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How to Rest Without Feeling Guilty This Holiday Season

December 15, 2021

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Rest without feeling guilty

With the holidays right around the corner, you might already be feeling that sneaky sense of guilt that comes with taking time off. Or worse, you might be seeking ways to “get out of it”–to work from your parents’ kitchen table, take client calls in the airport, or ditch holiday gatherings early to squeeze in just a little more work before the new year. Even beyond the holiday season, you might struggle to rest without feel guilty.

If this is you, step away from your Google Calendar! You deserve to rest without feeling guilty this holiday season. Here’s how.

Why We Feel Guilty About Taking Breaks

Our sense of “rest guilt” can most often be traced back to hustle culture. We’re fed images of people our age working nonstop, climbing the ladder, and living “the life” on TV, social media, and beyond. When work is all anyone talks about, it can feel like you’re falling behind when you take a step back.

If you work with clients or a team, there’s also pressure (often self-inflicted) to show up for them. You might be afraid of disappointing your clients or leaving your team without a leader. But the strongest, most sustainable businesses are built to allow for rest, both for you and the people you work with. You’re human, after all!

How to Know If You Need More Rest

If you’re even questioning whether or not you need more rest, the answer is probably yes. One in three US adults doesn’t get enough sleep, and nearly half spend five to six hours on their phones every day. That means we’re not only neglecting our sleep, but we’re also not participating in restful activities during our waking hours. In short, we’re burning out!

Some signs you be in the majority of adults who need more rest:

  • You have an irregular sleep schedule, either sleeping too little or too much.

  • You have a hard time falling asleep at night because it feels like your mind is always racing.

  • You have irregular eating habits, maybe eating out of boredom or forgetting to eat altogether.

  • You often feel sick, achey, or just physically exhausted.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to start implementing more rest into your everyday life. There’s no better time to start than the holidays!

Rest without feeling guilty

How to Rest Without Feeling Guilty Over the Holidays

Grab your comfiest pajamas and pour some hot cocoa. Here are my top five tips for getting some rest without feeling guilty during the holiday season.

Set Your Business Up For Success

As a solopreneur, it can feel like your business is always one bad day away from total collapse. And even with a team, you might feel pressure to be on all the time, to be constantly available to put out fires. 

The key to easing that anxiety and guilt is creating systems that allow your business to function without you. These systems might look like…

  • A CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) to send invoices, schedule meetings, and manage client communication automatically.

  • SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) that your team can turn to when they have questions about a process in your business.

  • Financial tracking to automatically process and categorize your transactions.

  • An OBM (Online Business Manager) who can handle the admin work for you when you need to take a step back.

Unfortunately, things happen. These systems are designed to keep the necessary parts of your business running smoothly no matter what. They’ve been invaluable in my business, and they’ve been truly life changing for many of my self care coaching clients.

Communicate Your Needs

Much of our “rest guilt” stems from the feeling that others are depending on us and that, by taking a step back, we’re going to let those people down. “What if I miss an email? What if they run into a problem? What if I’m not there when they need me most?” These fears are real, but unless you’re in a truly life-or-death field of work, you always have the power to create the space you need for rest.

Whether you manage a team or you’re a solopreneur, it’s always a good idea to communicate your plans for a break with the people you work alongside. This might mean your contractors, employees, or even clients–basically anyone who might feel the need to text, call, or email you during your break. Send them an email outlining which days you’ll be out of the office, and provide an opportunity for them to ask their burning questions before you check out for the holidays. You’ll feel less stressed about your break, and your clients will feel respected because you kept them in the loop.

Plan Activities You’re Excited About

Rest doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. There are plenty of restful activities you can enjoy during the holiday season. And if you’re genuinely excited about those activities, you’ll be less likely to skip them.

Need some ideas? Here are a few restful activities I’ve planned for the holiday season:

  • Walking through the local neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights and decorations.

  • Baking holiday treats for my friends and family.

  • Treating myself to a facial to combat dry winter skin.

  • Checking out some winter reads from the library.

  • Dancing around my apartment to Christmas music at every opportunity.

When in doubt, call up a friend! Plan a night in to drink wine, watch a Christmas movie, and just relax.

Step Away From Social Media

A major factor in “resting guilt” is social pressure, and that pressure is strongest on social media. It’s hard to feel good about taking a break when everyone on your feed is hustling through the holidays and posting about next year’s goals. No wonder social media has such a negative impact on our self-esteem!

If you really want to minimize guilt and comparisonitis during your holiday break, step away from social media. Give yourself permission to ignore Instagram for a week and just enjoy the here and now. If you’re worried about your audience dropping off (which, trust me, they won’t after just a week), share a post about why you’re taking time off during the holidays and encourage your audience to do the same. And chances are, your audience also struggles to rest without feeling guilty. That kind of authenticity has gone a long way with my audience, and I’m sure it will with yours, too. And chances are, your audience also struggles to rest without feeling guilty.

And if you’re really struggling to create distance with your devices, check out my free digital detox guide.

Embrace the Season

Historically, humans didn’t work during the winter. Instead, we hunkered down, kept warm, and survived off the fruits of our labor throughout the rest of the year. There’s even evidence that our earliest ancestors may have hibernated to survive the cold season!

All that to say, you don’t have to feel guilty about taking a break in the winter time. It’s pure human nature. And more than that, it’s necessary to our health and happiness throughout the rest of the year.

In her book “Wintering,” Katherine May writes about how “radical” the concept of slowing down and reflecting is in today’s hustle-obsessed world. But she also speaks to how essential this period is, to how people all over the world spend their winters resting, recovering, and seeking refuge from the colder parts of life.

So embrace winter! Don’t think of your holiday break as some inconvenient obligation. Treat is as an opportunity to relax and rest without guilt.

Want to incorporate more rest and self care into your daily routine?

Check out my 28-Day Romanticize Your Life Challenge. It will help you get out of autopilot, experience the present, and craft a life you genuinely love living. And if you’re constantly struggling for time, check out my Time-Freedom Blueprint to finally learn to switch off guilt-free and put yourself first.

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