So the holidays are fast approaching, and your already hectic life is about to be put on fast forward. Parties, mulled wine, family gathering, Christmas cake, last-minute shopping, mince pies… all the joys of the holiday season.
I don’t know about you, but approaching the big holiday and after, I always used to come down with a really bad cold. And nothing feels worse than being all dressed up at a fancy gathering while despondently sick.
It kind of makes you wonder – why would such a joyous season bring on bad health? Well, we can take the alcohol, sugar, lack of sleep, change in weather and increased stress for starters.
Put all this together, and you have one miserable concoction for remaining consistent with your writing practice during this frantic season.
Keep reading to find out how you combat illness, find enough time for your craft and totally knock it out of the park during this exciting holiday:
1. Take advantage of the pre-season benefits
So before the middle of December hits when you become absolutely swamped with the festive season’s demands, let’s press pause and think about your pre-season strategy.
It’s still November, and that means we’re taking a deep breath before we plunge into the busiest time of the year. While we gather our wits before the onslaught of merriness, have a gander at your social media calendar.
An easy way to keep your social media presence consistent during the holiday is to pre-schedule posts for the next month into the New Year. This sounds a lot more difficult than it is. A short two to three hours now will save you countless headaches in the near future.
With pre-scheduling, you no longer have to worry about rushing to post a last-minute thought when Grandma pops over for a surprise visit, nor do you have to stress about a missed post while enjoying a glass of bubbly at an evening soiree.
The pre-season breather also allows you to write some content ahead of time. You may not have time to write a month’s worth of posts and chapters before the holidays hit, but you can at least plan out deadlines, headlines and get a head start. This will save you the trauma of last-minute panic when you just can’t think of what to write when also trying to figure out where you’re going to fit in wrapping all those presents.
2. Take care of your health
As I mentioned above, I used to get sick all the time over the holidays from my body being worn out. If you’re ill, you definitely can’t put in the time or effort to write your best and meet your targets. The below are steps that really help to prevent that winter bug from draining your joy during the festivities. I make sure to follow these to enjoy a flu-free season:
Sleep is so, so important! Whether it’s staying up late with friends or baking cookies into the wee hours, sleep is usually the first to be robbed during this busy period.
Lack of sleep not only impacts our efficiency and concentration (which are both extremely important for writing), but also our immune system, making us more susceptible to getting sick.
Getting up early to write before the whole household wakes up is a great way to squeeze in some writing time. However, this should not come at the detriment of your sleep. Otherwise, you risk compromising your immune system and getting sick, which will not only take you away from writing but also from the holiday fun as well.
This is like the secret ninja stuff that will keep you healthy despite the outbreak of refined sugar, processed sweets and snazzy cocktails during the holidays.
You can get your probiotics through organic yogurt (if you’re okay eating dairy), fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi or a multivitamin that specifies live cultures. My favourite, all-time-favourite way to get probiotics is by drinking kombucha. Kombucha is fermented tea that provides live culture to heal your gut, boost your immune system and energize your body to deal with day-to-day stresses. Kombucha comes in an endless variety of flavours that you can buy in your local health food store or easily make at home. Bonus: Your homemade kombucha would make a great DIY gift for friends and family!
Eating healthy and exercising
Save the feast for days like Christmas dinner, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.
Eating without thought throughout the holiday season will make you feel lethargic, cranky and annoyed at your weight gain. Don’t be the January gym “resolutionist” (you know, those people who gained weight over the holidays and make a resolution to lose it in the new year, only to waste a whole year’s gym membership when they lose motivation by January 31st). Keep your body in shape from now by continuing your exercise routine as much as you can. On non-feast days, make sure to eat healthy, minimally processed and organic food when you can. Your body (and waistline!) will thank you.
Alcohol in moderation
We love the bubbles, incredible cocktails and mulled wine during the holidays, but these come with a big caution sign. Not only do these beverages add additional calories to your daily menu that you usually would not ingest, alcohol also inhibits the immune system and can be a gut irritant. Additionally, alcohol impairs your ability to write well – when you reread your work the next morning, you may be quite disheartened to realize that your supposed Hemingway-esque prose sounds more like a lovesick teenager’s school note.
When out for the holiday season, make sure to drink at least one glass of water in-between drinks to remain hydrated, and stock up on probiotics (see point above!).
3. Stress management
Even though the holidays can be the one of the happiest times of the year, with everything going on it’s not difficult to become overwhelmed.
A secret to remaining happy and sane during this busy time is investing in “me-time”. Even though the holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, we also need to respect ourselves and the need for some down-time. Everyone’s down-time is different. This can be hiking up our feet and scrolling through Netflix on a quiet evening, or for more therapeutic time we may journal, meditate or take a bubble bath. Whatever your “me-time” looks like, make sure to schedule it at least once per week to keep yourself stress-free. Another point to keep in mind is to set realistic targets and goals for your writing over the holidays. Just anticipate that you will be busier and more tired than expected, so I wouldn’t recommend setting a 30,000 word goal by the end of the month or finish editing your trilogy novel. Keep your goals and deadlines friendly during the merry season – remember, your ultimate goal is to give gratitude and appreciate your loved ones, so make sure that your writing won’t interfere with that.
The holiday season is a time to gather, eat fabulous food and reconnect with friends and family. While we may not wrap every present beautifully, hit all of our writing goals or make it to the gym everyday, don’t let these imperfections steal the joy, merriness and happiness of the season. Being perfectly imperfect makes us human and the holidays that much more real.
Enjoy, laugh, eat and love.
Have a safe and happy holiday, fa la la la!