As the year comes to a close, fewer hours of daylight coupled with higher stress levels brought on by the holiday season can have a disastrous effect on mental health. As many as 10 million Americans are affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a form of depression that strikes during fall or winter, more commonly known as the “winter blues.” The winter blues couldn’t come at a worse time for many creatives, for whom the holiday season is typically crunch time for sales, pop-up shops, and product launches. If you add that to the stress of family obligations, endless social engagements, and checking off every gift on your list, it’s easy to see how the end of the year can lead to complete mental and/or physical exhaustion. While it might be tempting to hide in bed with a cup of hot cocoa and Netflix until New Years, the fact is that your to-do list isn’t going anywhere. Here are some tips on how to boost productivity during this hectic time of year.
Prioritize & Plan Ahead
With so much to get done during such a short period of time, it’s important to be realistic about what you will be able to achieve before the new year. Write out your to-do list and prioritize your goals.
Schedule (use apps)
These days, there’s an app for just about everything – including managing your busy life! Take advantage of technology that help you stay organized, like Evernote, Asana or even the calendar app on your phone. If your creative passion involves using social media, be sure to save time by scheduling posts in advance with apps like Buffer or Hootsuite.
Strike A Balance
December can be a demanding month, personally and professionally, but you can strike a balance between the two by being intentional about your time. Many people choose to schedule time off in December or take on fewer responsibilities professionally in order to make time for family and rest.
Learn the power of “No”
“No” is a complete sentence, and you are entitled to use it whenever it feels right for you. Although many will be seeking your help and attention in the coming season, know that you are not a superhero and can’t possibly extend yourself to everyone and everything. It’s much better to say “no” than to produce work you are not proud of or worse, burn yourself out trying to live up to the expectations of others.
Give Yourself Some Grace
This time of year tends to be emotionally trying for people. Some must come face to face with family members they don’t get along with or deal with the pain of being estranged from their families. For many, grief can resurface from having to get through certain holidays without a loved one who has passed. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling and have compassion for others who might be silently moving through their own emotions.
Self-Care Is a Must
November through December may be “the season of giving,” but don’t forget to give back to yourself. It’s been a long year. Schedule some “me time” and give yourself the space you deserve to recharge. One of the best ways to recharge is by going out into nature. There might be fewer hours of sunlight, but don’t underestimate the power of vitamin D for your overall mood. In fact, one of the most commonly suggested treatments for SAD/winter blues is Light Therapy, which utilizes a lamp for those in overcast climates who spend long hours inside.
Keep Up With Health Habits
When schedules become hectic, healthy habits are often the first to go. Be mindful about healthy snacking, drinking enough water, and getting adequate rest, all of which can boost your mood and mental functions.
The end of the year can present many mental and emotional challenges, but with these tips, you will be able to slay your goals while still finding time for rest and holiday cheer!
All images are provided by TONL
Rowana Abbensetts is a wordsmith and editor from Brooklyn, NY. She holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Kenyon College. As a lifelong writer, she has made it her mission to help women heal through telling her own story and inspiring others to do the same. She is the founder of Spokenblackgirl.com, a publication designed for women of color to share mental and emotional holistic wellness experiences.