Though I strive to create margin in my life, our calendar over the past few months ended up busier than normal, full of appointments, events, and deadlines. While our culture often wears busyness like a badge of honor, I’ve come to realize how much I need true to truly rest and reset, especially after the holidays. With that in mind, here are some simple tips for you (and me) on how to recover after the holiday hoopla:
Rediscover the simple joy of being at home. Though I love the busy whirl of activity in December and the beginning of January, it’s important to take time to rest. One great way to do so is to implement the Danish art of hygge. Pronounced “hoo-ga,” the word invokes all things cozy. If you’re in a cold climate, as I am, you can cultivate a hygge atmosphere by lighting candles, utilizing scents like orange and cinnamon, and putting on soft music. And although I typically take my Christmas tree down sometime in January, I keep up the white lights on my staircase and upper banister until sometime in March. The twinkling lights provide comfort during the deepest, darkest part of the year.
Remember what matters to you. I value things like connecting with others, creativity, and healthy habits—but when my schedule fills up, those things can fall by the wayside. Getting back into the habit of connecting daily with Jesus (I love the Bible app—I’ve been listening to the audio version of The Bible in One Year by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel from HTB Church), sending a message to a friend I haven’t seen in order to set up a coffee date, and taking time to do something creative helps remind me what’s important to me.
Give your checkbook a break. After the whirlwind of gifts and activities during the holidays, it can be helpful to work on saving money as the new year begins. January is typically the month where our family simultaneously does a no-spend pantry month as well as pledges to only use gift cards we’ve been given for activities and dinners outside our home. There are tons of articles online outlining the no-spend pantry month, but the basic premise is that you catalog everything in your pantry and freezer and use up what you already have in creative ways, only buying basic dairy and produce items. It’s also fun to make it your goal to only visit places where you have gift cards in order to use them up. One couple at our church schedules a date day where they only spend money available on gift cards, traveling from coffee shop to restaurant to home goods store, finding out what’s on the card and only spending that amount—no more than that. Implementing these strategies last January saved our family a lot over the course of the month.
Don’t let the stress of returning to work and your regular routine overwhelm the moments you shared with family and friends during the holiday season. Take a few minutes to look through the photos you took over the holidays, then print a few off and post them where you’ll see them. Or, make something that lasts a bit longer: After Christmas this past year, I used a Shutterfly gift card toward a simple book of photos from the previous year. My three young daughters and I have spent countless moments together paging through that book and reminiscing over the fun times we had together.
Practice kindness, both to yourself and to others. As the year begins, we often feel the pressure to lose weight, declutter our house, or try new things. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to change aspects of your life, but an all-or-nothing approach can quickly leave us frustrated. Start by being kind to yourself, giving yourself grace when life doesn’t look the way you’d hoped it would. And, don’t forget to extend that kindness to others in your home, knowing that they are experiencing the same post-holiday return to reality. For more specific ideas on kindness, check out The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional or 100 Days of Kindness. Both books tell the story of how our family embarked on a one-year journey of kindness—the successes, failures, and how God redeemed it all in the most incredible ways.
Now that the New Year is in full swing, I pray you’ll find a measure of true rest as you reset and recover from the busyness of the holiday season.
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