I just got power back after 24 hours, because someone hit a pole in my neighborhood. I also lost my computer profile. I am freaking exhausted. It feels like the universe is conspiring against me. But I’m still kicking. I finished my Christmas cards in the dark. I wrote a lot. I had a friend who could come and pick me up and give me a place to recharge my phone and get work done. It could always be worse. Keep looking forward, y’all. You can do it.
At this point, as we’re making the mad dash towards the finish, it’s tempting to say, “I’ll just eat whatever I can get my hands on” or “I can sleep after this is all done.” Although there certainly are concessions that have to be made, it is even more crucial during crunch-time to take care of yourself as much as possible. That means eating some damn vegetables, and getting to bed each night. Sure, this may not be the best time to try that juice cleanse that your aunt keeps bringing up, but you should at least try to keep your body from double-crossing you when you need it most.
We’re getting closer to the end, here. The last week. If you’re like me – planning a trip, finishing everything, balancing day to day stuff – then you’re probably starting to feel the pressure. At this point, it’s easy to make excuses as to why to avoid priorities and the dreaded to do list. But this is the one time I will suggest this: picture yourself on December 26 (or whenever the holiday is over for you). Imagine it all being over. You did it. You’re done. You’re at home with your pants off, taking a breath because it’s all finished. It’ll be here before you know it. This will seem like nothing in no time. Hold on to that future you.
Take some time today to acknowledge the things that you’ve gotten done over the past two weeks. Don’t look at your ‘to do’ list, but instead create a ‘done’ list (why did I want to write ‘to done’? That’s silly…). Even if you just mentally stop to take stock of what you’ve accomplished to this point, do it. Give yourself that pat on the back. You deserve it. You’re doing a great job, and you’re going to be okay.
A bit of a follow-up to yesterday, but on the other end of it. As much as this holiday may be about the act of giving, there is grace in receiving as well. There will be times when those around you will want to give you something out of affection or friendship, and it is tempting to decline or to explain why you didn’t give them something or to make a blanket statement on why you don’t want anything. Though it may be difficult to do so, try to let go of your reservations. Respond kindly. Acknowledge the act with gratitude and joy in the moment. You may never know how much that means to someone.
Gifts: some people love the tradition of gift-giving. For others, it’s an exercise in stressing the eff out. Not only is it a lot of work – whether you’re buying or handmaking presents – but there’s always that feeling of, “Am I giving gifts that are good enough? Is x person even going to care?” or “Am I going to be the odd man out who hasn’t purchased extravagant items?” Relax. Any gift given is a reflection of love. It doesn’t matter what it is; if it’s thoughtful and given with affection, there’s no contest.
It’s a message that’s ingrained into us throughout the holiday season: making amends. Fixing things that haven’t worked out. Trying to rebuild burnt bridges. And it’s a great idea, but don’t let anyone guilt you into doing this. If there are people you’ve distanced yourself from for the good of your well-being, you are under no obligation to seek them out. Know yourself, and do only as much as you feel you can.
Although it is important to hold onto the True Meaning (TM) of the holidays, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for enjoying the trimmings. I’ve seen a lot of cases where people will look down their nose at those who choose to celebrate the ‘fake’ side of this time of year, such as television specials, music, movies, etc. Just as you should let others observe the time in their own way, let yourself do the same. If that means blaring Christmas music in your car to and from work, I say get down with your jingle bell rock.
I can’t take full credit for this one, because my husband had to tell me this today.
As you’re making plans and trying to execute them, and then find that you are plagued by anxiety, take a moment to be brutally honest with yourself about why you may be feeling that way. Is the course of action you’ve chosen based on your conceived notions of how others will receive you? Is there something you can do to change that? In the best case scenario, what would make you feel better? Can you compromise your plans to be more in line with your own happiness? Stop and think about it. Anxiety is like a leak; follow it to its source and then figure out what to do, instead of only focusing on the puddles.
It’s tempting to go, “On x date, I will do all my baking/holiday shopping/etc.” This is particularly troublesome for me, because I was hardwired from my school days to go, “I can wait until the last minute and pass. No problem.” But life isn’t reading “Lord of the Flies” the night before a test. There’s more to it. Break down your tasks into small bite-sized pieces and work a little each day. That way, if x date rolls around and you can’t do ALL THE THINGS, you’re not left in the lurch. Your brain also builds up a momentum, and you can actually get more done rather than doing nothing and then trying to cram it all together. Don’t get overwhelmed. You got this.