Holiday spirit through the entire year? YES!


HolidayI am a big fan of holidays and I am sure I am not the only one. I feel so relaxed while on holiday and I find myself noticing more of my surroundings, feeling more present and connected to my thoughts. However, when I return back to the “real world” it is always difficult to adjust. I started to think about how I could feel those same “holiday feelings” even when I am back in day-to-day life. Here are some tricks and tips that I developed through the years to make my holidays last longer and feel the holiday spirit back at home as well!

Scent and Smell


Science says that smell is the most powerful tool to evoke memories and emotions. Cool! During your holiday time, use a specific shower gel or perfume. Make sure it is a scent that you enjoy and one that is special. When return home from your holiday and you may be missing those relaxing vacation days, just open the bottle and take a deep breath. It will light you up I am sure!

How I do it: For so many years now, I have used the same shower gel when I go on a beach vacation. By now I have a very strong connection between that fragrance and the holiday feeling. When I feel down, like in the winter when summer is still far away, I just take a shower with that specific shower gel. It is a simple trick that can bring some sunshine and warmth to your day. It works 😉 Just make sure you keep that fragrance special. If you use it every day, it will overwrite the connection in the brain.


Every summer has hot hits. You know those songs that we hear and play on repeat? Try creating a playlist to listen to while driving, travelling, readingmobile-616012_960_720 or relaxing during your vacation. Not a fan of pop music? Then create any type of music playlist specifically for the holiday time. It works the same way as with the scent and smell. Music will help your brain memorize and preserve the special holiday moments and more importantly capture the mood and spirit. Feel free to use the same playlist every holiday or create new ones.

How I do it: I like pop music, so it’s easy for me. Sometimes I don’t prepare any playlist. I just listen to the radio a lot during my holidays and there are few songs that they play more so it sticks to my brain. When I make a playlist I add the hits to my list. By now, I have a lot of playlists or songs that are connected with holidays, different playlist different holiday. When I want to go back to a specific holiday I just start to listen to that playlist.  For example, when I was on holidays with my boyfriend for the first time, we listened hit songs in the car, a lot! Now I just pick that playlist over a romantic dinner at home and we are travelling back in time! Its perfect for bringing hot days back to winter times and bringing romance back into your relationship! I also love when it is winter time and I drive in my car and they play one of these songs on the radio. It makes my day! 

Photos and Videos 

memory-2213634_960_720You would think this one might be obvious. Well, maybe… We take photos all the time without thinking, especially now that most of our SmartPhones are equipped with cameras. Yet imagine you have an old camera with film in it. It means you have 32 pictures; 32 moments to catch. So, now it puts things into a different light. I suggest to use this 32 photo concept to preserve the moments and not the surrounding. What I am talking about? For example, think of a time you had an amazing time with your friends, laughing until it hurts. Well, that’s the moment to take a photo! Back at home make an album of the photos. You can even write the memory on the back of the pictures. Invite the people with who you were on holidays and look at those photos together. Don’t share on social media! It’s only for you. Old-school is back (If you would have shared on social media, it wouldn’t be that fun to watch those pictures because everyone would have seen them already)!

How I do it: I choose the photos that make me smile. I make an album, and invite my travel companions to my house to watch them over some holiday food and drink while we listen to the playlist.

Food and Drink

There are tyfood-1050813_960_720pical dishes in every country and as tourists we are obliged to try them 🙂 Special tastes and spices can create a connection in the brain the same way as smell and music. Of course there are also typical summer drinks. Pick your favourite one and consume it through your vacation time or even during the entire summer. After the holiday season when not much is going on prepare that specific dish or drink and enjoy!

How I do it: I cook a special dish I had over my vacation or make a special cocktail if I feel in need some holiday spirit.



Summer holidays are perfect for reading books. Longer days mean more light and reading is the best activity while lying in the sun on the beach. Reading helps us to grow our knowledge,  open our mind, enrich our wisdom, change our mindset. Better yet, reading can be really entertaining. Let your mind and imagination explore a great story, new ideas, thoughts and feelings. Learn a new personal development tool, start a new way of thinking and let yourself realize something about your own self.  Choose a book that has a message to you or one that offers great entertainment. The key is to read that book which shakes you a bit (of course in a good way).  This book will give that extra to your holiday and later the book can act like a souvenir on your bookshelf. 


