As Christmas approaches, we may find that even in a pandemic, and even for some who are possibly going to be spending Christmas day alone, that we still have ‘to do’ lists.
It’s important that despite the things we want to try to ‘fit in’ to make the most of our time (or just to keep on top of our daily lives) that we also find some ‘down time’ to rest and play. For some of you who like that greater sense of control, perhaps it is actually something to include on your ‘to do’ list. lol 🙂
What I’m saying is that it’s important to rest, to play, to take time out and to not feel bad about it. The shortest day has passed and now, daylight hours for most of us will begin to lengthen. We will be looking forwards to Christmas in a few days, which may be a quieter or more solitary experience this year for many, and then we will approach new year 2021.
These collective events and experiences always intrigue me as there is something of the ‘collective consciousness’ about them. That is to say, unlike in times in our own personal life journey’s when there may be a significant event, date or change point, due to how much of the world lives according to the Gregorian calendar, we share these experiences, even if our individual lives differ significantly from one another.
Come the new year, like it or not, we will be out of ‘holiday mode’ and even if not much else changes, we will have to consider things like how to move forwards with jobs, living situations perhaps and other things related to our own change points and also to changing regulations related to the pandemic.
So use some of this time, without guilt, to relax, rest and play. It’s important for your wellbeing, as long as what you choose to do is actually good for you or restful, so choose wisely.
What do you like to do in your ‘down time’? Do you watch films, play games, go for a walk outside if possible, paint, draw, listen to music, chat to a friend, curl up and read a book or simply lounge about for a while?
I hope you find the chance to catch your breath, to rest, and to look forward in Advent to the True Light of Christmas.
It’s now a week and a half since I returned from my pre-Christmas trip to the Black Forest in Germany, although it seems like an age ago now!
I thought I’d share a few highlights from my mini-adventure with you, and maybe follow these pics up with some more details in a subsequent post. I hope it leaves you feeling cosy and festive. Enjoy! 🙂 x
I don’t know about you, but it is a rare treat for me to have an extended period of time off from work. Sometimes I’ll have this time over the summer, but this year I only had a few days off here and there, and I therefore have my longer break from work in the wintertime this year.
It’s nice to not have to get up early in the cold and dark weather to go to work, and to know that for many other people, especially for those of us who are fortunate enough to have office closures over the Christmas and New Year period, we are having a collective rest and break from the normal day to day routine. Of course not everyone has time off and I am especially respectful of those who work over the holidays to keep our communities going, particularly those who work in the emergency services and frontline crisis and care work.
Yet, for many of us, we’ve been long awaiting the Christmas break and are looking forward to a good few days to rest and relax and maybe even ‘hibernate’ a bit.
I’ve already had a couple of weeks off, which has been spent tidying up, organising, decorating, preparing for travel, going away for 6 days to enjoy some Christmas markets, coming back home, catching up with sleep, unpacking, washing, tidying, preparing for Christmas, going to church, preparing myself spiritually and generally trying to get organised. For many of us, the lead up to Christmas seems to bring with it seemingly unending things to do, and the household tasks seem to just keep coming, until we can finally get things all settled, cosy and prepared so that we can have actually have the rest that we have been hoping for and preparing for.
It is easy to get lost in this hustle and bustle, and by the time we do get to ‘put our feet up’ we are more than ready for a rest.
Sometimes Christmas and the holiday period involves spending time with friends and family, and maybe even a change of scene. Once we have prepared and got things suitably ready, had some festive events, and done some charitable acts of kindness, we may find that we are blessed with some quieter days ahead, which will be spent mainly indoors.
Ahead of me is a stretch of 11 days from today – 23rd December until 2nd January 2020 where I’ll be away from my home and spending time with family. We all say it so often, that the time just ‘flies by’ and before we know it we’re in another new year and back in the ordinary routine of things, and feeling stressed again. We sometimes look back and wonder whether we made the most of our time, or whether we ‘frittered away’ our time sleeping too much, eating too much, lazing in front of the TV, and letting days flow into each other in an unproductive blur.
There is a time when we need to rest and relax and just ‘chill out’ but I’m also aware that the holiday season is precious and that I’d like to use my time wisely. However, it is hard to really use our time wisely without knowing what our priorities are, or without having some kind of structure or routine, plan or list of things we’d like to do. It’s nice to be spontaneous, and we don’t always need to plan, but sometimes without any structure we risk wasting time, and for those of us who have suffered from depression and anxiety, some form of a routine is essential for our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
For me, getting back into blogging after almost two weeks away doing other things, provides me with the opportunity to quieten my heart and mind and reflect on how I would like to use my time over the next 11 days.
