The bad news is, I was right.
Every year I try to convince myself that this is okay, that I have a flexible schedule and I should embrace that. I should just focus on my holiday prep and work on shorter writing projects if I have the time.
But I always get stuck in a weird tug-of-war with myself about whether it’s too soon to switch over to holiday mode, which means I end up feeling rushed when I’m finally ready. I honestly don’t know how to solve that one—I don’t want to spend all year getting ready for December, but December itself just doesn’t seem to have enough weeks.
So I end up not getting much work done AND stressing about the holidays. Not a great combo.
Here are a couple things that have worked for me this year, though. Without these strategies I would be feeling even more frazzled than I am right now!
- Technology fasts. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how the internet is affecting our brains, and this article sums things up pretty nicely. Basically, all the back-and-forth drains our energy and gets us addicted to seeing something new all. the. time. The author’s solution: read more. Practice focusing deeply on something. So, most evenings I’ve been trying to turn off my devices early and settle down with a book instead. Between the holiday stress and all the upsetting things in the news lately, I think it’s been extra important for me to have a good long stretch of time offline.
- Ditching the cards. I am so conflicted about this, but we are not sending Christmas cards this year. I love getting cards, and I love the tradition of sending holiday greetings, but this year the task was hanging over me and I decided to put it aside. The world hasn’t stopped turning yet, so maybe it’s okay? I also told myself it’s just for this year—next year I’ll re-evaluate and send some if I really want to.
- Reminding myself what I’m looking forward to instead of focusing on the “have to’s”. Lately I’ve been trying to make a mental list of the good parts of each day, and this is kind of the same thing in reverse: thinking ahead to what’s fun instead of stressing about what’s not. On the list: making a gingerbread house with Doodlebug, going to see Star Wars Episode VII with my brother, and the new Sherlock that’s coming out January 1st. And (fingers crossed!) some good books for Christmas.
I hope the end of the year brings you some quiet time to reflect and to look ahead to 2016!