We can all admit: this year has been, for lack of a word, wild. With the holiday season on the brink, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the usual mayhem of gift-giving and gathering while still grinding at work. But with COVID-19 cases at an all-time high and stress levels continuing to skyrocket; I think now, more than ever, we all need to create more time for play.

Spending time alone can be the best way to clear your mind, nourish your body, and tap into your inner creativity,” Antonia Hall, psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life, tells Bustle. “Spending quality time with friends and family is a healthy, life-enriching thing to do, but making time just for yourself is just as important.”

If you are scheduling Zoom dates and Thanksgiving dinners then you should be blocking out time in your calendar for yourself. We are less inclined to pour into ourselves and thus, those gentle, written reminders can go a long way. I’ve always had a tendency to play by the slogan, “work hard, play hard”, which puts me at the risk for overdrive in either direction. Making time to chill in my workday, even if just for 15 minutes, has been transformative.

Still not convinced? Keep reading to find out about the importance of play for adults and how you can revel in this holiday season.

Make Plans

Whether it’s your kids, a gazillion emails, or the news, distractions are everywhere. To hold yourself accountable for taking time away from everyday life, create time blocks in your schedule. You might think color-coding your Gmail Calendar is for professional spread sheet-ers (a profession in my book) but they’re actually perfect for us free spirits too.

You might be wondering what you should actually plan for and what’s so wonderful is that it’s completely up to you. Take an hour and sit down with a pen, paper, and your favorite drink. Think about your values and activities you really enjoy doing. It could be hiking outside, cooking a decadent dinner, watching a foreign film, reading a feel-good book, or doing yoga on your deck. There is no right or wrong answer here.

Pro tip: add more time than you think you’ll need and don’t skip meal blocks!

Prioritize

Boundaries are a big aspect of sticking to your priorities. When it comes to asks from people, I have a hard time not leading with guilt. A few weeks ago, I was talking to my therapist about filtering requests. She told me to ask myself two questions: Do I want to do this? Do I need to do this? It’s been life-changing.

To hold myself accountable, my go-to resource is the Full Focus Planner. One of my favorite aspects of its workflow is The Daily Big 3. This aspect of the planner compels you to list the most important activities you want to accomplish in your day. By identifying your top priorities, you protect yourself from being distracted by other necessary tasks.

Digital Detox

I think there’s been a societal shift around our phones. It’s as if we think they control us. We say that our phones are interfering with our lives and causing harm to our mental health. But the truth is, we actively choose to use our phones. We have complete ownership over how we interact with them and how often we use them. We cause the interference and the harm.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your phone, curate an experience tailored to your needs or just plain take a break. Be mindful of how often you unlock it, filter out your social media feeds, adjust your home screen, or turn off notifications. Even just a few small changes can enhance your experience.

Say Yes More

I’ve always been a ‘yes girl’. Seizing opportunities, forging ahead with grit, raising my threshold higher and higher–these are acts that have propelled me to new, exciting terrain. But there is only so much time in a day, there is only so much energy in a girl. What goes up will come down.

With a go, go, go mentality, I’m not really into saying ‘no’. Thus, I’ve had to reframe how I look at my response. In reality, by saying ‘no’ to one thing, I’m actually saying ‘yes’ to another thing. By telling my friend that I can’t talk on the phone, I’m saying ‘yes’ to a bath, a quiet walk with my dog, or extra time to write.

Actually Rest

Since when did rest become an activity? It’s as if we’ve turned the word into yet another task that has to be pretty and has to get done. However, rest does not require a checkmark. It can literally be sitting on your couch, lying in some grass, or taking a nap. Give yourself some grace and chill.

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