This time of year is full of countless obligations to others. We have parties and work functions to attend, gifts to buy, cards to write, calls to make, food to prepare and the list goes on. No matter how much time we allot, time seems to run short and the stress mounts. Before we know it, days fly by, the holidays are a distant blur, and we’re left exhausted at the beginning of the New Year. The common denominator is most always over-extending and running ourselves empty in the midst of obligations. While we want to keep our obligations to those we care about, below are some tips to help prevent overload. They are suggestions to help you enjoy the season as much as you want the people you care about to enjoy theirs.
Schedule Time for Yourself
If you wait “for it to happen”, it’s not gonna! Just as you make time for other people and other things, throw in something here and there for yourself. What is something you enjoy this time of year but haven’t done for a while? What is something you have been too busy for and keep putting off? Is there a friend you haven’t seen in a while with whom you would like to spend some time? It could be small or large, but planning it out and following through is paramount. You’re well worth it and it will pay off.
Unplug & Make Down Time
Many of us spend an exorbitant amount time on the computer, phone, or other electronics. Our phones keep many of us on call 24/7 due to not turning them off or feeling calls have to be returned immediately. While these devices can be wonderful, I urge you to reflect on whether they are working for you or if you are working for them. More than likely, it would be a healthy break to sometimes turn your phone off, shut down your computer, and let the emails wait. Make yourself a priority during certain parts of the day and let the electronics come second to you. You can return to them when your time is over.
What I dislike most about this time of year is the nasty side I see that can come out in others… and yes, that has come out in myself on occasion! Road rage in parking lots, buggy bumper cars in store isles, people fighting over the last item for sale and just general rudeness. Do your best not to get caught up in this side of the season. After all, this time of year is supposed to be about joy and giving, right? The last thing you want is to become what you don’t like and have that attitude pull the joy out of what you’re doing. Laughter is one of the best ways to keep a smile, keep a good attitude and remain patient. Whether you need to do something, watch something, remember something or talk about something, if it makes you laugh then do a lot of it!
Be a Kid Again
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Bring some play back into this time of year! Don’t get so consumed with obligations that play and fun get left out. Whether it’s just in spirit or in action, become a kid again. It will bring more life and energy into your days.
Sylvia Flanagan, MFT is a San Diego therapist with a private practice in Mission Valley. For more information about San Diego Counseling, feel free to call or email her. Office hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 to 6:00.