How I do it: As you might expect, my main interest is psychology. I buy lot of books through the year but I don’t have the time, mood, energy to read all of them. So I read them through my holidays and with that I give a real content and meaning to the simpliest days even. I expand my wisdom and awareness 🙂



Stress and Self-Care {Part II}


In {Part I} of this blog you learned about what stress is, how to recognize it, and how to cope with stressful situations. Here, in {Part II}, we will focus on how we should think about stress and self-care.

stress ball

We actually need stress

We think about stress as the bad guy or the enemy and we want to eliminate it from our lives for good. Well, getting rid of stress completely would not be the best solution. Why? Because we need stress. Moderate amounts stress can actually be helpful in willing strength and focus. Science even says that stress can make you healthier!

According to psychologicst, Kelly McGonigal, what matters is how we think about stress. McGonigal says that if we can’t change stress from external factors, we need to change it internally, within ourselves. We can do this by changing our view and approach about stress. Think that STRESS = CHALLENGE, and then be better than stress! This paradigm shift could literally be life saving!

The research findings behind her conclusion and even more surprising upsides of stress:

  • Stress may actually be correlated with longevity if it is not viewed negatively. 
  • A possible cure to negative effects of stress is giving to others.
  • Moderate stress can lead to cell growth in the brain’s learning centers.
  • Stress can call for helper hormones to vulnerable areas.
  • Stress can activate both good and bad habits.
  • A stress-is-enhancing mindset may have lasting effects.

Extra cool info from the McGonigal’s TED talk: Did you know that Oxytocin is a stress hormone? And what it does to your heart? Watch the video and find out more!


It is not easy to set our mid to think positive about stress. While we are busy with switching our mindset, stress can still have a negative effect on us. We might lose energy and motivation as a result. How can we overcome these moments?

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is a choice to engage in activities that helps to gain or maintain optimal level of overall health. It includes physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual components of an individual’s well-being. 

Why take care of yourself? There is a great illustration by James Clear, called Your Bucket of Health and Energy  It looks like this: Imagine that your health and energy are a bucket of water and there are things that fill your bucket up (sleep, laughter, joy, meditation, your hobby, etc.) and there are other things that drain your bucket (lifting weights, stress, problems, anxiety, etc.).


The goal is to keep the bucket at an optimal level. In order to do that we need to refill our bucket on a regular basis (eating well, having fun, sleeping and in general making time for recovery). If you let your bucket get too empty, your body will force you to rest through illness and injury. Recovery is not negotiable! Take care of yourself starting today!


Self-care is not a to-do list. It’s not a list of things you need to check off every day. Self-care is more about paying attention and listening to ourselves. 

Here are some specific questions for practicing self-care by Margarita Tartakovsky:

By answering these questions you start to focus on yourself. It will help you to make a decision that actually comfort you. Keep in mind there are no good or bad answers! And try to be honest with yourself.

Ask Yourself

  • How do I want to feel today?
  • How can my loved ones best support me right now or through a challenging situation that’s coming up?
  • How can I celebrate myself today?
  • What’s the most respectful choice for me?
  • What do I need?
  • What honors my body?What feels good to me?
  • What feels freeing or blissful or abundant?
  • What is a small self-compassionate step I can take?
  • What feels less overwhelming in the chaos of today or tomorrow?
  • What am I really feeling today?
  • What soothes my soul?
  • What am I truly hungry for? What will nourish that hunger?
  • What might serve as a salve for my current struggles?

Difficult to find your answers? Let me help you!

Need inspiration for self-care activities? Here are 101 suggestions for self-care and a great self-care toolbox.

Feel free to share your answers, comments and ideas in the IPSN Community Facebook Page! Let’s inspire each other!


Need guidance to find out your stress management technique? Or to practice self-care? Let me know! 


Erika Szilagyi is from Hungary. She moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago. She is a Psychologist & Life Coach. She helps people make their life a great one. Send her an e-mail!


Stress and Self-Care {Part I} 


We are surrounded by stress all the time. Many of us learned to live with it, but others struggle with managing stress. In order to maintain a happy and balanced life we need to cope and manage stress.


There are many great articles, videos and tips online, here I collected some that I find great.

How do you know when you are stressed?

Can you describe what you feel? A typical example that everyone can relate to is when we are in a hurry and we stand in a long grocery store line. We might even feel like screaming but we don’t do that of course. Or maybe it happens after the grocery store, at home when our partner or child repeats a question and we become inpatient or angry. It is not our partner or child whom made us feel this way, rather it was just an opportunity to let out some steam that built up in the grocery store.

