Home for the holidays has a new meaning this year as most of us have spent more time at home than ever before. We’ve worked from home, cooked countless meals at home, and facilitated our children’s remote learning from home. As the holiday season quickly approaches, we’re tasked not only with roasting turkeys and wrapping presents but with how to be at home for the holidays when we haven’t left.
While this year is anything but ordinary, we can do our best to make lemonade out of lemons. Here are six tips for finding balance at home this holiday season.
Take Time Off
This should go without saying, but with many people still hesitant to travel due to COVID-19, the thought of taking a traditional vacation has been put on the back burner. So while taking time to recharge sounds like a no-brainer, make sure you’re utilizing your PTO. Put in for that time off of work, put that out of office, and fully disconnect.
Dedicate a Space for Work and a Space for Everything Else
This is key to finding balance when you’re working from home. It’s best to have a space dedicated to work, so when you sign off for the day, you can mentally and physically step away. This helps your brain disconnect from business and reconnect with your life outside of work.
Not everyone has the luxury of having a dedicated office space or even a desk. So when your kitchen table is doubling as your work area, create a ritual that signifies when your working hours are over. It could be as simple as closing your computer or making your to-do list for the next day. This small action signals to your brain to turn off work. When you’re on PTO, fully clear your work space so you can use it for fun holiday activities like baking and puzzles.
Give Yourself and Others Grace
This may be the understatement of the year, but 2020 has been different, so it’s going to feel different. If you’re feeling sad or down, it’s OK. You’re allowed to mourn the year you were expecting and the holiday season you usually look forward to. Give yourself the grace to feel what you feel, good and bad. Take the weight off your shoulders. You don’t need to feel merry and cheerful all of the time. Finding balance in your life is a continuous process. There will be ebbs and flows, so be mindful that even if a moment is stressful or overwhelming, you will find peace and happiness again.
Limit Screen Time
Again, we’re stating the obvious here, but we’re saying it because it’s essential. Screen time can add up quickly. Between phones, computers, iPads, and TVs, it seems like we’re always connected to the digital world in some form or fashion, and it’s often at the detriment of our health. Too much screen time has been linked to sleep issues, depression, anxiety, and more, especially in children and teens.
Additionally, screen time has served as a pacifier for boredom for adults. Think about the last time you stood in a line and just waited without looking at your phone. It might be harder to remember than you think. It’s because when we have a moment of free time, our first instinct is to grab our phones. We can all take a lesson from Michael Rich, MD, MPH, an Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who says, “Boredom is the space in which creativity and imagination happen.” This holiday season, challenge yourself to disconnect and let your mind wander. You might just find a spark of creativity.
Be Intentional About Family Time
When it feels like we’re spending every moment together, you may not feel the need to engage with your family beyond being in the same room with everyone doing their own thing. As with most things in life, it’s best to act intentionally. Don’t merely coexist with your family, plan to watch a movie together, cook a meal together, or have a game night. Get everyone involved by having everyone choose an activity. Need some fresh ideas? Check out this list.
Take Care of Yourself
Check-in with yourself this holiday season. Take the time to listen to your head and your heart and determine what it is you need. What’s it going to take to end your year on a positive note? Is it relaxing, reading a new book, moving your body, or indulging in seasonal treats? Acknowledge what you need and then take action to take care of yourself.
It’s so easy in the hustle and bustle of life to forget about ourselves. We take care of business, we take care of others, but we don’t take care of ourselves. John Christensen, Ph.D., past co-chair of the APA Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance, says, “One of the best things we can do is to develop a reflective habit of checking in with ourselves at least a couple times a day, taking note of the emotional ‘weather’ without judgment.” Hone into your sense of self-awareness and give yourself the gift of whatever it is you need this holiday season.