How to slow down during the Christmas rush


We’re in the homestretch of 2023 and for a lot of people this still often means catching up with all the things we told ourselves we would do for the year. That can leave you feeling exhausted and stressed looking at those resolutions you haven’t crossed off your list yet. (That’s why it made more sense to set intentions, as author Chinggay Labrador advised us last year.)

According to research, almost 4 out of 10 people surveyed revealed that their stress increased during the holiday season. It can be due to financial pressures (“How do I stretch this 13th month?”), social gatherings (more people asking why you’re still single, married but without kids, no ‘stable job,’ etc.) gift-giving (How do I give everyone in the barkada and the office a gift?), and a feeling that there’s not enough time (“December na?!”). 

There are ways, however, to prepare ourselves for this increased stress and rush of the holidays. It might be the homestretch, but let’s remember that it isn’t a race. 

1. You can’t do it all.

In a previous interview with Common Room’s Roma Agsunod, while she was pregnant during lockdown and had to go on bed rest, she still had to work on some projects, including the sticker slam book, the Common Room Ayala Bay branch being transformed as a collab store with DTI GoLokal, and the pop-up space in SM Aura. Because the business was struggling, she couldn’t afford to say no to the opportunities being offered to Common Room.

“The only reason I was able to do all of those things, it’s not just because of our organizational skills, it’s because I have my team with me,” Roma shares. “A mom who’s able to juggle everything and the only reason she’s able to do all these things is because of the people around her.”

Whether you’re married, single, with kids, without kids, there are times when you have to humbly admit to yourself that it’s okay if you can’t do it all. This can mean prioritizing the most important activities for the season and being able to say no to the rest. And when you know you won’t be able to do everything on your plate, remind yourself that it’s okay to ask for help. Which leads us to this…  

2. If you want to do a lot, learn to delegate.

This means we need to learn to ask for help. This isn’t always the easiest thing for many people. There are many reasons why it can be hard to ask for help. You don’t want to be a burden or you think asking for help will show people you’re weak.

Try not to make an assumption that asking for help will only be taken in a negative way. As Psychology Today advised, you can be clear and specific about your request and try not to look at seeking help as a weakness. 

When Roma was trying to cope with pandemic-related business travails and several projects on top of being a new mom, she only said yes to opportunities that she knew she could delegate. She advises, “If you really have to be the one to do it, you have to say no if you really can’t do it.”

3. Accept life’s cycle (like plants!).

Life always follows a cycle. If you caught Roma and Maan’s #PlantitaLife video, Maan talks about how plants have their own life cycles. “We cannot prevent leaves from turning yellow or from withering because they have their own life cycle,” says Maan.

It’s good to remind ourselves that like plants, we also have our own life cycles. There’s a time when we’re blooming and a time when we get all wilted because we’re not getting what we need. There’s a time to hustle and a time to rest. Pay attention to your body. Check to see if you need to take a rest, get unstuck, or go on a digital detox.

4. Take the leap.

When we talk about taking a leap, it’s usually doing something with some risk involved. For sisters Pau and Gabbie Javier, setting up their pottery business Wabi-Sabi Studio during the pandemic was an opportunity they wanted to take even if many businesses were struggling at the time. “You don’t know what’s going to happen next, why not do it now?” says Pau in their Meet the Maker interview on the Common Room PH channel. “While the world was on pause, we took that opportunity to build something in silence.” 

At this time, while the world is hurtling towards what’s next and finishing strong, doesn’t it make sense to pause? The risk is in not doing anything—especially if you’re a freelancer, wherein slowing down during the holidays may mean not having enough to pay for bills in January. Balancing what’s practical and what your mental health needs are always a challenge. You don’t have to go all out, ‘F#@% this [insert job, project,  here]!’ and treat the last few weeks of the year as one long holiday to hibernate (unless you can afford it, sana all!). But do take a leap of faith, no matter how small. Whether it means figuring out what you want to do next or just taking a weekday off to find creative inspiration, as somebody once said, when you leap, you will “either land somewhere new or learn to fly.”

5. Take a look back.

Another way we can slow down is to take a look back at the year that was. For those who journal, you can simply flip through the pages of the past months. Artist, crafter and journaling enthusiast Nica Cosio showed us last year how journaling has always helped her end the year happy and grateful

“As the year ends there’s this feeling like, ‘Oh my God, the year is ending! What did I do? Did I meet all my goals?’ Most of the time that definitely doesn’t happen,” Nica shares. But every time she looks through the journal that she has put together, she realizes something. “That even if I didn’t meet all the goals, so many good things happened. A lot of times there are more good things than bad. My journals show me that. I’ve written it all down. I told my stories in my pages.” For Nica, and for all of us who need reminding, when you look back you often see how far you’ve come, which makes it easier to be more hopeful for the year that will be.

Written by Mabel David-Pilar
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications, including fashion, shelter, and food titles and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created to celebrate fermenting in the Philippines.