The holidays might be known as the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s no secret that December often feels like the most overwhelming month of the year too.
Travel plans, Christmas shopping, and the anticipation of the upcoming new year all make the holidays special, but can also create challenges.
For many of us, the holidays are especially stressful, as it’s a time where we reunite with relatives and run the risk of easily losing track of our time and finances.
To ease the difficulty of managing this time of the year, we’re sharing a few tips with the help of blogger and planning enthusiast Connie, and PhD student Catherine, who is especially passionate about journaling for mental health.
These tips can easily be adapted for your existing journaling routine, or implemented by newcomers to the world of journals and planners.
1. Make lists
One downside of the holidays is that there are so many important things that one can lose track of — especially for those of us who don’t keep lists.
“I love making lists (as well as journaling), and I think that list-making can be a great way to stay grounded during the next few months,” PhD student Catherine tells us. “Whether the lists are about your purchases, gifts, or holiday activities, it will help make things feel less chaotic!”
Connie agrees: “Lists come in handy, especially for mindful shopping,” she tells us, adding that she personally prefers a “master to do list and a monthly calendar for all the events, birthdays, and anniversaries (we have many in our family). From gifts to menus and a bucket list, this insert keeps my holidays organized and happy.”
To be more organised, ensure that your lists are kept in one place, such as a dedicated section of your journal or planner, or a designated notebook.
2. Personalize your planner or journal in advance
“The holidays are my favorite time of year. The weather has turned crisp, the decorations are up, and the shops are alive with beautiful gift ideas. From family gatherings to the tree and presents, it’s a joyous time,” Connie, a blogger and planner enthusiast, tells The Washi Tape Shop.
“To keep the chaos at bay and truly enjoy the moments, I create a Christmas Planner TN insert from @papertessdesings. I would be lost without this insert!”
Other methods of personalising your planner or journal include drafting spreads that meet your needs for the holidays. This is best done in advance, as Connie recommends: “To enjoy this time, I plan my social media content for December in advance. I stock my BAO bag with all the beautiful kits and stamps I’ll need for my December journal spreads. Fountain pens are inked and ready to go.”
3. Always prioritise your mental health
The busy year-end period and the emotions involved in reuniting with distant relatives can be stressful. As a PhD student who will be familiar with the pressures of a jam-packed schedule, Catherine emphasises the importance of protecting one’s mental health. This principle is particularly important during the holiday season.
“The holiday season can be full of good memories (and ones we want to avoid),” Catherine says, adding, “and journaling can help us to processes our emotions.” To focus on your mental health, consider quickly jotting down your thoughts and feelings, or take your time to write down fuller, more reflective accounts of your emotions.
4. Remember to practice gratitude
Beyond keeping a log of our feelings, it can also be helpful to remember the reasons we have to feel grateful.
“The one habit that keeps me centered throughout all the excitement is gratitude journaling,” Connie says. Gratitude journaling can be as simple as making a quick daily log of what we appreciate in life.
“I try to write my gratitude daily; it lifts my spirit and reminds me of what’s important. I capture some of the silliest and most important moments of the holidays in this journal, a quiet respite that always leaves a smile on my face. It also teaches me to be present, truly take in the splendor of the holidays.”