In these situations our body gives a stress response (flight or fight). As a preparation for the stressful situation we mobilize our energy. And here comes the trick. Back in time we released this energy while hunting, but now we just drive back home and make a dinner which does not help us to let the bad energy out. We can see this mobilized energy erupting in a destructive way (see example: anger). It is important to recognize and understand the real stress. Knowing about it gives us a power to control it and to use it in a more constructive way (e.g. sport).

Keep in mind that stress is both universal and very personal at the same time. What stresses you out is different from what stresses your friend out.

The N.U.T.S. ingredients of stress are universal 

For a situation to be stressful it must contain one or more of following elements:

NOVELTY Something new you have not experienced before

UNPREDICTABILITY Something you had no way of knowing it would happen

THREAT TO THE EGO Your competence as a person is called into question

SENSE OF CONTROL You feel no or little control over the situation

So,the million dollar question:

How do we cope with stress?

We either eliminate stress from our life, or we learn to live with it. Unfortunately the first option is impossible so we have to stick with the second one.



A situation is stressful if you find it stressful. You have a right to feel N.U.T.S.. As mentioned above, stress is very individual and personal. Everyone deals with stress in their own way. Some become aggressive, others withdraw and others thrive on stress. This variable response is a reason why there is no universal stress-management technique!

What is coping?

Coping are the thoughts and actions we use to deal with stressful situation. There are two different coping strategies; Problem-focused and Emotion-focused.

  1. Problem-focused:  We focus on the problem and we use active ways to solve it.
  2. Emotion-focused: To handle the distress, we focus on the feelings.

Keep in mind that both strategies of coping with stress are equally good. If you want to go a step further, it becomes important to develop different strategies to adapt to different situations.

Now that we understand stress and we are able to recognize it and we also know about different coping strategies for managing stress, we just need to find the strategy that works the best for us. Then… we need to apply it daily! When we manage stress appropriately, we are practicing self-care. We choose to act in a constructive way which helps us to take care of ourselves.


In the second part of this blog series on Stress and Self-Care, I will describe how stress can be our friend and I will give you some tips for practicing self-care.

Need guidance to find out your stress management technique? Or to practice self-care? Let me know!


Erika Szilagyi is from Hungary. She moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago. She is a Psychologist & Life Coach. She helps people make their life a great one. Send her an e-mail!

More strategies and examples in the links below:

Find Your Own Motivational Style

Written by Erika Szilagyi, IPSN Community Member and Life Coach at Live Smart Coaching
All of us have dreams, ideas, goals, plans. But not all of us manage to achieve them.



Because we tend to lose focus, become less motivated or lazy, and when it is not happening quickly enough we lose interest, motivation and the power to go any further. Or maybe its that we don’t even know where to start!


Simple. We have to stay focused, motivated and persistent.


We have to find our own motivational strategy! The secret is self-motivation. When you learn to motivate your own self and not looking for external factors, it gives you the ability to be tough and focused, and it also gives you the stamina that is needed on the way towards your goals.

Keep in mind: Don’t be too strict on yourself. Don’t become narrow minded in thinking only about your goal. The key is the balance between being strict and allowing yourself to be ‘bad’ (act out of the control). For example, with diet it can be an 80/20 rule. For 80% you eat good and for 20% you allow yourself to eat the junk food.

Obstacles on the way: We are humans. Allow yourself some failures, breaks (which means you didn’t give up!), up’s and down’s.  Be patient, your goal can be a long term one or it may take longer than you expected to get there. But when you learn to motivate yourself and you apply your own style, you will see these obstacle as mere challenges.

It is also important to have some fun in the meantime, because as they say: “It is not the destination, but the journey that counts.” Well, in this case its both the destination and the journey! Reaching a goal is an AMAZING feeling and it will boost your self-esteem, which will keep you going as well! Try to look at it as a real journey, which will bring you new experiences, wisdom, insights and strength.


Here are some specific tips how to become your own motivational buddy and make yourself to DO it further:

1. Before you start any action, take a moment. A quiet and peaceful moment. Think deep about yourself, about what is that you really want (try to be as specific as you can) and why you want it. When you have it (achieved) what it will give to you (feelings, opportunities, freedom, knowledge, etc.). How do you know when you achieved it? And how will you celebrate it? Would be great if you could write down all your answers.

2. Still before the action, please think again deeply. Imagine that you are on the way to achieve your goal. You did great, and you see yourself achieving your goal soon but somehow you loose some power (You can imagine that you are running and before the finish line you feel you need to stop for a moment). What would you say to yourself to cheer you up, to boost your energy and reach that goal? Write down these words, sentences because these words will be your own cheering words. It comes from you so it will speak to you when you need it the most.

