Do you remember a time when you actually got time off over Christmas?
I do. I remember the Christmas holidays of my school days. Two weeks of being wrapped up inside, by the fire and the tree. Reading, watching films and so much time to do whatever I felt like. Nowadays the Christmas holidays continue like all the other days, with the exception of Christmas day. I do work, I think about deadlines coming up and future plans. I don’t give myself the me time I used to have. Perhaps this sounds familiar?
Whether it’s allowing yourself time off work as a freelancer, taking time off from excessive festive socialising, or time off from buying stuff. It’s important to remember to take time off over Christmas.
Don’t be a scrooge at Christmas
When I was starting out in theatre I had a conversation with someone more established. He was talking about the hard work you have to put in, and how his Christmas was spent writing a funding application. I thought it sounded horrible, and I would never sacrifice my special Christmas time. But I have done this, many times.
Although I may not have been saying “bah humbug”, my actions were pretty much saying it for me.
Giving yourself time off at Christmas
There’s a reason animals hibernate in the winter. It’s cold, and dark and everything’s a bit harder. It’s also natural, it’s taking time off in line with the seasons.
I recently wrote about taking days off each week, and how this is one of the changes I want to make in my life. But now I’m thinking “can I afford to give myself more time off”? I’m not talking full on winter hibernation, not yet. But what about…
… A week off for Christmas
I already have meetings scheduled the week between Christmas and New Year. But what if I look at my diary now and block out a whole week? Can I do that? What would that week look like?
I’d still blog but I wouldn’t do emails…would I? I wouldn’t work on funding applications, or future plans. I’d give myself a whole week of time. Time for deep thinking, for play, for reading, walking. Enjoying the company of loved ones.
The thought of this week is making me feel pretty anxious. Which makes me think I need to try it. If we work all the time the only thing we face is burn out. The work will get worse, ideas will get stale and we will get stiff.
Yes, effort is rewarded. But let’s change the mentality that this means we need to work every second of every day, to never take a holiday and time for ourselves. Because, surely, the effort we put into supporting and nurturing ourselves is also rewarded. As Ellen Bard writes in her post from the Christmas of 2014 “at this point in the year, it’s the perfect time to press pause”.
How will you take time off over Christmas?
So tell me. How are you going to make sure you take time off over Christmas? Will you write ‘day off’ into your diary like I’ve done? Or perhaps you need to make sure to give yourself some you time whilst hosting relatives? What do you need to do to take time off this Christmas?