The Christmas holidays can be frantic – last minute shopping, get togethers with loved ones, parties, travel and festive over-indulgence. But after another challenging year, remember to make some time to relax and unwind so you don’t return to work more frazzled than you left! A big part of this is making sure that you really do have a proper break from your job once your out of office goes on. At least some degree of home or remote working has become the new normal. Although this can have great benefits it has left many of us feeling constantly connected to work which can make switching off in our personal time a struggle.
Christmas doesn’t need to be about ‘stuff’. It may be a cliché but it is true that ‘presence’ not ‘presents’ – the rare gift of undivided attention – is the best thing we can both give and receive. If you are feeling the pinch in the current financial crisis, switching off and recreating the nostalgia of pre-digital festivities – curling up fireside with a good book, playing board games or snuggling in front of Christmas TV – will create magic and memories without blowing the budget.
Here are Shine Offline’s top tips on how to switch off this Christmas…
- Plan ahead
Start thinking now about work to be done on the lead up to the holidays and any deadlines coming up soon after your return so it doesn’t seep into your rest time or leave you fretting about what’s to come in the new year. Making a to-do list for your return ensures you can hit the ground running in January. Manage expectations of others by letting clients and colleagues know when you will be off and that you won’t be checking emails. If there is anything truly urgent they should call you. Make sure that your out-of-office is set and if business is still open on some of your days off include who to contact in your absence.
- Pack away your work tech
At the start of your holidays, don’t just put the out-of-office on but actually put away all your work tech and remove any work apps from personal devices. Lock it in a cupboard if you can’t be trusted to not check. This is especially important if you have been working from home to reclaim your personal space over the festive season. And if you are going away for Christmas don’t fall into the trap of taking work phones or computers with you.
- Write a Christmas wish list
It may have been a while since you wrote to Santa but what would you really like from this break? Think about some of those things you have been missing or have always wanted to try – especially what are the things you would like to do instead of being constantly plugged in and take steps to make it happen. This could serve as inspiration for Christmas presents from loved ones. Whether you decide to go for an icy dip in the sea on Christmas day or relax chin deep in a bubble bath with a good book, resist the urge to post about it on social media. Try and enjoy life’s pleasures without feeling the need to broadcast them.
- Make your home your sanctuary
For those home workers who feel like we have been ‘sleeping in the office’ it really is time to reclaim your home as your sanctuary. Stock up on the creature comforts that will make you feel most relaxed and pampered. Homemade gingerbread, heated blankets, favourite music and real fires are the top of my list. And if you have a quiet Christmas planned treat yourself and do all you can to relax and take a much-needed break away from the pressures and grind of the outside world.
- Cut down on your phone time
You don’t need to go cold turkey to improve your digital habits, being able to stay connected is one of the great gifts of mobile tech. But our phones are designed to get our attention, hooking us in and pulling us back for more. One minute you are wishing your cousin in New Zealand a happy Christmas and the next you are scrolling through photos of other people’s festivities on Instagram. If you have a plan about how and when you are going to use your phone you are more likely to succeed. Turn off notifications and alerts on your phone and bring some consciousness to the way you are using it instead of reacting to every buzz and ping. Establish your tech free times and zones with those you are spending your break with or even just when grabbing some quiet time for yourself. Board games, festive TV and sitting down for Christmas dinner are all improved if we can be truly present with each other.
- Tech free bedroom
Take this downtime to banish tech from your bedroom, prioritise sleep and recharge. Most people use their phones as their alarm clocks so is it any wonder that so many of us are checking news, email, social media from our beds – terrible for our wellbeing and our sleep not to mention anyone you might share your bed with! How long can you go in the morning without switching on your tech and letting the outside world flood in…
- Get outside and recharge in nature
You finally have some time off, its cold outside, it is so easy to get sucked into spending hours online. We barely get to see any daylight this time of year anyway so put down the phone, throw on some layers, get on your boots and step out for some fresh air. How about you leave all the devices behind for an hour and re-engage with the world beyond the screen. Whether with company or taking some quiet time for yourself, spending time in nature is one of the most powerful ways to de-stress and switch off – not to mention burn off the Christmas calories! A bracing family walk is a great way to get kids off devices and reconnect with the people around them before cosying up for a festive movie.
- Read a book
What better time to switch off from devices and lose yourself in a good book than during unstructured holiday time? Research has proven that reading is one of the best ways to relax and reduce stress levels but for many of us it is a lost art. Our phones have become our go-to for all sources of entertainment and information. How about switch it off, put it away and immerse yourself in another world without notifications disrupting you every few minutes. In my house we like to have a ‘reading hour’ where devices go away and everyone snuggles down with a hot drink and a book.
- Get creative
You can’t get lost doom scrolling news or other people’s lives on Instagram if you are busy being creative with your hands. Decorating gingerbread, sketching, baking mince pies or labouring over a challenging jigsaw – there are so many wonderful ways to unwind and find your creative side that is so much better relaxation and happiness than sat on your phone. And remember craft is not just for kids!
- Set some new year’s resolutions
Found the benefit to your new intentional use of your devices over Christmas? Sleeping better? More relaxed? Enjoying your daily phone-free walk? Connecting better with those around you? Valuing presence over the constant drive to be busy and productive? Why not resolve to establish and maintain some clear boundaries around your use of tech in your personal and professional life and start 2023 on the right foot.
So what are you waiting for? Get ready for Christmas now! And no not just the shopping – in the run up to the festive season start to experiment with your technology habits, switch off at the end of the day, take a tech-free walk in the daylight. Setting these boundaries now will help you start to wind down, so you’re better prepared to down tools, switch off and recharge your batteries once the Christmas really begins.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year from Shine Offline x
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