The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for many people. The song proclaims "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," but work and extra obligations can end up making it feel anything but wonderful. How can you balance work and leisure during the Christmas season?
Even if you're not the type to keep a schedule, try it during the holidays. Beginning in the fall, sit down with a large calendar and list all the parties, concerts, and other holiday events that you know dates for. Be sure to list work deadlines and other non-negotiables as well.
With this list made, you will be able to fill in other fun-but-not-necessary events without feeling that you're missing something of top importance.
What's most important to you this holiday season? Whether it's time with family, time for reflection on the season's meaning, shopping, events, or working - keep it foremost in your mind. You can't do everything well, so prioritize and focus on what is most important. Concentrate most of your time and energies there.
Be flexible with work, if you can. If you work from home, be extra conscientious about scheduling work hours during the holidays. Set aside blocks of time for work and blocks of time for shopping, baking and other holiday events. If you work away from home, is it possible to use some vacation hours during the hectic holiday months? This can be a real stress reliever.
Just Say No
It's alright to say no to some holiday events. Maybe your family would enjoy store-bought cookies just as much as some that would take you half a day to make. Perhaps your family doesn't have to go to The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol - choose one. Maybe the world won't end if you don't attend every holiday gathering you're invited to during December. Saying "No, I won't be able to do that this year" is actually quite freeing. Try saying "no" to at least a few events this season, and savor the time you've freed up.
A key to balancing work and leisure is to schedule "down time" as well as events. How about scheduling a night at home with the family, listening to Christmas carols and watching DVDs of Rudolph and Frosty? Pencil in an afternoon of reading holiday books with the kids, or even schedule a relaxing holiday nap. Try taking even an extra hour off from work at lunch - it can make a real difference.
You'll feel refreshed and better able to handle the busy-ness of the season if you make time for yourself amidst all the activity.
Remember the Reason
Take time to remember why you're celebrating the season. If you're religious, you have a reason right there. If you're not, it's time to ask yourself why you're celebrating. Do you enjoy creating traditions with your family? Making memories? Focus on the parts of the holidays that you enjoy; perhaps even write a mantra about them, and post it on the refrigerator or someplace you can easily see it when you need to focus during particularly hectic days.
Happy Holidays to all!
Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana. She writes at girlsinwhitedresses.wordpress.com and Associated Content.