A simple routine:
Without being too prescriptive, one thing I’d like to maintain is a simple, yet flexible daily routine to add structure, meaning and joy into my Christmas holidays, prioritising what is most important to me. My brain likes to see things written down as this helps me to be wise with my time. So, this is what I’m hoping my days will include:
A healthy dose of rest, relaxation and sleep, incorporating a morning routine where possible, but not putting any pressure on myself to do this.
Focusing on the True meaning of Christmas, and keeping Christ central to my thoughts, and taking time to truly be amazed that God came to earth to be with His people, to save us, to save me, and to deepen my relationship with the God Who loves me.
Having a daily time in Scripture and prayer to God, seeking Him, praising Him, and praying for the needs of others and myself.
Being intentionally grateful on a day to day basis, and taking the time that I don’t usually have to reflect more deeply on the blessings and lessons in my life and to give thanks for them.
Being present and slowing down enough to appreciate the special moments and time spent with family and friends. Appreciating how precious the time we have together is, and enjoying each other’s company and being there for each other.
Taking time to stay in touch with and reach out to friends who I know are struggling in this season due to various circumstances.
Being helpful so that everyone gets a chance to rest and relax over the holidays.
Enjoying food and holiday treats while being mindful of what I eat and not to overindulge.
Keep moving and doing a little bit of exercise, even if just five minutes, everyday, and where possible go out for fresh air and walks so as not to stay cooped up in the house all day every day.
Reflection on the year gone by, on blessings enjoyed and lessons learned, goals achieved, and seeking direction and wisdom for moving forward.
Time spent figuring things out, working through my thoughts, issues and continuing to become stronger mentally and emotionally, and considering my priorities and how I will achieve them going forwards.
Enjoy having time to do things that I find creative or relaxing such as playing Christmas music on my violin, writing more, reading, listening to audio books, watching films, playing games with the family, arts and crafts, selecting photos from the year gone by for creating an album, and taking time to enjoy the cosiness of the season.
Plan for what’s ahead, so that the transition into the new year will be as seamless and enjoyable and productive as possible.
What about you? What kind of holiday routines do you have that help you make the most of your time? x
I realise that it has been a while since I blogged, and that my last post was regarding tips on finishing up at work before the holidays. That seems like quite some time ago now, and I hope you have all been doing well and finding Peace in what can otherwise be quite a busy season.
As an update, I did finish up at work for the holidays, after which I got to cleaning and decorating my home for Christmas. I also mentioned that I had a festive trip planned, and I can now share with you that I was away in the Black Forest in Germany, and visited some festive European Christmas Markets in Frieberg and Strasbourg. More on that soon!
As it is the eve of Christmas-eve, and I’m sure most of us love seeing cosy Christmas pictures, I thought I’d share a few of my own with you, and wish you a Peaceful day.
“It’s beginning to look (a bit) like Christmas”: It may only be the beginning of November, but soon we will be made more aware of the festive and holiday season approaching. If you live in America there is ‘Thanksgiving’ in November, and among other Western countries you may be approaching Christmas, New Year and / […]
So, we’ve covered our top 5 films and made an occasion of them, so what about some ‘feel good’ music?
I haven’t ever put together a Christmas holiday playlist, as such. I tend to just buy music and listen to it on my MP3, or if it’s something I might only occasionally listen to I’ll just look up songs on You Tube and listen to them as and when I’m in the mood for that particular song, or I’ll browse and discover new music. I like listening to things just in the moment as well, and I might not know the song or the artist, but it just connects with me emotionally in the moment. It is nice though to have some familiar favourites at hand for those cold winter days especially when we might need some cheering up.
What will be on your playlist, if you make one up? Or even if you don’t have a playlist as such, what music do you hope to listen to?
For me, I’d definitely want some reflective worship music that I can sing along and praise and worship God to, some instrumental music, some carols, and some good old fashioned Christmas ‘tuuuunes’! which will definitely include some hits from the 1980s and 90s.
What about you? What will you be listening to while you bop around the Christmas tree? 😉 x
Instead of getting stuck in front of the telly when the holidays arrive, mindlessly watching things that you aren’t even really interested in, so that you don’t get to spend your time doing other fun activities as well, be more intentional by planning ahead.
Why don’t you create a personal list of ‘Top 5 Festive Films’ (or however many you want to include, but 5 is a nice easy number to start with) that you really would like to watch during the holidays. Plan them into your schedule so that you can make a special occasion of it, and create some lovely memories.
