Ah, the winter holiday season. A time for madness, traffic jams near malls, last-minute chaotic dashes to buy presents, the overwhelming feeling that you need to see everyone, and on, and on—not to mention the actual necessity of continuing to live your life, work, support your family, even attend school!
You could drown in wrapping paper and tinsel while trying to save your sanity this holiday season, so here are some tips for finding your peace:
- Have a calendar listing out all the scheduled events. Invitations will fill up your mailbox in December. Keep a calendar in your kitchen and write down everything you've been invited to. Circle items you will attend and cross off items you won't attend. Even if you decline an invite, it's good to mark it on your calendar so you're aware of it. You can also use the calendar to block off days. Take a look at your calendar now and decide on "You Days." Put a huge "X" through the days where you're deciding not to have any plans – and keep it that way. These can also be the days when you get your schoolwork done. You won't be of any use to anyone if you are completely drained at all of your holiday get-togethers. Make time for yourself and those in your household.
- Dedicate 5-10 minutes to yourself every morning. The morning is a crucial time. If the morning starts off poorly, the entire day is off to a rocky start. If your morning is great, that positive mood can help carry you through the day. So stack the cards in your favor. Lock yourself in a room alone for 5-10 minutes when you wake up. Let your mind ease into the day. Take a moment to reflect on all for which you are thankful: Thankful that you have friends and family who invite you to gatherings. Thankful that you have the means to buy others gifts. Thankful that you have a roof over your head. All small things, but all very important things in the grand scheme of life. Take a moment to acknowledge your blessings in the morning, and that will help you later on in the day if you hit a rough patch.
- Make time for exercise. It doesn't have to be rigorous or sweat-inducing. Whether you exercise regularly or not, it is crucial to do some form of activity throughout the season. Exercise gives you endorphins, which give you that fuzzy "Yay, me!" feeling. In the busy holiday season where people are eager to suck up your time, you can't have enough happy feelings. So go for walks, stretch for 15 minutes, hike up stairs instead of catching the elevator or take up kickboxing to release any pent-up aggression. Exercise helps. Give it a try; I bet you'll enjoy how you feel.
- Dedicate one full day to your "to-do" list. There is always WAY too much to get done during the holidays. You have to buy and wrap presents, cook for parties, host friends or family in your home, work and support your family, pursue your degree – all with a smile while beating the winter doldrums. So take a look at the calendar you put in your kitchen, examine those days that you marked as "You Days" and dedicate one to powering through your list of things to do. Be Wonder Woman. Be Superman. Just for 24 hours, that is. Future You will thank you for it. While that one day may be quite brutal, it will allow you more time to enjoy the holidays without "to-do" items hovering around your thoughts.
- Be on the lookout for isolation spots. If you're an introvert, you may look toward the holiday season with dread, wondering, "How in the world am I going to find time alone?" The solution: Make time. If you host a party in your home, take 3-5 minutes each hour to go into an empty room and just be alone. If you're at someone else's party, say you forgot something in your car and take a few minutes for yourself. While a few minutes may not seem like a lot, they can do wonders for your momentum when you reinsert yourself back into social situations.
The holiday season truly is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. However, if you don't put yourself first this December, it could blow right past you, and you'll start off January wondering, "What just happened? I need a nap."
Get more tips on balancing work, family, school and life on our College Life blog.