3. You have the goal, you got the power and ready to start. But how? Making action plan can help. It gives you two useful things. One, you break down the BIG goal into smaller ones, so it is more digestible. No one climbed the Mount Everest with one HUGE step. Two, it will give you smaller goals that are fun to reach on the way and opportunities to celebrate them 🙂 Cool, right? You can add a timeline which will make you work by schedule (so add a date to your smaller and final goals, then it becomes a plan)

4. Keep your journey documented (to yourself or even in a blog to inspire others). It will be great to read it when you want to look back and be proud. It is also an amazing learning tool. You would get so much insight about yourself, your thoughts and struggles and how you did overcome them all. And it can be your motivational manual for the next goal! Yeah! 🙂

5. Share your goal with the ones closest to you. From time to time, your friends and family can “check” on you and support you if and when you need it.

Extra tips: Use Post-it notes (in your apartment, in your wallet, PC, etc.), daily reminders on your phone, small messages with your own cheering words from point 2, apps like daily motivational quotes, desktop on your laptop for inspiration, or even you can make your own mood board.

Science says: Is your goal to make something healthy, or useful as a part of your life? Do you want to develop it as a routine? Do it strictly for 2 weeks, then it becomes your habit!

Want to find out your own motivational style? Try as much as you can and you will know what works for you and on you. Don’t want to do it alone? Get a Life Coach!


Erika Szilagyi is from Hungary. She moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago. She is a Psychologist & Life Coach. She helps people make their life a great one. Send her an e-mail!

Be SMART about Setting Goals

Spring is a great time for a fresh start! The days are brighter and the mood is lighter. The time is ripe for new beginnings. So, let’s be SMART and get started.


S: Set a very specific goal. I will add one fruit serving — that’s half a cup, chopped– to my current daily diet.

M: Find a way to measure progress. I will log my efforts each day on my calendar.

A: Make sure it’s achievable. Be sure you’re physically capable of safely accomplishing your goal. If not, aim for a smaller goal.

R: Make sure it’s realistic. It may seem counterintuitive, but choosing the change you most need to make — let’s say, quitting smoking or losing weight — isn’t as successful as choosing the change you’re most confident you’ll be able to make. Focus on sure bets: If you picture a 10-point scale of confidence in achieving your goal, where 1 equals no confidence and 10 equals 100% certainty, you should land in the 7-to-10 zone. An additional fruit serving a day is a small, manageable step toward better health.

T: Set time commitments. Pick a date and time to start — Wednesday at breakfast, I’ll add frozen blueberries to cereal — and regular check-in dates: I’ll check my log every week and decide if I should make any changes to succeed. When setting commitments, outside deadlines can be really helpful. Signing up for a charity run or sprint triathlon on a certain date prods you to get a training program under way.


Spring into New Goals

Posted by Leah Carlin

Everything seems possible in spring. It’s the season of hope, of fresh life and new beginnings. It has started to feel like Spring this month and with that brings an energy that provides the perfect opportunity to set our intentions, to start the process and achieve the changes we want in our lives.


For the month of March, we are taking advantage of Spring and our goal is to REFRESH & RE-ENERGIZE. We are ready to break old patterns and to start to feel motivated and inspired. We want to set new goals.

What are some things you used to do but don’t do anymore? You might find yourself wishing you made time for it.

What are some things you keep saying you will do, but just haven’t got around to it?

Let’s set some realistic goals together and take care of our well-being by watering our “mental and physical gardens.”


Here are five steps to take advantage of the season and achieve your goals.

1. Look at where you are now

With no judgment, define your reality. Take a snapshot of your life right now. Figure out what is working, what’s not and assess areas like career, personal care, relationships, finances, diet, etc. Break it all down, and be honest with yourself.

2. Look at where you want to be tomorrow

Clearly, honestly and without judgement – define your goals. Include what the end result will look and feel like.

3. Identify the blocks and challenges

If you’re trying to make real changes, you must identify the limiting beliefs that are holding you back. If your goal is to have six-pack abs or a more money saved by June, but you’ve never stepped foot in a gym or have a savings account, take a step back to reevaluate.

4. Take action

Spring is the time to bloom. The new springtime seeds have been planted, but YOU must commit to nurturing, cultivating and watering your goals.

5. Enjoy what you’ve created

Now that you’ve become a good gardener, figuratively, it’s time to enjoy the harvest. Give yourself credit for setting goals. Even if it may take some time to achieve them, you should celebrate the small successes!