How to unplug during the holidays & focus on what brings you joy

The holidays. They’re automatically wholesome, full of so much forced goodness and generosity that you can’t help but half-smile when your favorite Christmas song plays on the radio – until it starts playing on a loop in your head when you’re trying to fall asleep. Thank u, next, except with AG’s holiday album.

For most of us, the holidays are a time to relax and unplug – whether from school, work, the news, your nosy landlord, or the unending barrage of spam emails flooding your inbox (anyone else get unreasonably stressed out when you hit “unsubscribe” for, like, the trillionth time and YOU STILL get the emails?! Just me?). 

You go home, you hang with family, you try to avoid bringing up politics with grandma. 

Maybe you trade your laptop for an apron and a spatula and stuff your face with as much gingerbread and whipped cream and wine (maybe not in that order) as you possibly can, because it’s about to be a new year, anyways, and calories have ceased to exist. 

Maybe you even throw on Home Alone 2 and force-cuddle your dog on the couch. All the good things. 

This year? We needed the holidays. They’re a little weird, sure. In order to go home, I’m going to wait in line at a community COVID testing site to get a swab stuck way up my nose, then fill out some paperwork, wait for my results, and drive three hours over one state line. 

It’ll just be four of us this year: Me, my mom, my dad, and my (incredibly patient) boyfriend, all sitting by a semi-sad-looking Charlie Brown tree my mom’s neighbor chopped down from her own backyard. And my parents are divorced. Fun!

But I’m not complaining. Seriously. If anything, I’ve felt the holiday spirit more deeply in 2020 than ever before, and the main emotion driving it, I think, is hope – mixed with a heavy dose of gratitude

Hope, because we went through somewhere around two decades-worth of catastrophes in a single year, but we’re still okay. We’re moving forward. We may not have fully recovered yet, but we’re on the right path. 

All of the healthcare workers and medical researchers and activists and delivery drivers and educators in this country continue to prove that there’s still so much good in the world. Things can only get better from here. 

That said, I think we could all use a little extra kindness this holiday season. Obviously, kindness to others is most important – but we need to be kind to ourselves, too. Even if that means taking a break from those family members and loved ones for a few minutes, getting offline, and doing whatever feels good. 

Indulge in those self-care moments. Use up all the hot water for a bubble bath. Light some candles. Put on your favorite playlist. Throw your phone into the bathtub. Watch the screen ever-so-gradually fade to black and marvel at the incredible, off-grid journey you’ve just begun. 

KIDDING. Don’t do that last part. Here are a few, slightly more reasonable ways to unplug this holiday season and focus on the things that really do bring you joy. 

For the full experience, I recommend trying any of the below sans-electronics (but you do you). The goal here is that there is no goal, so just relax. Enjoy the little slice of nothing-to-do-ness that is the final two weeks of the year. You deserve it. 


10 self-care things to do this holiday season

1. Bake your favorite kind of cupcake for no reason. Put at least five or six in a Tupperware. Place them under your bed, or hide them in the bathroom, or in the garage. Enjoy them in peace, whenever the heck you feel like it. 

2. Buy a new vibrator, like this one. Use it liberally. 

3. Take a shower (or bath). Cover your entire body in this CBD-infused massage oil. Wrap yourself up in the thickest, most ridiculous-looking robe you can find. Drape yourself dramatically over the edge of your bed, Alexis Rose-style, and daydream about your next, post-pandemic vacation. 

4. Time to get creative! Break out the crayons or gel pens. Draw your (least favorite) ex getting (lightly!) trampled by a reindeer. 

5. Go on a $30 drugstore shopping spree. Try out a new product, like Flex Discs, or grab your favorite nail polish in a festive color. Or just stock up on those $4 sheet masks, a body scrub, and some scented lotion for an at-home spa day. 

6. Pour yourself a glass of whatever you’re craving, grab a deck of cards, and play solitaire. Or Klondike. Or build a house of cards (the thing, not the show). Teach yourself to shuffle a deck. If you have a fireplace, sit next to that. When you get bored, toast a marshmallow. 

7. Go snowshoeing. No snow where you live? Go regular-shoeing. Document the wildlife you encounter. 

8. Offer to cook dinner for your partner or a family member and then serve up a portion of spaghetti and syrup a-la-Elf, just to see their reaction. 

9. Perfect your shower vocals on the Mariah Carey classic, All I Want For Christmas Is You. 

10. Finish the book that’s been on your nightstand for the past six months. Journal about it – or don’t. Then reward yourself for all that hard work with another hour of Instagram scrolling. If you skipped the reading part, it’s okay. We promise not to tell!