do what I do, whom I do it for and with, and the impact I’m having on others. It’s easy to stay down once you lay down.

How do you strengthen and encourage yourself when you are down?

How do you get up?

I was reminded of an idea based upon a friends post about thank you cards.

Drew, my partner, mentioned adding something to his “inspirational moments” file.

Of course, I asked, “What’s that?”

“It’s the file I put all the positive, thankful, and impact emails, notes, letters, and personal comments people send me. I started the file 25 years ago as a collection point for capturing and maintaining those moments for future reflection.”

Wow. I wish I had one of those. Then … I thought … I can! Right? And so can you.

How to start your Inspirational Moments file:

  1. Find a physical file folder

Yes, you could make it all digital, but there is something to this file being tangible. You can feel the emotion versus seeing it on a screen. It makes it real and more valuable. Plus, do you really want to scan those notes and cards?

  1. Take an inventory

Physical: I was surprised to find that I had random inspirational and affirming notes stashed around my office and house. It was a blast to find and read notes from people I hadn’t thought about or seen in years and relive good memories from some still close friends.

Mental: There are events and people that you are thinking of but don’t have a physical note or memento to help you relive it. Write these down and then write a line or two about the impact, what you felt, how they felt. Keep it simple.

  1. Remind yourself

Fill the file: I put a quarterly reminder on my calendar to do a quick inventory and see if I need to add anything to the file. It took a couple of times or reminding to where I don’t need the reminder anymore. I just put the card or print the email and stick it in the file for later.

Inspire day: When will you read through the file? Will it be annual during your personal strategic planning time? I also think it’s perfect for any time you feel lost or down or are questioning where you are and where you are going.

  1. Do it for others

This idea works the other way as well. Who has strengthened and encouraged you this year? Who needs to hear how your were inspired by them? This part is what really gave back to me; encouraging others filled me up as much or more as being encouraged. If you are a leader, this is critical.

Who do you need to encourage, strengthen, reach out to, reset with, call, visit, forgive, engage, inspire?