Winter is practically here, and that means everyone needs a little extra care and patience. Seasonal Depression doesn’t discriminate, even kids during the holidays can feel the effects of short days and cold weather. Here are ways you can take a good mental health break this season (and spoiler: “Get your shopping done early” isn’t one of them).
Mindful productivity is defined as “being consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, in conjunction with managing your mental and emotional states.” This can look like a number of things—taking a break to journal your emotions while working, making your work space more welcoming to you (think: plants, soft lighting, personal décor), or focusing on the present instead of letting deadlines drive your productivity. No matter how you practice mindful productivity, this approach is proven to improve sleep and attention levels, as well as decreasing stress.
In the last few weeks leading up to winter break, try to get some work done with your phone turned off. Make it a goal to not turn it back on until your task is finished. If your phone needs to be on, put it across the room with your ringer on high, and only answer it if it’s a necessary call. Once you’re on winter break, silence or turn it off altogether while spending time with your family, whether you’re watching a holiday movie or decorating gingerbread houses.
We all love looking at photos of holidays past. Challenge yourself to take as many photos of candid moments as you can to reminisce next year. You may find that while you’re looking for candid moments to capture, you’re more present than you would be if you were posing everybody in front of the tree.
ADDITIONAL TIP: If you get a cheap disposable camera, this is a fun thing to do at your family holiday party—you could even turn it into a game!
It sounds obvious, but many people feel guilty about not feeling particularly festive this time of year. If it’s not your year, there’s no need to force it. Enjoy your time with your family and friends, but don’t put the additional pressure of feeling the holiday spirit on yourself.
Allow yourself to say no around the holidays. You deserve time to enjoy the festivities too. It’s okay to turn off your work email notifications when you’re off the clock. It’s okay to refer to someone else if you’re being asked of something during your time off. Set your Out of Office message and allow yourself to relax. We know you tell yourself you’ll only answer “a few emails” on the break, but we also know “a few” will turn into “all of them” quickly if you’re not careful. Set that boundary and stick to it.
Sleep. You’ve been losing sleep over work; you get up early every day. Indulge yourself a little and sleep in a bit later than normal. Take this as your formal, written permission.
This is a great tip for Type A individuals– the kind that love planning, lists, and keeping busy. If you’re finding it hard to be unproductive during your time off, try focusing your energy on something fun for you. Whether it’s working out the details of a trip you’re taking over the summer or just planning a day at the movies, pick a fun activity and plan to your heart’s content!
There are a lot of guilty feelings that surround the holidays: people feel shame for indulging in sweets, they feel bad if they start their shopping late, etc… Remind yourself that these are strictly social constructs and are not indicative of your worth or signs of moral failing. This guilt is adding a stress to your shoulders that you just don’t need. As you navigate the holiday season, remember that this time is supposed to be fun. The people around you love you, and they don’t care if you go grab another slice of pie.
Sometimes a break doesn’t really feel like a break because you spent the entire time socializing. While it’s great to see friends and family, don’t forget to take a day or two to relax by yourself. Grab a book, have some cocoa, get cozy. You earned it.
One of the most energizing things is knowing you did good. Make it a point to make someone else feel good this winter break. Whether you’re volunteering your time, donating money or items to charity, or writing handwritten notes to the people you care about, you’ll be surprised how good you feel when you put in that effort. It is the season of giving, after all!