While it is often referred to as the most wonderful time of year (snow, hot cocoa, holiday music, twinkly lights - the best!), the holidays are also the busiest time of year (family obligations, holiday parties, tight work deadlines, delayed flights - ugh).
Often when we get busy, we push our mental wellbeing to the bottom of our to-do list because it feels like there isn’t enough time to carve out that much needed “me-time”. Cue the reasons we say to ourself like - there “aren’t enough hours in the day” to meditate, I am “so busy”, I “don’t have time”. You know what I am talking about!
While I cannot add more hours to your day, I can help you change your perspective toward time, busy seasons, and mental wellbeing so that you realize you can in fact make it all work AND make time for your wellness practices.
Here are some tips to keep in your back pocket as your personal and work lives get busier during this time of year:
Tip #1: Change your language around time.
I used to say "I don't have time" on a daily basis. I couldn't meet up with friends because I had to work on a project because I didn't have time. Didn't make a doctor's appointment for the 4th week in a row because I didn't have time. Stayed glued to the computer for 10 hours and never went for a walk because I didn't have time. That narrative made me feel powerless. Like I was a Sims character being dragged around by a higher source, and that made me feel anxious.
A few things I remind myself of daily to help change the time narrative are:
We all have the same amount of hours in a day
We are in control of our physical bodies and minds
We can set our own priorities
Yes, I may have demands or requirements that I need to own which could dictate my schedule, but it is my choice to prioritize those demands. It is my choice not to carve out the 30 minute walk. I get to decide my priorities. And if my priority is work and not the walk that is fine, but I want and need to own that.
So I no longer say "I didn't have time". I say "I didn't prioritize exercise today". The new version acknowledges the agency that I have over my own decisions, and reminds me that I have the luxury of making choices for myself.
Maybe tomorrow I will choose to prioritize exercise. Every day is new. I have time. There is always time. Make time for your priorities this week.
Tip #2: Please prioritize sleep.
Raise your hand if you have ever cut off sleep in order to finish a project, spend more time with a friend, or because you simply couldn’t turn off your favorite TV show.
I understand! Sleep feels like something easy to cut down on because we spend so much time (8 hours a day!?) doing it, so what’s the big deal if it goes down to 7 hours, right?
Healthy sleep habits help us feel more productive at work, strengthen our immune system, and help our brain function. When I don’t sleep well or enough my mood is low, my face feels puffy, my patience is thin, and I don’t feel as smart or creative or sharp. In those moments, I would do anything to go back for another hour of REM.
So since we know that sleep is so important, let’s elevate our sleep routine.
Using the Hatch Restore to go to bed and wake up has been really meaningful in my schedule. I don’t use overhead lights in my bedroom at all anymore. I turn on the Restore on my bedside table and keep the mood in my room very zen before bed. Pretty cute, my Restore light stays on for 30 minutes at night and during that time my boyfriend and I lay in bed and talk about our days, peaks and valleys, and share stories. When the light goes off, it’s time for bed! Then my alarm goes off in the morning and it’s meditative flutes on the Hatch Restore, accompanied by a soft gentle sunrise-like light instead of a heart-pounding siren in darkness on my phone.
Sleep is important. A peaceful bedtime routine is crucial. You deserve rest.
Tip #3: Lean on Community
Holidays can bring up anxiety around social interaction, travel, and work. I personally experience anxiety on a regular basis, and busy seasons heighten it because I typically cut back on my meditation time, my journaling practice, and my yoga routine to make room for everything else.
People who love you and love me, they want to help us. They just don’t know how, so we have to teach them.
Next time you’re feeling anxious and need support, educate a friend or loved one on how they can help you. Try saying, “When I tell you I feel anxious, what I’m looking for in that moment is ________(comfort, humor, a hug, alone time).” Fill in the blank for you, because we’re all different.
Then that person understands you and can give you exactly what you need to support your wellbeing! Your anxiety is now two against one and you feel more connected to whoever is on your team.
While these are the tips that help me, just remember that everyone is different and that it takes time and commitment to stay true to your routine. Give yourself grace this holiday season, and remember that there is always enough time in the day to prioritize what is important to you!
Mental Wellness Expert Liv Bowser is the CEO & Founder of Liberate, the first ever mental fitness platform, and is a Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher, as well as a RYS 200 Yoga Teacher.