It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like…Thanksgiving?

It’s beginning to look a lot like…Thanksgiving? 

It’s hard to believe, but the fall has been speeding by. And while it might not have been a typical autumn around here, we hope that you’ve all been doing well, keeping busy, and gotten a chance to enjoy some of the glorious weather we’ve been having.

Is it just me, though, or does it feel like it was August only last week? As days and weeks blend into one another, it can be hard to remember what day it is, let alone what assignments are on the calendar. Maybe you’re feeling frustrated and out of sync? Or maybe you’re just feeling really worn out. I hear you! This time of year can be really exhausting. But before you give in and google “how do bears hibernate?” let me offer a few suggestions on making the last few weeks of this year a little bit brighter. 

Whether school is all virtual, hybrid, or in-person, as the days grow shorter and the wind turns cold, it can feel hard to do anything other than hunker down for a long winter’s nap. Here’s where routine becomes your friend. Make a plan and stick to it, even when you’re not really feeling it, and you’ll often find that it’s just what you needed.  Whether it’s on paper or a white board or even on your phone, having an actual written schedule makes it feel more formal. It helps you organize your time in a way that just thinking about having a routine doesn’t. If it’s on your routine, then that’s what you’re doing. If you get distracted, look at the schedule. What are you meant to be doing? Then jump back into your next task. 

Your routine can also help you keep your eye on things that are a little bit further off. If you know that your college applications are due on January 15, put that date on your calendar. But also write down all the other “due” dates that might be happening. When do your teachers or counselors need things for letters of recommendation? Do you have some scholarships that also need applications or essays at the same time? Then make sure, as you build your routine, that those things are getting scheduled too. 

Don’t forget to schedule some fun while you’re at it. Any good routine needs to have some balance. So be sure to build in things that are fun and relaxing too. Stage a virtual “cheesy holiday movie” watching night with friends. Bake a tray of your favorite cookies. Facetime your grandma. Learn the latest internet dance sensation. No routine is complete without fun too.

While you’re scheduling your fun time, try to schedule some of that fun outdoors. Spending time outside is helpful for lots of reasons. Obviously getting some fresh air and exercise is never a bad thing. Even just taking a walk outside at lunchtime or playing a few rounds of fetch with your dog is great. But being outside helps in other ways too. Getting sunlight on those eyeballs helps your body know when to wake up in the morning and when to go to sleep at night. It’ll help you feel more motivated throughout the day and it cuts back on that feeling of cabin fever that can set in after you spend a couple of days all cooped up. So, even if it gets a little chilly, break out your favorite scarf and mittens and go make a snow angel or two one day. Walk around your neighborhood and see who’s put up festive lights already. Or head out to some nearby hiking trails and see what the landscape looks like at a time you might not usually see it. I guarantee it’ll make you feel a bit warmer inside, even if your nose gets a little chilly. 

Speaking of warmth, and since it’s the thankfulness season, what are you grateful for? While Thanksgiving is, indeed, just around the corner, gratitude isn’t just for a Thursday afternoon over some turkey and mashed potatoes. This year, maybe more than before, it’s important to spend more time on things that make you feel gratitude. Studies have consistently shown that people who pay attention to things that they’re grateful for are overwhelmingly happier and more connected to the world around them. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. Here’s your challenge: For the rest of the year, make some time every day to write down three things you’re grateful for. Actually write them down. They don’t have to be big; small things are just as good. Maybe you felt really grateful for your wool socks because your feet stayed warm while you were outside. Or maybe your teacher did a silly song and dance on your class Zoom call. Maybe you got a chance to spend the whole afternoon reading a new book or the sunset looked really bright and cool. Soon you’ll find yourself looking for the things you’re going to write down – watching for gratitude. 

More than gratitude, though, keep a close hold on your spirit of generosity this season. That doesn’t just mean sharing the remote with your sister or offering your mom half your pumpkin scone. It can, of course, I’m sure your mom would love to share that scone you’ve got there. But you can also be generous in so many other ways. If your dad reminds you for what feels like the hundredth time about the deadline for an application or assignment, being generous can be remembering that he’s just looking out for you and fighting the urge to roll your eyes. Being generous can be donating to a food shelf, of course, but it can also be going out of your way to smile and say thank you to a grocery store worker who helps you. It can mean giving some extra time to a friend or family member who’s feeling down or standing up for a person who needs it. If you want a real challenge? This season, practice being generous with yourself too. It can be so much harder to offer generosity to  yourself than it is to offer it to others. Whether you forget your homework or bomb a test, shrink your favorite sweater in the wash or say something that makes you feel foolish, cut yourself some slack. Be as generous and kind to yourself as you would be to someone you loved, because 2020 really needs us all at our best.

I hope that the end of this year is full of joy and fun, cold, crisp days in the sunshine and afternoons piled with cozy blankets. We’re thankful for you, Homeworks community. And we wish you the warmest holiday season.

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