Make your Holiday Break Worthwhile

Wrapping presents, attending Christmas programs, juggling multiple holiday traditions and expectations—it can be exhausting! But it doesn’t have to be. Make sure you evaluate the activities that are most important for you to attend and try to remember that the real reason for the holidays has nothing to do with rushing around at a breakneck pace. In order to get the most out of your holiday break, try these other tips as well.

1. Start a new fitness routine.

It’s never been easier to ditch the gym and the couch at the same time. Gym enthusiasts and couch potatoes alike can take advantage of free and cheap fitness apps to create a new habit. The secret? The shorter, the better. It’s better to start with five minutes a day than with an hour. You’ll likely start to find excuses to miss the hour-long routine, but it’s hard to say you don’t have enough time or energy for five or ten minutes!

2. Get some much-needed rest.

Take advantage of your holiday break by getting some much-needed sleep! Many of us plan so many activities that we don’t get the rest we need. This defeats the whole point of a break. Go to bed early and wake up when you’re rested (if possible). Or, if that sounds impossible, take a few cat naps, aka power naps. You’ll find that if you take a fifteen-minute nap before company arrives, you’ll feel so much more buoyant and alive!

3. Actually take a real holiday break.

This pairs nicely with getting extra sleep. Actually take a REAL break! Don’t bring your work home with you during the holiday break. When you bring work home with you, you rob the future version of yourself of the energy and clarity that comes after a good rest. Life is not all about work (though our society wants us to believe that it is). Life is about life, and your work should help you facilitate life. If not, find ways, however small, to set new work boundaries and work toward a more balanced and healthier existence.

Why not start now? Make sure you work ahead on deadlines, set out-of-office responders, and alert coworkers and supervisors that you are going to be spending time with your family.

4. See the dentist.

Breaks are a great time for some much-needed self-care. Your teeth and gums are a great place to start! The medical community is becoming more and more aware of the impact your oral health has on your entire body, so book a dental appointment today. (Hint: The earlier you start, the more likely you are to secure a time that works for you).

There’s nothing like clean teeth during your holiday break to discourage you from eating too many sugary treats!

5. Improve your oral routine.

Are you one of the 33% of millennials who only brushes their teeth once a day? The longevity of your teeth depends, at least in part, on how well and how often you brush and floss your teeth (as well as how well you balance sugar in your diet).

A proper oral routine includes brushing and flossing twice a day. Make sure you brush for two minutes, not 30 seconds! We recommend a brush that spins to maximize every second and get your pearly whites as polished as possible. You’ll feel much better and reduce inflammation, not to mention you’ll have fresher breath for the mistletoe!

6. Reassess your life goals.

Where are you going in life? Is it where you want to go?

These simple questions are an amazing way to kickstart an honest conversation with yourself about the choices you’re making (subconsciously or not). Many people are afraid to go after their dreams because they fear big change or don’t want to rock the boat, or maybe even because they are afraid that when they get what they want, it won’t be enough. A good way to move toward a better life is to take small steps in the direction of your dreams. Small steps create fewer repercussions than giant ones and are often more effective over time. One reason for this is that giant changes, no matter how positive, often create a lot of fallout that you have to deal with on a logistical and emotional level.

There are plenty of paper planners on today’s market that will help you create goals while on holiday break, and break them down into small, doable action items! Check out Panda Planner, Passion Planner, or the Dave Ramsey Goal Tracker.

7. Ditch the New Year’s resolutions and start a new habit today.

Instead of waking up on New Year’s morning and starting a list of resolutions,, start one new habit now that positively impacts your life and follows the life goals you just finished assessing. Research shows that being honest with yourself about your personal dreams and breaking them down into tiny, bite-sized steps is far more effective than scrambling to reform yourself every January 1st.

The once-a-year panic is the reason gyms get more signups in January than any other month. But sadly, the ellipticals are often mostly empty by February.

Stop the madness. Pick an at-home routine you can commit to. Or try a few different fitness classes or studios until you find the one right for you. Paying per class is a good way to stay out of hard-to-cancel contracts; only sign up for a gym or studio after being sure it’s a close distance to your house, has classes and hours that fit your schedule, and is a style of fitness that’s right for you.

The same works for other areas of life. Get up five minutes earlier instead of a whole hour. Walk for one block instead of ten. Cut one unhealthy food item out of your diet by replacing it with something still pleasurable but healthy (it’s possible to be both!). Volunteer in an area in which you’d like a career and set more clear goals at your place of work. These little changes pay big dividends!

8. Take time for yourself.

Enjoy some quiet time in a cafe with a good book. A yoga class is also good to join during your break. A walk on city streets or in nature is also worth doing. Whatever the method, time alone is important to rest and recharge your brain. Time for yourself also gives you a chance to reflect on your choices and responses in life. The only way to hear your inner voice is to actually spend time listening.

9. Change your spending habits.

The holidays are the perfect time to give to causes that connect with you. And we’ve never had so many to choose from. In this time of carols and gift-wrapping, make sure you remember others for whom the holidays might not be such a warm and happy time. Operation Christmas Child is a great way to give a Christmas present to children in need, and Spirit of Christmas is Ada’s own gift-giving program that’s close to home. There are also local volunteer events that can make Christmas a much happier time for others. Another way to find opportunities is to look at your local library, church, school, or community center.

While we’re encouraging you to give more, we’re also encouraging you to save more. There are numerous apps on the market today that can help with the complexities of modern finances. Albert manages your finances automatically behind the scenes, nudging you toward better habits by tracking your overall spending behavior and giving you polite suggestions on where to cut back. It also sneaks money safely away into a savings account for you (if you turn on that feature); in a way, many have reported they don’t even notice the missing money. Albert Genius can help with your budget or even negotiate a lower bill for you.

Digit is another app that withdraws discreet amounts at frequent intervals and places them into a savings account for you, encouraging people who don’t take an active role in investing to do so on a consistent basis.

Simple Bank is an incredible online bank account that helps you divide your money into expenses, goals, and a “safe-to-spend” category. It’s a good alternative to those who want to take a more active role in their finances, though it can be used in combination with either of the two apps above.

Why not set up a fund for Christmas right now? You can decide how much you want to spend on gifts, personal and medical care, and events and start saving toward that amount today. Having the money you need set aside will be one more reason to smile during your holiday break.