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The holidays are in full swing and there are 12 days left until Christmas. Depending on your line of work, you may be extremely busy, or the holidays may be a time to rest and relax. The holidays are definitely the busiest time of year for me. At work there are endless opportunities to chase after overtime hours, and even if you don’t plan to work overtime, longer hours are still unavoidable. Add the stress of the season and other types of everyday stress, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

In fact, I fell ill last week and spent the weekend in bed, as well as taking a sick day on Monday. I was unhappy that catching a cold meant I had to give up productivity for the weekend (even missing the chance to work extra hours on Sunday), but I made a quick recovery. When I began to feel better, I noticed a lot of sick and unhappy co-workers who didn’t take time to rest.

So here are a few tips for the holidays:

Take care of yourself. Remember work and trying to buy presents for everyone on your list isn’t all there is to the holidays. Aim for least 7 hours of sleep per night. It may be tempting to be more productive by sleeping fewer hours, but your body will suffer as a result.

Think about if working long hours per week (70-100) is really the best thing for you. I’m not going to tell you how to earn your own money, but again life is not work. Even if you love your job, it is important to take breaks. If getting to Christmas is the goal, think about how you’ll feel when the day arrives. Will you be well rested and happy to see family and friends, or will you be a tired mess? Taking time for yourself gives you an opportunity to rest and recharge rather than slowly suffering.

If you’re in an industry that does not give you the opportunity to have many days off (such as retail), maximize your free time. Spread tasks over periods of time off, so you can actually use some free time to relax. Try not to do too much on your days off.

The holidays are supposed to be a time filled with good cheer. If you feel crushed by the holidays, there’s no harm in putting on a cheesy Christmas movie, a favorite song, or decorating your living space or work space.

The end of the year is also a great time to reflect. Sometimes looking back, instead of feeling anxious about the present or future can also have a calming effect. What went right for the year? What makes you grateful?

 

How do you get through the holiday crush?

Christmas 2014 by Gunilla G of Flickr

Christmas 2014 by Gunilla G of Flickr

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I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. The holidays are here already and the year is nearly over. How time flies!

A few weeks ago my Sunday started off on a bad note. A friend notified me that my long running website had been hacked. It was redirecting visitors to a page filled with malware. Since I was attending church that morning, I had to wait an agonizing four hours until I could actually address the issue. Once I returned home, I did a scan of the site and found all of the areas infected by malware. (Thankfully, Damage Control was not part of the hack.) I had backups of the site and could just purge the malware and put the site back up, but that wouldn’t address the issue of how it was hacked. So I decided to pull the site down and leave it down for several months with a note of apology to visitors.

The hack came at the start of the busy season at UPS, which meant I wouldn’t be able to take off from work to fix the site properly until January. I decided to turn the hack into a positive event. I had long wanted a chance to modernize the site and move it away from the old HTML 1.0 website that I had coded by hand almost 20 years ago. Taking everything down and having to fully recode would give my website the update it needed. The process of building websites is a difficult one, but immensely enjoyable. Earlier this year I attempted to help Karen update the layout for Epic Careering. While the project wasn’t completed, I had fun with the attempt.

When I put up the notice about the website being taken down, I was touched by the outpouring of support I received from friends on social media. The offers to build something new, joint projects, and even a Spanish language version of the site were amazing. Once I start work on the site, I know it will be a great project, especially with friends willing to help me.

Sometimes an event can look awful on the surface, but a new opportunity can arise. Have you ever found opportunity in a seemly difficult situation?

My Powerbook 5300 by Lance Nishihira of Flickr

My Powerbook 5300 by Lance Nishihira of Flickr. Also, the web looked like this when I first built my site.

 

Recently, I got back into reading novels in paperback form. To be honest, I haven’t read a novel in several years. The last book I read was on a tablet (H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine). While I have quite a few eBooks, I’ve made very little time to read them. Out of curiosity, I checked on the status of The Sholan Alliance, a book series penned by Lisanne Norman, which I have been reading since 2003. The penultimate book in the series was released in 2010, and I wondered if I had missed picking up the last book since it had been seven years. Amazingly, I had chosen the right moment to look. The final book, Circle’s End, finally came out in September of this year and I purchased it without a second thought. I read the book on my lunch breaks at work and it felt good to read fiction on paper. As informative as reading the news via phone is, sometimes it’s nice to escape somewhere else even if only for a half hour per day.

Letting my imagination soar was a fantastic experience. It was more enjoyable than watching videos, going on social media, or playing video games. While other entertainment is fun, there’s just something special about paper books. There’s no buffer time while waiting for a video to load, no frustration from the latest events on social media, and I don’t have to find a save point like in a video game when it is time return to work. In short, reading fiction may have kicked started something I haven’t done in a long while and I realized how much I missed reading fiction.

Now that I’m finished with the nearly 500 page book, I may have to find something else to read while on my lunch break. Momentum and interest are on my side, and it seems like a good time to pick up the novels I told myself I would return to someday.

 

Do you enjoy reading fiction? If so, what catches your attention?

Summer Read by LWYang of Flickr

Summer Read by LWYang of Flickr

The plan to give my house a winter cleaning was mostly successful. I started cleaning on Friday afternoon before work and then returned to finish the job on Saturday. It was a tough task because some chores literally hadn’t been done since moving into this duplex two years ago. I began cleaning around 4PM and didn’t finish until 11PM that evening. I was so tired that I ended up taking the following morning off from church. The only regret I had was not being able to clean my storage room. Everything else went well. Amusingly, working with expanding foam makes for an interesting experience since it is very sticky. I still have areas of foam I need to trim, but I’ll do so at my leisure in the future. At the end of the day, it felt good to scratch some long overdue chores off my list.

The following weekend was spent in the opposite manner. I decided I needed a long rest, so I spent Saturday sleeping in and recovering. I also took some time to get started on some Halloween themed video games for the weekend. On Sunday, I managed to balance light chores (food shopping and cooking) with a day of video games. I started playing on and off around 4:30PM and didn’t call it a night until after 4AM (which is close to my weekday working hours). It’s rare that I have a long gaming session and it felt nice.

Sometimes you just need to take some off for yourself and do whatever it is you enjoy, without worry or stress– taking that time off feels even better after accomplishing a few major tasks.

 

How do you unwind after finishing a big personal project?

DualShock 3 by Joey of Flickr

DualShock 3 by Joey of Flickr

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