The Holidays Are Coming! The Holidays Are Coming! How to Tend to You Before You Fill Your Calendar and Lose Your Balance

Posted on Oct. 16, 2009 at 9:45 a.m.

By: Daniela Abbott

By: Daniela Abbott

Hurry, hurry!  It’s not too late to…
Take a look at your planner and put some R&R in your holiday schedule.

Yes, amidst the turkey roasting and pie baking,  football watching, snow-shoeing, shopping, cookie-cutting, card sending, thank you-ing, manicures, pedicures, cuts and colors, phone calling, decorating, photo-producing…YES!  It’s time to take a look at your planner and decide where to schedule your replenishment, now, before it’s too late.

Planful breaks. That’s what I’m talking about…not  charging through, holding your breath and  hoping for a lull between energy bursts so that you can take a breath and start the madness over again… but scheduling the breaks  BEFORE the bursts, or shortly thereafter…and scheduling more than one.  Being kind to yourself…knowing that you can pull it all off by burning the candle at both ends…but asking yourself first, Do I want to?

If you take a moment now, you may still have the chance of protecting some down time…of finding some days or evenings that have NOTHING scheduled—and keeping them that way.  Take a look at your planner.  Pencil in ALL of your commitments for the rest of this month, including December and January.  Include travel plans, noting the time you’d like to arrive at the airport (not just when the plane is taking off), and when you’ll be getting back home.  Are you picking anyone up/dropping anyone off?  What about work? Any projects building just as we finish the year?  Any new assignments likely to fall on your desk, needing urgent care?  Or the regular ones that come every month, and are a regular stress?  Include parenting responsibilities such as car pools, appointments, caring for sick children, cards for teachers, school events and extracurricular activities.  Parties, gatherings, family traditions…if they take time, pencil them in. 

Hair.  Now that’s an important one.  If you’re due for a cut and color, that’s a 3 hour time commitment right there!   Have you set that up yet?

Are you giving any gifts?  If so, when do you plan to shop?  Wrap?  Exchange or mail out?  (plus buy the “special” stamps…) 

Health and fitness are a part of many people’s weekly routine.  Go ahead and pencil in regular classes or appointments you will attend, including walks you take with friends.  While these are often the “non-negotiables” of daily life,  they can also be the first to go when family or work needs mount—especially if you’re having to exchange exercise for sleep.

Finally, how would you like to spend New Year’s Eve?  New Year’s Day?  What would make the celebration meaningful for you, and for the year to come?  And what planning is needed now?

Okay.  Fill in anything I missed.   Now, look again at your planner. There’s another area worth exploring:  the emotional world.  This is a little trickier to concretize, but the emotional world can give us energy or deplete our energy stores.  Here’s a list of typical stressors:

*Your feelings about the holiday/your memories about the holidays, e.g. whether you look forward to them or dread them
*Your own pressure to perform over the holidays, to create the “perfect” holiday and make everyone happy

  • Increases in sugar and alcohol consumption that alter mood (yours, and others’!)
  • Decreased sunlight/time in sunlight, leading to your feeling “blue”
  • Strained relationships with in-town or out-of-town family members, who are now IN YOUR HOUSE!
  • Feeling alone or lonely; missing loved ones or holding the perception that everyone else has a family and you don’t
  • Weird work parties, where boundaries disappear that night then reappear in the morning
  • The traffic on Colorado Boulevard especially from December 15 on!
  • Attempts to lose weight during the holidays
  • Post holiday blues

As you read over the list, pay attention to the feelings that come up around particular holiday celebrations, or particular people you’ll be interacting with.  Look again at your planner and highlight the dates that have difficult feelings associated with them, e.g. feelings of sadness, frustration, depletion, high stress and anxiety, etc. 

Now, take a final look at your planner.  Determine which of these dates, or which spans of time, will require more from you, both in terms of task, and/or emotion?  These are the times to give yourself an extra dose of care…to create a plan for down time, for time away from the stressors, for the kind of self care that replenishes you and helps you return to the situation with new energy.  These times require MORE than your usual self-care…more time, more rest, more exercise, more solitude, more of what you love…as stress goes up, so must your resources.

We urge you to take the time now, to plan your breaks, to create some breathing room and personal joy in an otherwise jam-packed schedule.   If you take the time now, you’re likely to cope better overall, and to find yourself in balance for the new year.


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