2020 has been rough.
That’s an understatement. 2020 has been one hell of a year. With COVID going all across the country, lockdowns, doing work/school from home, not to mention the general uncertainty, it’s a strange time to enter the holiday season. School is currently wrapping up for me. I have 2 more weeks of classes and then a week of exams before I get to fully rest up and recover from the 14 weeks of Fall 2020.
When it comes to winter breaks of the past, I would go home and lay around. There were some things I intended to do but never quite fulfilled for myself. Maybe pick up some new books, practice piano and learn a song, get to bed earlier, just stop consuming so much content. But all of that would fall to the wayside as I got home and picked up the old habits in that environment. After a few weeks of not doing what I set out to do, I would give up and tell myself that winter break was short and I could return to my habits once I got back to school.
This winter break is different.
This winter break is 2 months long, so it’s essentially like summer break in high school. I remember those breaks and I would spend my summers reading, going to piano lessons, but also watching way too much Netflix. Over quarantine when I was taking classes and doing an internship at home, I revamped my habits. I started getting up earlier, making myself breakfast, reading more, and having a quiet time.
In an ideal world, I would not be going home for such a long while after a short semester, but these are unprecedented times, and we need to make the best of them.
*waving my arms around grandly*
And so I present to you a method of classifying your life and making some goals in order to take this holiday season by storm.
I know what you’re thinking. Believe me, I know. You’re thinking about how rough this year has been and how you’re tired of making goals that are unattainable because of all the pain this year has brought.
I want you to be open.
I want you to listen in and decide for yourself what the next step is for you. Maybe you do need to sit this holiday season out and rest. Maybe, like me, you need a guide to get you going before you step into winter break without a plan of how you will stay grounded. Just listen closely and take what you need.
A week ago, a spiritual director came to talk to IV about planning for winter break, and this post is inspired by her idea.
Step 1: Get a sheet of paper and a pen, make a big circle, put your name in the middle, and write down 3 values you have.
Your values can be community, family, solitude, authenticity, growth, etc. Whatever your values are, write them down. Identify what matters to you. Or at the very least what you think matters to you.
For me, I value connection, I value self-discipline, and I value recognition.
Step 2: In each corner, write Mind, Body, Emotion, and Spirit.
Now consider some of the things that are going on in your life right now concerning each category. When it comes to your mind, do you feel like you’re gaining a lot of knowledge? Are you stretching your mind? Are you enthusiastic about the tv shows you’re consuming?
Write your simple goals down. For me, I’m feeling tired of school and learning, but I also know that I’ve been neglecting reading. I just finished Crime and Punishment, but now I want to make a plan to read some new books. One of my goals is to read 7 books. I have 8 weeks, so I know I can make this happen.
An important thing to consider – “Those who work with the minds should relax by working with their hands. Those who work with their hands should relax by working with their minds.” Not sure where the origin of this quote is but it’s profound. If you spend all day crunching numbers, maybe you want to get outside more. If you do physical labor, maybe you want to listen to a podcast and relax by the fire.
Another goal I have is to get back on my podcast grind. Now that I walk way less than I used to, not to mention I’ve been having some headaches behind my ears, I haven’t been listening to podcasts much. I definitely want to listen to 5 a week and have a rotation of my favorites because I feel SO BEHIND on listening to them.
If you’re like me, you started out quarantine thinking you were going to become this incredible new person who actually stuck to an exercise routine (kudos to the college students who prioritize their health). Maybe don’t expect too much of yourself this time around. Because of the holiday season and our time spent inside, try not to feel guilty about eating more. Instead, enjoy nourishing your body.
Pick an accountability buddy and do your workouts together via Zoom or layer up to go a long walk social distanced style. Maybe you just want to commit to getting up once an hour and stretching in order to avoid sitting at your desk for hours. Maybe you want to do nightly yoga. Whatever it is, write it down!
My goal is to have a solid sleep schedule. For real this time. I want to go to bed by 11 and wake up by 6 or 7. I want some consistency and to train myself to get off of technology late at night for a good read. My only exception to late night technology is podcasts only because Welcome to NightVale is made for listening at night. But not 3 in the morning. I just also want to move my body a little bit everyday. One day that looks like a walk, the next day it looks like a HIIT routine. Just mixing it up as long as I keep moving.
I know what you’re thinking. What in the world is emotion doing on this list? I think it’s easy to consider what we consume when it comes to our minds and the way we treat our bodies. I think it’s a little harder to address emotions. For me, I thought about this category in terms of what is life giving. What lifts me up? Back to my values, community. As much as I am the worst texter ever, I love communicating with my friends. I love being face to face with them, drinking tea, trading book references, laughing at memes, just living life together. One of my goals is to check in more. Write down someone I’m thinking of and check in with them either later that day or that week.
I think it would also be a good idea if you’re struggling with this category to do an emotion tracker. Maybe on a piece of paper each day has 3 boxes and at 3 points during the day, you stop and ask yourself how you’re feeling. You can use a color to express emotion or write a word down. Hopefully, later on, you’ll be able to know when you had a good day and what caused you to feel good as opposed to drained.
Don’t get too lost in this one. Just check in with yourself and find what works for you. It could be that you try therapy or journaling. Take steps towards caring for yourself and your emotional health.
It doesn’t matter if you’re spiritual or not, I think this category is open to anyone. For me, my spiritual life is my faith. How connected am I to God? Am I reading my Bible regularly? Am I praying? Am I in religious community? Am I going to church consistently? Side note: weirdly enough, this semester, I have probably been going to church more consistently than I’ve ever had in a long time. Part of that is COVID is making me cherish it more, and part of it is that I finally found a church in Cville that I really love.
For you, this could be spending time in silence. This could be disconnecting with social media once a week. Maybe you want to have dinner with your family and check in with one another. Maybe this is your time to dive into meditation. Or starting that gratitude journal you’ve always said you would try.
A practice that really embodies this blog is reflection. While I’ve said that this blog is for me to write down my experiences and share what I’ve learned with others, ultimately that is a form of reflection. Emily P. Freeman, who I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog, every Sunday she has a weekly reflection post on Instagram. She reflects on the musings of her week, what brought her joy, what brought her low, what reminded her of something she had forgotten. I would love to do a future blog post on this actually. In the near future, perhaps. We miss so many things when we don’t take time to pause and look back before moving forward. I highly recommend you reflect when you can.
*dances around now embarrassingly but it’s too late to turn back*
We’ve reached the end of this REALLY long blog post.
I hope it was helpful and clear. Remember, friends, take what you need. You don’t have to tackle all four categories at once. Start with what comes easiest and build off of that. It’s more important to be consistent than to dabble in everything.
Keep safe and healthy! I’m sending lots of virtual hugs your way!!
Got any winter break plans? Let me know in the comments below.