I’m talking about all that “stuff” we fill our days with that keeps us on our toes, on edge, and on a path leading to regret and often to some dangerous habits. Sadly, it is often the same “stuff” we get kudos for from family, bosses and everyone who benefits from our “tireless” efforts (reality check: THEY are not tired; we ARE). And let’s face it; too often it’s the stuff we put on ourselves. Frequently we are our own biggest critic and our own biggest cheerleader, encouraging ourselves to fit more in, to feed that frenzy!
Sure, it’s good to be efficient. But I find myself making a game of seeing how much I can squeeze into five minutes, or thirty minutes, all through the day. You’d be surprised; it’s pretty impressive! However, I also find myself getting to the end of far too many days and realizing that I have not experienced the day that has just finished. I mean, I survived it, but that doesn’t mean I experienced it. It’s more like I attacked it with so much focus that I was blinded to the small moments, or even to the potential for those moments. You know, the moments that matter.
While I know we’re all busy during this most unique holiday season, I encourage you, along with me, to carefully weed out the things that don’t matter so much and replace them with only the things that do.
- Toss your unrealistic intentions. The good intentions that are bound to lead to disappointment should get ruthlessly eliminated right now, before the disappointment and guilt settle in. That includes things like the hand-made gifts for every teacher in the school district that you want to make, but that you haven’t even purchased the supplies for yet. Or the two-dozen cookie trays consisting of 35 unique cookies per tray that you have been wanting to make (besides the would-be recipients may appreciate that you didn’t add to their guilt come January’s weigh-in!). Even those all-day, back-to-back appointments for work can’t become a habit. Stop it now before you burn out!
- Prioritize people. Instead of spending hours (or days) making sure the house is immaculate for the holidays, make time for a Zoom party with the friends you can’t meet with face-to-face right now, and with your family from out of state who can’t travel to see you this year. All you have to do is wear relatively clean clothes (or at least a clean shirt, am I right?) and point the camera toward a clean-ish space! Then sit back, relax and enjoy the time you have with them.
- Make the best of less. Don’t waste tons of time (and money that so many of us are extra short on this year) preparing food for the masses. Instead, take advantage of smaller gatherings and spend more time playing games with those closest to you. In fact, let everyone choose a dish and cook it; preparation of a smaller-scale meal will be easier to supervise!
I’m sure you have other helpful ideas, and I’d love to read them in the comments!
We’re all a bit off-kilter this year, so give yourself some grace. Give yourself room to breathe and make some time to just do that, to just breathe. The important things will fall into place more easily when you’re rested, calm and feeling fresh instead of frenzied.
Remember: every minute does not have to be jam-packed, no matter what you may be telling yourself. It is better to be available than filled with regret. Most of us have been reminded more this year than ever that life is short. Step away from the laptop. Look up from your to-do list. Notice the people in your life and enjoy them, as you forget about the frenzy.