Is it just me or does the period of time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day always feel like it passes at warp speed? Actually, I know it’s not just me. This is something I hear from people all the time. Clients who are normally pretty centered and have an easy time living in a balanced, intentional way tell me they feel completely out of alignment during the holiday season. Other clients talk to me about feeling anxious and overwhelmed during these last few weeks of the year. Whether it’s the holiday hustle, the pressure to finish work projects, the extra time around difficult family members, or the rush to turn the page and start a new year, this period of time can threaten to throw any of us off balance. That is, unless we get super intentional about staying centered and closing the year strong. Here are three ways to do it.
1. Do a brain dump.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your regular routine while also thinking about all the extra things you have to do to get ready for the holidays and new year, you probably feel pretty pressured and scattered. The best way to clear some space in your head and make it all feel more manageable is to brain dump. This basically means writing down everything that’s swirling around in your mind and organizing it in a way that feels helpful rather than burdensome. To do this, sit down with a pen and paper, and write down every unfinished task, responsibility, to-do list item, and nagging thought that you can call to mind. Don’t worry if it comes out messy, and don’t stop to analyze what you’ve written. Just put pen to paper and dump out everything that’s been swirling around in your head. At a later time, take a few minutes to sit down with what you wrote and organize it into three lists:
- Must Do: Things you’re committed to accomplishing before the year is over.
- Prefer To: Things you’d like to accomplish but aren’t a top priority.
- Maybe Later. Things that can wait until after the new year.
2. Create time to reflect back and look forward.
This time of year doesn’t have to make you crazy. But to feel sane and settled, it’s important to carve out some intentional time for slowing down and tuning in. This is a great time to reflect back on the year that’s passed and look ahead to the year that’s starting soon. Carve out some time to look back at the last 12 months. What were your most meaningful experiences? What were your biggest accomplishments and achievements? What were the hardest challenges you faced? What were the biggest lessons you learned? This intentional reflection is not only a way to slow down and center yourself, it’s also a way to honor what’s happened and clear space for what’s ahead. And, in a kind of paradoxical way, looking back at where you’ve been and deciding where you’re going next can help you feel more present and connected to where you are now.
3. Double down on your commitment to yourself. Between the holiday parties, family time, work deadlines, and travel, you might be feeling tossed around and lost in the shuffle. But you are powerful enough to anchor yourself and stay steady through it all. Make self-care a top priority during the remaining weeks of the year. Even if your normal routine is thrown off, make it a point to show up for yourself in every way you can. Journal, paint, dance, sit in silence, speak kindly to yourself, eat slowly, move your body. Put your commitments to yourself at the top of your to-do lists. If you tend to feel overextended with social commitments, let yourself decline some invitations. If you tend to feel lonely at holiday time, find a way to keep loving company with yourself. Whatever this time of year brings for you, you’ll have an easier time managing it if your energy tank is filled up. And you are the best person to fill it!