Musicians: how to ace the holidays

Did you overdo it with the turkey, the pumpkin pie, and the relatives? Because it’s not over: the rest of the seasonal craziness is here. And you may also be stressed with holiday gigs and end of semester teaching. To help, here are my top survival tips—how to ace the holiday season.

Last week we covered Gratitude as the ultimate re-set button. And here are 3 additional ways you can minimize your holiday stress. Let’s end 2019 without the burnout so you can set yourself up for success in 2020.

To start . . .

#1 Designate “me” time

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, pressured, and worried, it can seem impossible to take time for yourself. I get it.

But the reality is, when you slack off on self-care, that’s exactly when you’re likely to get sick and then be out of commission for a week. Not the good way to go.

It’s counter-intuitive, but just 10 minutes each morning of meditation or yoga can make a world of difference. Claiming that little bit of time for yourself every morning can change the outcome of the rest of the week. In the same way, going to bed on time, and packing a healthy snack or lunch you can take with you—these ‘small’ self-care habits can pay back enormous dividends.

Having consistent self-care habits is about investing in yourself and your quality of life. It’s about self-respect and building a healthy sense of self-worth.

Bottom line: you need to first take care of yourself before you can truly deliver for others. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Make a commitment to one healthy self-care habit you can consistently do every day this month.

To stay centered and healthy all through the season I also recommend you . . .

#2 Get your pre-week game planning on

I know, a lot of musicians resist using any kind of time management system. Many musicians are ‘allergic’ to planning. They may feel like schedules hinder their creativity.

And at this time of year, you may feel desperate just getting through the day, so the thought of extra planning may seem laughable.

But here’s what I’ve found really helps de-escalate stress. I spend a short amount of time, just 5-10 minutes every Sunday evening looking over the week’s schedule and writing down my ‘game plan’ for the week.

How does this work?

You may already use a planner and calendar. I love my Productivity Planner and use Google calendar with it. Perhaps you also use the Pomodoro Technique when you’ve got tasks that bring up lots of Resistance. All of that’s great.

But it’s not enough.

I’ve found that unless I look ahead to plan for the coming week or month’s deadlines and special appointments, I’m sunk. It’s too easy to be thrown off track by deadlines I’d lost track of, or extra errands or appointments I need to fit in.

For me, the weekly ‘looking ahead time’ on Sundays is essential. When I see the upcoming week’s “extras” I can designate time for them. That way, I avoid the panic of a grant deadline I lost track of or an important email I failed to respond to.

The weekly planning date with yourself can help you sleep better knowing you’ve got a workable plan for longer-term projects.

But it’s not enough to have a working plan. To live a good life we also need to . . .

#3 Identify the delight

Every day brings opportunities to experience moments of beauty, kindness, and silliness, wonder, and joy. No matter where we find ourselves, we all have these moments of invitation that can spark delight.

The thing is to be present and awake to them so that they actually register. So we can experience the good stuff. Otherwise we’re slogging through life as though it’s just one big to-do list. Been there, done that.

But that’s no way to live!

Remember, this is the season of gratitude, and that means noticing who and what is all around you to be delighted by and grateful for.

I hope you’ll use these tips for How to ace the holiday season. Here’s to your happy and healthy end of the year.

BONUS: In terms of dealing with holiday family gatherings, these can be extra-stressful. So here’s a favorite Tools article to help you cope.

To gain more career insights and inspiration, join our supportive community, our FREE Musicians Making It Facebook group. We’d love to have you!

Here’s to your forward motion,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

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