A woman wearing a beanie kneeling behind a cube with her upper torso leaning over the block

The holiday season often feels to me like an overfilled plate at Thanksgiving. There is thing upon thing piled high and almost toppling over. Sweet with savory, vegetables and casseroles, bread and meat. A beautiful mashup of a celebration, but too much of a good thing can leave you overstuffed and undernourished. 

And so it is with piling on the holidays into an already busy work season for most of us. We want one more scoop of what looks so good, or we feel obligated to try out our Aunt’s dish. Desire and obligation, on repeat, end up making our plates too full—leaving us with an unrealistic serving for one person to manage.

Desire and obligation, on repeat, end up making our plates too full.

The holidays—without boundaries around them—can feel like taking on too many hours in the work week, hours that you weren’t budgeting for and that you frankly may not have the energy for. Then, we miss the magic and the beauty of what could be a time to reflect and connect with others because we are carrying a plate that is too full.

Too much of anything can deplete us, limiting our ability to be productive when we need to be or to enjoy ourselves when we try to. If we don’t rest, like that plate that is too full, what was meant to be a good experience will just end up feeling like too much.


Here’s how to you pursue rest during the work week in a season that adds so much more to our plates:

Less isn’t more. It’s better.

The popular phrase that “less is more” is so overused that it can lose its meaning. The reality is that just like an overfilled plate, an overfilled week can leave you feeling exhausted before you even begin. Less to do, less pressure and fewer commitments can give you the energy to enjoy the things you want to engage in.

Less to do, less pressure and fewer commitments can give you energy to enjoy the things you want to engage in.

Less isn’t just more. It allows you to have the energy and the time to truly enjoy what you choose to spend your hours on.

Your boundaries matter.

The family obligations that come with the holidays, although likely quite different this year with the pandemic, must be filtered through what is not only possible, but realistic for you. The holidays are ironically a time when many of us abandon our care of ourselves and the things that ground us most. Your family traditions and obligations and your socializing with friends must be sifted through what is good for you and what you can sustain for the season.

You have permission to not overcommit.

Speaking of boundaries, one of the biggest ways to practice those limits on your time is by not overcommitting. Tell the people in your life that you are trying to seek more rest and balance this season. Therefore, you may not be able to be a part of everything you’d like to be. You might be surprised by how much permission this can give others in your life to do the same.

Tell the people in your life that you are trying to seek more rest and balance this season.

Seek nourishment, not overwhelm.

What is meant to be a good experience, can quickly become an overwhelming one when it is too much. This year in particular, you are likely heading into the holiday season more worn down than before.

The line between what is nourishing and what is overwhelming is often a matter of amount or significance. If the amount of something is too much, no matter how excited you were, you will be left worn out. If the emotional significance of something is tenuous at best, your limited energy during the work week will feel depleted by it. 

The line between what is nourishing and what is overwhelming is often a matter of amount or significance.

Reflect and connect.

When we see the twinkling lights of the holiday season, my guess is that we are moved by the warmth and the potential stillness they give off. We often pause when we see beautiful lights at night, and a pause may be just what we are needing. The holiday season, at its best, is a time to reflect on our lives and connect with what and who we love. If you have one rule of thumb to filter your commitments through, let it be through what will help you to make time for your life and what will allow you to connect with those most important to you. 

If your plate is already too full this holiday season, or getting too full fast, remember you don’t have to finish everything on your plate! Just like a plate that you you may have overfilled, you can choose what to finish and what to leave.

When you remember that less is better, your boundaries matter and that reflection and real connection nourish your soul, you can sift through your commitments. You can choose rest not overwhelm, allowing you to enjoy and not just endure this holiday.

How do your set boundaries between work and career during the busyness of the holiday season? What are practical ways in which you can create margin?

Image via Rus Anson, Darling Issue 10

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