Don't get me wrong — I love coming home for Christmas. I don't have to exclusively eat things that I personally have cooked (read: terrible tasting things); I get to sleep in; I get to re-live my bejeweled-bell-bottoms-plus-Uggs sartorial phase. It's great. But I am also someone who immediately goes crazy with too much free time. And then I get grumpy. And then I ruin things. Thus, to avoid ruining things year after year, I've created a sort of roadmap for keeping my sanity. Here are 10 ways to avoid cabin fever this holiday break, because there's no way I am the only human who struggles with max amounts of downtime. Right?
I think the main roadblock to my enjoyment of freedom is that I always feel a little stalled out, a little stagnant. I do a lot of sitting around and a lot of snacking and a lot of sleeping, and then I feel like I've wasted all this time — and even though it's free time, I still feel like I'm wasting it. I know — I'm a little "too much" sometimes.
But the key to avoiding all of the cabin fever blues feelings is to make a schedule. A schedule of fun! But still, like, a plan that you at least kind of stick to, that might yield some tangible accomplishments, or, at the very least, some good ol' fashioned soul searching. You ready? Let's kill this holiday free-time game.
1. Plan Ahead
I realize that most of you are probably home already, so this may be a little late, but whatever. Remember when you were little, your parents (might have) always packed, like, 100 activities for you if you were going on a trip? Do that to yourself. Be your own parent. My suitcase weighs 100 lbs. because I pack five books and my GRE study guides and a sketchpad and a journal and a notebook and a book of crossword puzzles. If you go into a holiday break with productive intentions, there's a good chance that you'll at least spend a portion of time not on your couch watching TV and going crazy.
2. Avoid Sleeping In
Yes, sleeping in is a wonderful thing. I get it. My natural sleep cycle is 10 to 11 hours because I'm part cat. But sleeping in until noon every day is a recipe for feeling lackluster and off, especially in the winter when the sun seems like it's already starting to set at noon. If your parents are still working, get up with them! If they're not, at least get up before 10 a.m.! Oh man, look at how much time you have to do stuff! Wow!
3. Go Outside. Every Day.
For 10 minutes at least. Preferably at least 30. Get some sun (even if it's gray and raining out, you'll still get a li'l Vitamin D), move your legs, look at you, achieving goals left and right, woah, you are walking so fast, oh my gosh are you JOGGING right now, you are on fire, get it, grrl.
4. Take Yourself to School
I don't mean literally to school (unless you're one of those people who enjoys visiting their old high school, in which case, Godspeed). I mean, utilize this free time for a little self-educating. Take some cues from New York Times writer and IG queen Suleika Jaouad, who is currently on a solo, 100-day roadtrip: "When I have a long driving day ahead I like to pretend I'm a student gearing up for school. Yesterday's class line up: 1 hour of Mary Oliver reciting poems via Literary Arts podcast, 2 hours of interviews with Ta-Nehisi Coates on Longform, 3 hours of the H is for Hawk audiobook by Helen McDonald and 2 hours of glorious day dreaming." Am I obsessed with this concept and also Suleika? Ohhh yeah. You bet.
5. Clean Your Room
Going through your old middle school and high school self's things is honestly like conducting an archeological dig sometimes. I found some, uh, weird stuff under my bed. Also, as someone who stopped growing at the age of 11 (I'm still bitter, and yeah, I'm about as short as you'd expect), I have all these clothes circa 2002 that still kind of fit. It's like thrifting, but for free. Capri pants are coming back. I am insisting upon it.
6. Reconnect with Old Pals
You are now old enough to legally buy drinks (probably) (if you're not, sorry) (but one day you will be, I promise). Go out, get some fancy cocktails, or wine, or hey, maybe rounds of shots are your thing. Just get out of all of your houses. Go be some real adults for a few hours to remind yourselves that when you're not visiting your parents, you are actual adults.
7. Be Your Own Tour Guide
Go visit some of your old "cool places." This is about to get sappy, but whatever, haters: Remembering who you were at 10 and at 16 and who you are now is a wonderful, complex, potentially even a little painful way to take stock of your year and your future. We're made up of so many little moments. We're survivors, regardless of how our lives have gone. Go seek out some of those little moments. Say hello to those old parts of you.
8. Get Crafty
Making something tangible is a great way of being like, "Here is a thing, that I am holding in my hand, that I created." Extra points for your crafts involving a lot of glitter. Bonus extra points if you gift it to someone else.
9. Beware the Holiday Bender
Existing on a diet of sugar cookies and alcohol is momentarily living the dream, and then very quickly turns into a nightmare, because it turns out that the human body needs more than cookies and cocktails to function. The connection between physically and mentally feeling good is a pretty clear one, dudes. Of course you should indulge, duh, it's the freaking holidays; I'm just saying maybe don't be constantly pounding Christmas ale and leftover mashed potatoes for, like, five days straight.
10. Be Alone
Being around your family in one house for a really long extended period of time can be draining, regardless of how much you love them. I am an extreme extrovert, and I still need some alone time during the holidays. Don't feel bad about asking for it. Go for a walk, go for a drive, go for a bike ride, live in that silence for a while. You made it through another year. That's pretty cool.