It’s Not a Movie; It’s My Life:
How to Preserve Your Sanity Over the Holiday Week
Tell the truth. How many movies have you watched this week? OK, don’t answer.
If there’s a support group for women who stay home with their entire family for a week each December, I haven’t found it yet. You may think I’m kidding, but along about the fourth day after Christmas (hey, that’s today!), I begin to feel like spilling all my troubles to absolute strangers on the internet or a local Meetup. I might even leave the house for that.
Can we be real? The holidays are rough for those who take comfort in a productive schedule.
Now, I know there are people who would relish the problem of too much family time, and I also realize there are extroverts who thrive on entertaining company in close quarters... This isn’t for them. This is for the rest of us.
Consider the melancholy some of us – not all introverts, by the way – deal with over the holidays. The year’s door quietly closing forever. And the overspending. And the idiotic food choices we succumb to from about mid-November through Jan 1st.
Then, as if that weren’t fodder for open season on self-loathing, you’re trapped inside the house with all the people closest to you. For a very. Long. Time.
Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, chances are you have been in close unusually close cahoots with people you normally see coming and going from day to day, if not far less frequently. How soon the magic fades when there’s no work or school to break up the fun!
Is it any coincidence that there are Twelve Days of Christmas AND 12-step programs for overcoming negative habits, guaranteed to make you a better person – if not you, then someone else in your overfull household? (You know the one.)
Maybe you're like me, and it's already been too much Netflix, and too much Family Fix. On this, “the fourth day of Christmas,” the house is starting to feel like a pressure cooker. If your creative juices have ben diluted in in wassail and inactivity, it’s probably time to break out. Here are some ideas.
Eleven ways to break out of the home pressure cooker:
- Escape to a movie alone. By that, I mean leave the house. Find a flick that passes the Bechdel test, just for good measure.
- Take a walk. The worse the weather, the better. Anyone who wants to come along with you may need the stress relief more than you. Take deep cleansing breaths full of fresh cold air.
- Take a replenishing nap. Here’s a white noise app, if you need it.
- Lose yourself in a book. Check out these best new books of 2017. (Surprise: most of them are written by women.)
- Write in a journal, write late Christmas or New Year cards, write thank you notes, do a crossword puzzle. I learned long ago that when you have a pen in your hand, people don’t bother you. Try it.
- Get ready for your 2018. Sketch out a list of things you want to accomplish and put them in one of those cute new planners.
- Call someone. Texting doesn’t count. Holidays are just the time to catch up with old friends. Chances are that buddy on the other side of the country needs a time-out as badly as you.
- Tidy up. Get a leg up on clearing out the Christmas decorations. We have a long Christmas week this year, and we had a long span between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so neatening up is fair game. A clean slate does wonders for your peace of mind.
- Organize a closet or a room. Get industrious. Choose productivity when you “should” be relaxing. Self-care to you may mean something completely different from the norm. Go with it.
- Escape to the bathroom for a mini-spa. A peppermint facial or a foot massage and pedicure. Bathrooms are a great place to catch a little quiet time, so you may as well get something done while you’re at it.
- Read a self-development book in front of everyone. When someone tries to interrupt you, just read aloud the author’s words. In this way, you can legitimately share (with the ones who need it most) how to be a better person. Without irony or aggression… bonus.
Of course, you love your family. And the neighbors, and the dog, and the uncles and aunts, your mom and dad, your adult children, all the wee nieces and nephews, and all; but if you’re looking for ways to escape for a few minutes, there’s no need to apologize for taking ten.
Consider this a gift, and we’ll talk again in the new year.
Please, if you have any other suggestions for decompressing, add them in the comments below.