How not to burnout over the holidays
It’s the holiday season: cue choirs of angels, morning birdsong, and the clinking of endless coffee cups! Holiday anticipation brings intense joy; however, the reality can be less relaxing. Hours in close quarters with diverse relatives; Christmas to-do lists; and guilt over not reading, cooking, doing, or seeing enough, can eat away at our plans to recharge and rejuvenate. Sound familiar? Well, here’s a pix ‘n’ mix bag of tips to get more relaxation out of your vacation – and back to school feeling amazing.
1. Say no
Would you prefer to stay at home than venture into a world of social engagements, curated courtesy of Christmas FOMO? Here’s a nifty idea – why not stay home? There is a time for deliberate hibernation— and the close of a busy semester is a great one. So say “no” when your gut says to (which ultimately means saying “yes” to what’s really important!).
2. Say yes
We know, we know: we just told you to cancel plans without guilt. However, it’s sometimes just as true that a tired post-semester teacher needs to get out. The trick is to know when “yes” is the answer. (Tip: try flipping a coin technique to decide. If you feel disappointed with the result, it’s probably the wrong one for you.)
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
Your mother-in-law, best friend, or brother may decorate their entire house and garden immaculately, find perfect gifts for everyone, and cook like an international chef—but remember, you don’t have to. Your Christmas can be as simple or complicated as you like. If envy appears (usually in the form of comparison), show it the door. And get back to enjoying the company of those around you, or that oversized spiced hot chocolate!
4. Create a simple ritual
Your Christmas and New Year traditions are your own. So learn what suits you and how much effort you want to make. One or two simple rituals go a long way to topping up the holiday spirit. Try something as easy as watching a favorite holiday movie each Christmas Eve, serving pancakes on Christmas morning, putting up decorations as a family, or baking a batch of cookies with your best friend.
5. Anticipate problems
Cooking disasters, transport issues, too much tipple, kids home from school, cold weather, hot weather, and slightly strange relatives: they’re all part of the holiday season. Hindsight is a smart teacher—so use it to put systems in place to reduce the chances of holiday problems. A pick of our favorites: use place settings to separate relatives who “don’t get along”; eliminate questions of what (and who!) to buy for organizing a Secret Santa with friends; put together a backpack of books and simple activities for over-excited children; and practice that pie crust or new dessert just once before Christmas dinner.
6. Know how you want to act
We can’t change others’ behavior. If you feel reticent about going to a holiday gathering because of how interactions with certain people make you feel, try picturing how you want to behave, and then be true to that. Whether this means saying “no” to another glass of wine, knowing which topics of conversation to avoid, or making a mental note to not ruminate on a sherry-induced sarcastic comment, this commitment to being your best self can really increase your enjoyment of the season.
Too many of us try to wear multiple many hats; teachers especially amiright? (It all comes from being such good multitaskers and problem solvers!) But enough already: the holidays are not an invitation for you to take on more issues. If you have already committed to hosting a festive season dinner, delegate dishes and relish the fun of a truly shared meal. If you’ve got kids, organize with friends to take turns to care for each other’s little ones, or put your partner in charge of “fun” for a few days (even if you don’t agree with their interpretation of the concept!).
8. Have treats for yourself
Borrow a stack of books from the library, order a case of new wine to try with friends, or book yourself in for a day at a spa, class, or a night away at a cabin in the woods. Picture what would increase your happiness and energy during the holidays and take steps to have treats on hand.
Remember: “perfect” Christmases only exist in magazines, but real life ones (complete with emotional highs and lows, excited kids, music on repeat, and cooking close calls) are the best ones in the end. The secret to a wonderful holiday season? Learn to stay calm and give yourself room to breathe to enjoy this time with friends, family – and, of course, that fifth helping of dessert.