A Melbourne arcade decorated for Christmas

Hustle to Hush: Navigating a Slow and Meaningful Holiday

How is it already December? Everyone I have spoken to over the last couple of weeks has commented on how quickly the end of the year has come, and I completely agree. It always seems like the last couple of months of the year are on fast-forward and it’s hard to not get caught up in it all. The days are getting longer, the weather is getting hotter, and the invitations start arriving in the inbox from work, family, and friends. The pressure of trying to get tasks done before the deadline at the end of the year becomes more apparent. And let’s not even start talking about gifts.

Even as I am writing this out, I can already see how exhausting the holiday season is going to be. Instead of trying to do it all, I have decided to set the goal of slowing down for the weeks ahead. The aim of slowing down is to enjoy the present moment more by doing less and with more intention. The benefits of slowing down can include having deeper connections with others, being more productive in what you do, decreasing levels of stress, and having more meaningful experiences. As great as that all sounds, this is not something that comes naturally to a lot of us, and it can be a little confusing about where to start. Here are a few recommendations:

How to start slowing down

Give yourself permission

Probably the most important thing, you need to give yourself permission to slow down. This will help with some of those more difficult thoughts that may arise, such as “I should be doing this” or “I need to attend that event”. When this happens, having coping statements – a statement that will challenge difficult thoughts, can be really useful. Statements such as “I give myself permission to slow down” or “You deserve to do less” may help alleviate the impact of the difficult thoughts. You may find it useful to write these coping statements down on a card to carry around in your pocket or wallet for gentle reminders.

Less time with technology

It is so easy to get caught up with the fast pace of technology: the urge to check notifications as soon as they come through, the pressure to reply straight away, and the ever-new content that social media brings with their carefully curated algorithms to pull us in. Technology is like a double-edged sword.  It has been designed to make our lives easier, but to what cost? Learning to take a break can be highly beneficial. To make a change, try putting your phone slightly out of reach, or even better, in a completely different room. By making it slightly less accessible, we can start to break up the pattern of automatically picking up, responding, and getting drawn back into the technology world.

One task at a time

Another crucial factor in slowing down is being able to work on one task at a time. We simply cannot slow down if we are trying to multi-task. It is actually quite counter-intuitive. When juggling multiple things, this can impact our learning, retention, quality of work, satisfaction/stress, and efficiency. By prioritising one task at a time, you are actually being more productive in the long term, and often feel better at the end of the day too!

Learn to say no

We simply can’t do it all and being able to say “no” is the gateway to being able to set boundaries. This is a lot easier said than done. Many people can feel guilty, embarrassed, or awkward saying “no” to others. When stuck in this sticky situation, it might be helpful to reframe it as every time you say no, you are providing an opportunity to say yes to something else. If you need some further assistance with this, we have an entire blog dedicated to saying no here!

Pleasurable activities

I know as soon as my schedule starts to get too busy, the activities I do that bring me joy and are an important part of my self-care, fall off the timetable. Slowing down is also about creating space for things that are important to you. I find this means doing things that help bring me into the present moment and engage my five senses, such as drawing, yoga, doing a face mask, and reading.

 Sometimes this is hard on your own 

It’s also important to know that slowing down can sometimes be difficult to do on your own. A way to combat this is to connect with others. You can do this by being honest with how you are going with loved ones. You may even find someone who also wants to slow down and you can work on this together! Alternatively, you can look at other ways to connect with others such as going to public places like the park, beach, or library. You might even consider finding a volunteering position that helps others or looking at what fun activities your local area is hosting.

For more tips on slowing down and coping with the Christmas holidays, check out our other blog posts here and here!