Give Yourself a Holiday Break

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." {Winston Churchill}

This week is the last full, regular week of the year. Hard to believe, right? It’s true, though. Most people will be off for at least part of each of the next two weeks for either the Christmas or New Year holidays. Personally, I’m giving myself a holiday break from my regular work for the rest of this year, and I encourage you to give yourself the same or something similar. Even if you can’t take time off of work, I encourage you to give yourself a break from any side projects or other “work” endeavors that you have going on. Use the holidays to spend time with those you love and care for, or use it to connect better with yourself.

For those of you who have the freedom to take a holiday break, please do it. Take some time to finalize your holiday shopping or to write thoughtful cards to those important to you. Above all, take time to connect with yourself. Spend your days allowing your imagination to run free and to pick up as many insights and inspirations as possible. Of course, have your notebook handy to jot down all the brilliant insights that come to you because they will happen. If you take work off of your mind, you’ll be amazed at how your subconscious is still stewing on problems or challenges that you have. Pay attention to any insights and/or moments of clarity you have. This is where you’ll find the gold.

Even if you can’t a holiday break from work these next two weeks, then at least minimize your non-social commitments. Give yourself a break from projects that you work on after hours or on the weekends so that you can better connect with your holiday commitments. The work will still be there, ready to go, when you return in January. Use this time to talk to people and let ideas simmer in your mind. Just as I said before to those who put all work aside, you’ll also find that your mind is still working on problems and attempting to find solutions. Keep your pen and notebook handy. Pay attention in conversations to anything you say (or that others say) that resonates with you. Practice being present and staying connected to yourself.

If you absolutely can’t take any time off for a holiday break and can’t even put aside your side projects or other commitments, then I encourage you to just be fully present in whatever you’re doing. When you’re working, give that your all. When it’s play time or social time, give that all of your attention. Separate yourself from your work and put it aside. Focus on what you’re doing in the moment and how you’re feeling. Savor the food, drink, and conversation at the parties or dinners you attend. Take the time to connect with how you’re feeling and what you’re doing.

In the end, giving yourself a break combined with mindfulness and paying attention will help you have the most enjoyable holiday season. Approach situations with an attitude of peacefulness and curiosity. If you’re stuck doing something you don’t want to do, make the most of it… Then resolve to do something different next year. We always have choices in life, even when it might not feel or seem like it. Be the master of your own time and effort. Take responsibility for your experience and how you show up in this world. Be the type of person you’d like to have interactions with. All of these little steps go a long way toward allowing you to be peaceful and to enjoy yourself as much as possible this holiday season.

What about you? What are some of your strategies or practices for maximizing holiday downtime and fun?