Buttery mashed potatoes, scintillating gooey pumpkin pies, family filled-fun game nights, adorable gingerbread houses, the first real snow fall, decorating your living room and waking up to presents – what’s not to love? Well, the countless papers, grueling tests, infuriating group projects, the bitter cold and the stress of buying the right presents throw off your schedule and might make you want to scream. So the question is this: how can we actually enjoy the holiday season? We must find the time to experience the season and not just the thought of it. We must let go of our schedules and not be so hard on ourselves if we skip a run, eat mounds of dessert, or don’t do as well as we wanted to on a paper. Because pretty soon, it will be January and you’ll be wishing you could go back and have another chance at cheer. Here are some tips to help you truly enjoy December.
1) Let go. So you missed your favorite Friday yoga class, or you couldn’t go to your friend’s party, or you ate candy every day of the week – hey, guess what? It’s okay! The energy you spend worrying about these things is energy wasted. And during the busiest time of year, we certainly don’t want to waste any energy. Instead, realize that you just need to make some adjustments for a couple of weeks to accommodate everything that you need to accomplish. Then you can return to your normal routine or schedule.
2) Find time for yourself. If you’ve been in the library an average of eight hours a day for the past ten days – get out. It simply isn’t healthy. I know the feeling of complete and utter stress, but moving into the library isn’t the best answer. Maybe you’ve been going to the library with friends who lower your productivity. Try going to the library alone (you can do it!) or with a friend who you know won’t distract you. Set a time limit for yourself and have a goal in mind like a thirty-minute run, a coffee break with a friend, a half-hour to watch Modern Family or an extra hour of sleep (yes – you heard me). These things will most likely rejuvenate you and help your stress level.
3) Appreciate. When you reach the point where all you want to do is either scream at the top of your lungs, rip someone’s hair out, or curl into the fetus position and cry – DON’T! Take some deep breaths. Seriously. Breathe in and breathe out. This will increase oxygen flow and calm your mind and body. Understand that there are very few things worth getting so upset over and focus on the things that won’t make you upset. Maybe start a gratitude journal – write down three things every morning or night that you are thankful for – or simply think about the things you’re happy about when worrying thoughts enter your mind.
4) Participate in some cliché but totally fun Holiday activities. Have you ever wanted to go to a Holiday sing-along, attend a performance of The Nutcracker, drive to a Christmas tree farm, or ice-skate in an ugly Christmas sweater? Now is the time. Go to Yost Arena this Thursday night at 8pm to ice-skate.
5) Stop dwelling on what your new resolutions will be and focus on the ones you should be working on now. Guess what? It’s still 2011 and there is still time to fulfill your resolutions. Don’t give up but if you’ve decided you can’t deal with them now, that’s fine too. Just give yourself an extra year.
If all else fails, just remember that soon it will be January and you will have a fresh start!