You might like to include something that you’ve watched before, or maybe that you watch every year, and that has some kind of sentimental meaning to you. Maybe you could watch this with family and friends and have some people over, get some takeaway or popcorn and create a fun get-together with the people you love.
Maybe there’s a film that is shown every year in the cinemas, or smaller film theatres such as “It’s a wonderful life” (or is it ‘A Wonderful Life’…? Oops can’t remember). I have seen this film twice, once in a local artsy film theatre which was quite cosy. I went a good few years ago with a couple of friends from my church. It was snowing, and my female friend and I made snowballs and threw them at our male friend on the way there and back – it was a lot of fun 🙂 Last year I went to see it with another friend, this friend has recently moved home, and for that reason moved on to new friendships so at least I have that memory of a nice festive time together. I wonder what new memories I may make in the future and who with, watching this timeless classic.
As well as going out to see a film, or having a film night with friends and family, you could also have some ‘me time’ and make an evening of it – go to the cinema yourself if you like, or if you’d rather stay in and watch a good ‘oldie’, then get into your cosy clothes, wear some warm socks, get some yummy snacks and have a great night in to yourself watching one of your favourite films.
Make it special so that you’ll have the memories to look back on, rather than feeling like you just mindlessly lay in front of the telly for hours wasting time.
By being more intentional, it becomes more special, and frees you up to use your time for other wonderful things that you could do as well that might include going out, making crafts, or whatever it is that will make the season feel cosy and special to you. x
During those holiday days when you may not have the structure of your usual routine, it can be easy to fall into bad sleep patterns. That’s not to say you can’t stay up late, but just over all make sure that you are getting the right amount of sleep for your wellbeing, I think between 7 to 8 hours a night is recommended. Try not to oversleep or deprive yourself of sleep, and if you need to nap during the day from time to time, then perhaps the winter ‘hibernation’ and holiday period affords a good opportunity for you to catch up on your rest and recharge your body and mind.
Keep everything in balance as much as you can. You might have a lot of events to attend to (or you may not) such as family gatherings, work nights out, meeting up with friends, or maybe travel as well. Be careful not to overstretch yourself while you try to make the most of your time, and be mindful of how important good sleep is for your overall health and wellbeing.
Ah, that wonderful time of the year to huddle up indoors, stay warm and cosy, and indulge in some relaxation. Now, be honest here, what does that tend to look like for you? How much time will you spend curled up on your sofa watching your favourite shows or films and munching on chocolate and / or party food?
Maybe it’s not quite the time of year for that yet, but it does inevitably come around, and unless you’re already quite health conscious it can become all too easy to let things slip.
The result? Feeling sluggish, tired, lethargic, sleepy, a bit heavy and maybe bloated, and in full on hibernation mode. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are stuck indoors during the winter, this can mean limited activity, but it doesn’t inevitably have to mean no activity.
Just think how much more wonderful your holiday season will be if you are feeling bright and alert and at your best, as far as is possible. You’ll be more ‘switched on’ to be able to enjoy the special moments you and your loved ones hopefully are creating, and you will be able to engage better with the people around you. Even if you are facing a particularly hard time this season, taking care of your body and mind will help you to deal better with your challenges and build your resilience through it.
You don’t need to go to the gym, or lift weights or go out for a jog in the cold weather. You can find a few simple activities that work for you that you can do in the comfort of your own home, doing a bit of strength training which you can do with your own body weight, and some cardio. Once again, you don’t need to spend hours at a time working out. Just keep active, little and often if that works best for you, and you’ll feel the difference within you as your heart gets moving and pumps more oxygen to your brain and muscles keeping you alert and feeling better than if you otherwise were just slumped on the sofa.
There is no shortage of inspiration out there. I personally like to follow a few fitness trainers on You Tube, which is absolutely free to do so, and comes with the added benefit of not having to feel self conscious if you’re not comfortable with going to the gym or outside to exercise.
A little at a time throughout the winter season will work wonders for your mind, your energy levels and your waistline!
p.s. Did the cat picture make you yawn? 😉 Time to get moving! 🙂
Travelling teaches youto put your problems in perspective.
For some, “getting away from it all” is exactly what we hope to be able to do. Not just in terms of getting away physically from the daily routine and responsibilities of day-to-day life, but as a means of escape from our deeper problems or issues or challenging circumstances and people.
Travelling teaches you, quite naturally, to look outside of yourself, to grow in awareness of other people, your surroundings, new cultures, ways of doing things and of life in general. One of the gifts of travel to you is that of a fresh perspective, and perhaps even renewed strength to go back and return to take on the tasks and issues of life that you needed a break from.
However, as naturally as this gift comes to us through the very experience of travel, there is a caution that we…