The holidays are a time that can be both wonderful and stressful. There are delicious meals and lots of parties and celebrations. But there’s also the stress of planning, shopping, and coordinating those delicious meals, parties, and celebrations. The holiday season can lead to burnout—and fast. And these demands on your time might eat into your dedicated writing schedule. At Writer’s Relief, we know how important it is for writers to deal with holiday stress in order to keep a creative writing mind-set.
Tips To Help Writers Deal With Stress During The Holiday Season
Go For A Walk!
Taking a walk is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to help yourself de-stress. Even a short, ten-minute walk outdoors can have a positive, relaxing effect on your body and state of mind. Many writers find that walking provides inspiration, including J.K. Rowling, who says, “There is nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas.”
Ask For Help
You don’t have to be in charge of everything in order for the holidays to run smoothly. Learn to delegate when you can. Asking for help with holiday tasks will free up some time for you to write.
Turn Off Your Electronic Devices
Cell phone, tablet, TV, computer—shut them all off! Step away from the e-mail! Put your phone on silent and stop watching holiday baking specials!
A constant stream of information and communication is useful, but it can also be stressful. Avoid overload by unplugging for a bit. Use your quiet time to plot out that novel you’ve been working on or finish the short story or poem you plan to submit to a literary journal.
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Go for a run, pull out the yoga mat, head to an aerobics class, ride your bike, brave the mall on the Saturday before Christmas—getting your body in motion will reduce your levels of stress hormones and release endorphins (okay, the mall itself may raise those stress levels right back up, so be careful with that one).
Start The Day Right
Don’t reach for your phone the minute you wake up. Take those fifteen minutes you would spend checking your emails and texts and do something else instead: stretching, reading a book, meditating—whatever allows you to start the day with a relaxed, refreshed mind. You might also use this time to jot down your dreams as fodder for your blog or essay. Stephen King is just one of many writers who find a deep connection between the creative process and dreams.
Okay, we know cleaning the house doesn’t necessarily sound like the most relaxing idea—but a clean living space will do wonders for your stress levels. The holiday season can turn even the most organized home into a cluttered disaster. Even if you spend just fifteen minutes straightening up and picking up discarded mittens and boots, we promise the calm you feel afterward will be worth it! Hint: organizing your writing area can be cathartic and, believe it or not, inspirational.
As your holiday calendar starts filling up, don’t forget to leave yourself plenty of wiggle room and schedule time to decompress and relax! You’re doing no one any favors by overworking yourself, so be realistic about what you do and don’t have time for. And of course, be sure to schedule some time for writing—and stick to it!
Make A List
No, it’s not to find out who’s naughty or nice, but you may want to check it twice!
Making a list will help you prioritize everything you need to get done. Put the most stressful, pressing tasks at the top, and be sure to pat yourself on the back and savor crossing each one off when the task is complete. Remember to periodically update your list: Can any of the tasks be put off until after the holidays? Are there things other people can do or help with? And don’t forget to add Finish Writing Draft to the list.
Tickle Your Funny Bone
Laughing is an effective—and fun—way to naturally reduce stress levels.
So use whatever works for you! Turn on a Netflix comedy special, have lunch with your funniest friend, read a hilarious book—anything that gets you chuckling will do.
Choose The Right Fuel
The holidays are filled with food laden with sugar, fat, and calories—you know, the delicious stuff! While it’s perfectly okay to indulge now and then, try to include meals that are healthy, balanced, and nutritious. Substituting a few carrots for a couple of cookies on occasion will help boost your energy levels (and your mood!).
While you’re busy shopping away for everyone else in your life, don’t forget to spoil yourself a little bit too!
Go ahead and get that new book you’ve been wanting to read, and allow yourself the time to read it! Sleep in for half an hour, grab sushi for lunch, have a mini spa day, go see an afternoon movie by yourself—whatever makes you feel happy, refreshed, and relaxed.
Want to splurge on a writer gift for yourself? Check out these writerly gift ideas.
While the holidays can be stressful, if you take steps to decompress and recharge, you’ll be a happier you. And if you sneak in a little extra writing time, you’ll be a happier writer too!
Question: How do you relax during the whirlwind holiday season?