Last Christmas I had been clocking 100 hour weeks for at least six months.
I wasn’t ever able to “switch off” and would wake up most mornings with emails part-drafted in my head. The demands of my corporate job had forced me to cut off most communication with my family and friends during the year – I barely had time for the loo, so taking calls and replying to emails was out of the question.
On Christmas Eve, I worked until COB before crawling home to my festive family who had already made an impressive dent in the eggnog. On Christmas Day, I fought the instinct to obsessively scroll through my work emails. And, there was that nagging voice in my head wondering if s*** had hit the fan in my absence. Then, a holiday disaster came in the form of a day at the cricket + a warm chicken burger. Hello salmonella! I was out for a week (but, hallelujah, I was off my phone and finally out of work-mode). Then, back to the office.
This year, I’m determined that things will be different. So, me and a few fellow workaholics have devised some cheeky, easy ways to ensure we make the most of our down time.
Want to expedite your transition from frazzled employee to ultra Zen human and be ready and roaring to take on 2018? ‘Course you do! *fist pump* Read on…
iPhone, Laptop: Be Gone
You’ve earned your holiday damn it! Work is less important than your brain makes out – the office will survive without you (it will). There will ALWAYS be more work to do so don’t expect to have ticked every box and filed every email before you go on leave, you perfectionist, you.
News flash: while you’re away from the office it’s OK to be unreachable. Put your Out Of Office on and walk out without your laptop. Then, turn your phone off so you’re not tempted to check your Blackberry’s red flashing light, that infernal WhatsApp blue tick, or the heart-attack-inducing ‘ping’ of your iPhone. Hide your phone (all of them) in your undies drawer.
Get Out of Work Mode
I’m the WORST at sitting still, relaxing and taking in the moment. My brain is always buzzing about landing the next task or obliterating my ever expanding To Do list. So, my Grandad taught me this cool trick: lay flat and comfy on the floor, close your eyes, breath out for as long as you can until you completely empty your lungs. Do this 100 times. You’ll probably feel light headed – that’s a massive (free and totally legal) oxygen high – but you’ll also feel relaxed as hell and, if you’re lucky, you’ll fall asleep.
Instead of getting into a tiz if you get lumped with gift wrapping duties, use it as an opp. to flex your “mindfulness” muscles: wrap, tape, fold, wrap, tape, fold, re-wrap…and so on. Think only of the wrapping. Hello, Zennnnnn.
Treat Yourself – Reset, Recharge, Relax
Set aside an hour a day to do something just for you: jog around the park, take a power nap, get a massage, de-clutter your bedroom, meditate using the Headspace app, watch The Snowman, dust off an 80s aerobics vid, read a trashy mag or that novel perennially featuring on your must-read list.
Me, I’m going to try to finish a book, perhaps The Sellout.
Helping others also makes you feel great too, right? Its about endorphins or something. So, be the designated driver; reach out to an old school friend you haven’t seen in a while or one who needs a shoulder to cry on; go shopping with your grandma; help your mum put up the Christmas tree; sit down for a nice cuppa /game of Scrabble with your dad; or make your sister giggle – this clip always has me and my Sister ROFLcopter-ing.
This year, I’m going to hit the beach with my Grandad.
The holidays are a hectic time – there’s pressure to catch up with family and friends, concerns about buying the perfect gift, family politics, dashing countless times to the shops for the mint sauce you forgot or those gluten free bickies for your aunty. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and forget why you’re there. So, when you’re chatting with your nan or sharing a beer with a mate, put everything else aside and focus your attention on the conversation: actively listen to what they are saying, notice their body language, empathise. You’ll be more likely to connect and have a meaningful catch up.
Reflect on 2017, grab a Crayola and draw up a giant list of everything you have achieved this year, celebrate these successes with a mince pie or two (because the eggnog will be long gone). Set six goals or set your one-word intention for 2018. You might want a pay rise and a promotion, or to improve your yoga practice, or plan an epic summer holiday.
Avoid Chicken Burgers
I’m not sure about you, but I’m definitely going to steer clear of warm chicken burgers this year…cricket, on the other hand, I’ll put up with for Dad’s sake.
This Christmas, I’ll be seeing my Dad, my Mum, my Brother and Sister, my Mama and my Pa, and we’ll be drinking White Wine In The Sun. And, I plan to take it all in.
Do you find in difficult to switch from work-mode to holiday-mode? What are you going to do this year to make the most of your break from the daily grind?
Connect with Elissa here,
Elissa James is a lawyer and the founder of IrisLillian.com, a light-hearted career, office style and wellness webzine for professional women.