'Tis The Season
Christmas has come and gone, and now all those things I put on hold while I was bustling about are all knocking on my conscience again. You know, the bills, the chores, the emails, and the finances that I had put aside are all re-emerging on the other side of “later.”
The problem is, my agenda of holiday catch-ups and coffee dates are far from over, not to mention the handful of family dinners, celebrations, hellos, and goodbyes that all collide in this busy time of coming and going. So it’s not as though I have this beautifully clear schedule where I can simply take a deep breath, reset, and calmly work my way down the list until everything is dutifully addressed. Indeed, I think I’m past the point of pretending that such an open stretch of time exists in life.
So how do I get it all done? How do I strike the balance between quality time and productivity? How do I get all the necessary items done without burning out? While it is sometimes hard to follow our own advice, here are a few obvious tricks of the trade that could prevent you from banging your party hat against the wall over the holidays:
1) Say “no.” Of course there are some occasions that can’t be backed out of. The goodbye party for the person who is leaving for 6 months, the big gift opening . . . some things happen but once a year. But does your boyfriend’s aunt really care if you aren’t there for New Year’s Eve? When in doubt, bow out. Trust me, it’ll save you the trouble of trying to regain your mental and physical health later.
2) Call it an early night. On the can’t miss occasions, don’t wear yourself out. There are a plethora of excuses that a busy host won’t mind hearing as you slip out the door, and for the bold and brave, just be honest and say you’ve gotta call it an early night. Empathetic people will understand, and those who don’t . . . well, there are 364 other days in the year to meet up, this isn’t your last chance.
3) Rain check. Or snow check, or whatever. The point is, rescheduling for mid-January might not be such a bad idea for everyone involved. The only caveat with this piece of advice is not to pawn everything off on your future self. Then you're basically teleporting your stress to a couple weeks in your future.
4) Exercise. It may seem counter-intuitive when your schedule is packed and you’re feeling exhausted, but taking the time to exercise may just clear your head and make you feel good in the long run. That initial push off the couch can feel impossible - trust me, there are times I could swear the couch was made of sticky toffee - but it’s well worth the effort.
5) Meditate. No, I'm not talking about an hour-long refuge, where you light incense and sit on a cushy pillow and have a peaceful bell chime in at the end. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I mean, a bathroom break. A cup of tea. Closing your eyes while you take a bite into your meal. I know the holidays are nuts, but building these tiny stolen moments into the chaos can be a game-changer.
6) Take the long way. On the note of clearing space for yourself, don't be in such a rush to get everywhere. Every engagement will insist that it is the most important thing vying for your attention, but the truth is... the world will not stop spinning if you show up a few minutes late. So take a detour. Finish that cup of coffee. Take an extra lap around the block. Do whatever you have to do to buy yourself a bit of “me” time.
Finally, remember that the holidays are, ultimately, supposed to be a time of gratitude and joy. So while the bustling around and the endless lists and scheduling may feel daunting, try to reconnect with the reasons that each of those events are in your calendar. YOU are the curator of your own life, and if you pencilled something in, chances are it’s because it’s tied to someone who means a lot to you. So for every immovable event and hectic holiday hangout, remind yourself of the love crammed into each of them, and the people who make it all worth your while. Happy holidays.