How to Prioritize Time to Paint & Journal During the Busiest Time of the Year

You’re gonna think I’m weird, but I consider the start of the holiday season to be in October. I’m NOT talking about Christmas, but all things celebrating autumn and Thanksgiving and then merging into the Christmas celebration and finishing with New Year’s.

In the past, I used to be consumed with the doing of the season.

I was trying to create the perfect Thanksgiving, Christmas and other festive events. That meant a lot of busy work. In the middle of all that, I lost the joy and wonder of the season. Part of that loss was that I let go of all the slowing down, the savoring, the fun things that make celebrating the season so special.

Hurry and Busy are two reasons we lose the wonder of Christmas. I started to wonder, how can I get those back?

Keeping creative practices is one way to cultivate wonder and decrease stress.  It’s hard to hurry through a watercolor painting. It’s possible, but it ends up messing things up with muddied colors and blurred illustrations. Much better to follow the rhythm of the medium and enjoy the process.

Spending time “slowing down” to paint or work on a few journal pages slows ME down, my thoughts, my heart, my breathing, my attitude. It slows down my thoughts and my mind. When I get up, I’m often calmer.

Plus, making time for painting and journaling during the holidays is also a great way to finish projects that have been delayed or forgotten about which the achiever in me loves. I love finishing the year with finished projects!

These days, the holiday season is still super busy (whose isn’t, right?), but I’m learning to move to a different rhythm, a rhythm that is intentionally not hurried.

Some days during the season I do better than others. Some seasons are better than others overall. But no matter what the circumstances of the holiday season, there are ways to slow down and savor it so much more than my previous lets-try-and-do-it-all approach.

One of the ways I’ve slowed down the season is by adding in intentional times of creativity. Sometimes I take an online class, letting someone else guide me in lessons (similar to the one I’m offering this season). Sometimes I made a goal and sat down at my art desk a few times a week for a short period of time, perhaps only 15 or 20 minutes.

Sometimes I worked on a project for those bits of time throughout the season and other times I did different smaller things such as making Christmas cards, sewing needlepoint designs on dishtowels, making candles or working on a joyful journaling project.

So….if you feel like you’ve lost the wonder and are spending more time doing than being, here are some ideas to re-introduce creative fun into your life. You’ll be thankful for it and everyone who’s around you will be thankful too. We are so much fun when we’re doing something besides work!

Start with walks. There’s something about walking that calms me down, physically and mentally. They don’t have to be long, but at least fifteen minutes is really good. It’s a great way to notice the colors and changes going on in nature, in storefronts, in seasonal clothing, etc.

Set aside time on your calendar. I know, scheduling time for fun seems to go against the idea of fun. In the past, I was not a big scheduler of fun. But that was the problem. I schedule what’s a priority to me, whether the priority is spending time with someone dear, volunteering or a work commitment. Since fun and relaxation wasn’t worthy of being put on the schedule, it not only wasn’t scheduled, those fun and celebratory moments I longed for didn’t happen. If we have trouble doing the creative pursuits we desire, putting time on our calendars might be the way to get back to doing some fun stuff.  Right now, I’m creating a joyful journal filled with paper, photos and ephemera from this year’s France and Belgium trip. I have a few evenings set aside to work on it and complete them.

Set deadlines, with a lot of grace. I know this goes against the idea of creative play, but a deadline helps me stay focused and not get sidetracked looking at washi tape or doing laundry, etc.  In regards to the Joyful Journal project noted above, my goal is to complete it in 3-5 evening sessions, scheduled throughout the next few weeks. There’s a joy to completing a project and a loss of momentum when it drags on too long. To keep me going, putting in deadlines full of grace is helpful. We can change those deadlines to give ourselves more time if needed! The deadline is setting a boundary, but it isn’t supposed to be rigid.

Schedule time with others. I have a dear friend and we get together a few times a year for an evening of catch up and working on projects for a few hours. Each time I leave refreshed and usually, I’ve learned something new from her.

Change up what you do, where you do it or who you do it with. Sometimes changing things up revs up creativity. Whether it’s changing paint mediums or going to a group event, these things can help increase the desire and commitment to getting to our creative play. One new thing I did this year was going to a weekend retreat where all we did was work on projects (and eat and talk!). It was so fun and got me out of my routine and comfort zone. You don’t have to get away for a weekend though.

What about you? What creative ways do you schedule playtime? Are these ideas inspiring you to schedule time for creative fun? I hope so.

Let me know in the comments or connect with me on Instagram @melissa_auclair.

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