I don’t know about you, but I’m already starting to feel anxious about the holiday season. I went into a dollar store today in search of fall-themed goodies for a pre-k potluck my daughter’s class is having, and all of the Thanksgiving stuff was already gone — it was just Christmas decorations for as far as the eye could see. So then I started thinking about everything I need to get done in my life between now and the end of the year and wanted to just ditch my shopping cart and run away. While I know there are a lot of fun things in store for my family over the coming weeks, I can’t help but dread how much I’m going to have to be “on” at various social events that are all crammed into the new few months.

That’s why I know that for my own well-being I need to have a Chill Day very soon: a day where I’ve cleared my schedule in order to just let myself relax and breathe and think and be. If I don’t have a day like this before all the holiday craziness kicks into high gear, I might not survive — or at the very least, I’ll transform into the neighborhood Grinch.

If a Chill Day sounds up your alley, here are some things you might want to do with your time:

  1. Start (or revisit) a gratitude journal. Years ago, I picked a notebook to dedicate to jotting down 3-5 things I was thankful for every night before I went to sleep. I kept up with it for months … until my son was born. Every once and a while I’ll crack it open again and add more entries. I’ve decided that making myself feel bad about not doing it every day wasn’t going to help anything, so now I just keep it on my nightstand and write it in when the spirit moves me. But I know I’ll be spending some time on it during my Chill Day, because I think it will help me to ground myself with some perspective about all of the good things in life before being dragged kicking and screaming into the most nonstop hectic time of the year.
  2. Refuse to feel guilty. Busy people have a hard time taking a break. I personally feel like whenever I, say, read a magazine, I should be doing something more productive with my time. There are always things to pick up around the house. There are always emails I haven’t returned. There’s always work I could be getting ahead on. Etc, etc. BUT NO! Not on Chill Day! On Chill Day your main job IS TO CHILL and do almost nothing productive! It’s glorious.
  3. Get cozy in every way possible. Everyone has a different definition of comfort. But it usually involves a favorite spot in the house, a favorite snuggly outfit or pajamas, and some sort of warm food or drink. For me, it’s my flannel pajamas, my fluffy socks, my big white terrycloth robe, my bed and a canister filled with hot tea next to me on my nightstand, along with a stack of books and magazines I’ve been wanting to read forever. And a neck warmer. And some candles. And my phone OFF.
  4. Plan breaks. Huh? Didn’t I just say that almost nothing productive should be done on Chill Day? Yes I did. But this is where the “almost” comes in (and you can of course feel free to skip this one if you are not a planner): you’re simply spending a little time looking at your schedule between now and December 31 and planning at least one more break before 2020. It doesn’t have to be another full Chill Day if you can’t swing it, but you should try your hardest to schedule in a few hours of “mental recharging time” in order to ensure you have an opportunity to regroup in the midst of holiday parties, gift-buying, visitors, travel, and everything else that comes with the season.
  5. Spread the Chill. If I had my way, I’d basically be a hermit, so there is no chance that another human being is going to encroach upon my Chill Day. But I realize I am not normal, which is why I’m suggesting that you might want to consider: a) inviting someone else who’s also in need of a break over for at least part of your day, or b) encouraging someone else to take some time for themselves whenever they’re able. It is very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of this time of the year — be a good friend by telling someone else that it’s OK to bow out of all responsibilities for just one day … because hey, you did it!
  6. Escape (In Your Mind). Yeah, I know I mentioned running away earlier, but I’d never actually do it. (Never say never, Erika.) However, one of the best things about being a film critic is that I kinda sorta do get to escape for a few hours at a time at least once a week during movie screenings. If you pick the right movie, you can truly lose yourself in it, and if that’s not a way to mentally recharge, I don’t know what is. So on my Chill Day I’m going to plan to watch one of my old favorites that feels like home.

I refuse to wish anyone happy holidays just yet, but I will wish you a happy Chill Day now!

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