The holiday season is finally here! As you finish your finals and bid adieu to your desk, the kickoff to kicking your feet up draws closer.
Along with festive décor, gingerbread cookies, and the crisp scent of evergreen, the “most wonderful time of the year” can also bring on feelings of stress and anxiety. While we like to imagine that we’ll spend our holiday breaks lounging fireside in fuzzy sweaters, the reality that awaits often involves less R&R and more prep for the championships waiting just around the corner. Add on the pressure of picking out the perfect gifts and the tension that can come from too much time with family, and holiday season can quickly become the most stressful time of the year.
So how do you avoid having your holiday break besieged by the compulsion to arrange for the months ahead? Just in time for your time off, we’ve rounded up a list of steps to successfully better your break. Study up on our favorites and commit to them before you depart to ensure your time off is spent healthily relaxing and recharging for the New Year.
While you should definitely make a strong effort to check out of work-mode over the holidays, it’s important that you’re also realistic with your expectations. Now that we’re all accustomed to being constantly connected, it’s that much tougher to unplug. Don’t enter into your break with the assumption that you won’t even glance at your to-do list until your time off comes to a close. You’ll likely wind up disappointed and frustrated. Focus on being better than normal, rather than perfect.
Lay Some Ground Rules
When you’re planning to disconnect for some time, it’s important that you set some clear expectations—both for yourself and for your coach/team. In regards to yourself, will you allow any time to check in on cheer-related matters? If so, outline those rules now, such as only letting yourself stay at open gym for one hour each day. Also, make it known to your teammates that you plan to be out of touch and for how long, so that they know better than to wait on you. If your team holds official practices over the holidays, set clear intentions about how you plan to spend your down time.
Prioritize and Work Ahead
A key part of truly being able to unplug during your time off is adequate prep work — after all, it’s tough to relax if you feel like there’s a ton of unfinished business looming.
When you’re a few weeks out from your break, make a list of all of the things that you can accomplish before you officially check out. Sort the tasks that are left in order of deadline, and then start chipping away at those to-dos ahead of time. That way, everything should be pretty close to handled by the time you stroll out for break.
Refrain From Setting Goals
This one can seem somewhat counterintuitive, especially with the popularity of resolutions during this time of year. However, if you know you’re going to be tempted to work when you really should be enjoying quality time with your friends and family, refrain from setting any athletic or academic goals for yourself until you’re back from break.
Why? Well, outlining those ambitions during your time off will likely inspire you to get moving on those goals immediately — which will ultimately put you right back into work-mode.
Abandon Your Electronics
Perhaps you’ve implemented all of these tips and you still don’t feel confident that you’ll be able to enjoy the festivities without a screen in front of your face.
If that’s the case, go ahead and lock away your electronics – even for just a few hours each day. Power down your phone and keep it in a drawer. Put your laptop in your backpack in the back of the closet — where you’ll have to consciously reach for them.
These small changes can make a huge difference in how often you find yourself relying on those devices. When you need to be intentional about their use, you’re much less likely to be attached to them.
You deserve some time to unplug and relax over your holiday break. But, sometimes that’s easier said than done. Put these tips to use, and you’ll be able to enjoy some (mostly) work-free and guilt-free time off.