Novemberfeature

10 Ways to Take Advantage of November Downtime

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It seems to be more and more common to see the spooky season and Halloween decorations go down and the Christmas and holiday season glitter and glitz immediately take its place.

I know. The holidays and Christmas are busy times. We need to get ready for all the responsibilities of the season. There is work to do. Gifts to buy. There are reconnections with family and friends to make. There are events to plan. No time to waste.

Just stop.

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Check out what’s happening in the night sky this month. There’s always a reason to look at the moon and stars. Image: Rick Tate

I love both the Halloween and Christmas seasons, but I discovered this weird thing between the two called November… and it has “take a breather” written all over it.

I’m not even talking about Thanksgiving yet, for those who celebrate. Just November. Just the peaceful, downtime of fall between whatever big events you had or have going in October and December.

Last year, I posted an article, “My November Calm Before the Christmas Storm,” but I really wanted to expand on it a little more, since I get a bit anxious when I don’t have some project or goal.  More and more, I am realizing the importance of just taking it easy. Here are ten ways to enjoy the calm between the storms this month.

1. Go outside. Walk around (or drive) and look at the fall trees… without taking pictures. We live in a social media frenzy where everything cool needs to be on Instagram or Facebook. Sometimes, a moment is better if it is just enjoyed while you’re there. Even if you live in a place where fall isn’t prominent, take some sort of quiet nature walk.

2. Sit down in the evening with a hot beverage and a cool book.

3. If you’re working on the computer, go to Google Maps, Apple Maps, HereWeGo, or whatever your preference is. Hit a site on your bucket list. Go to the “street view” option and just start walking. I’ve explored several places on my own and with my family. It is a great way to get lost for a bit.

google
A walk down historic York thanks to Google Maps’ street view. Screengrab from Google Maps.

4. Cook or go enjoy a meal that has nothing to do with the holiday season. Now is the time to try something that is completely different than the meals you are planning. This goes for desserts, as well. You won’t be short on holiday fare soon, so don’t overdo it too early.

5. Call a friend or loved one before the holidays hit, and just have a fun “no obligations” conversation. This is something we always forget to do when there is no special occasion involved.

6. Find an old movie you overlooked but always wanted to see. Hopefully, this will be one not set during the holiday season.

7. Take the opportunity to clean out your car, pantry, or fridge. I know this doesn’t seem restful, but sometimes cleaning out something that’s “out of sight, out of mind” is therapeutic. We always concentrate on decorating spaces; sometimes plain old cleaning gets neglected. Take advantage of getting rid of what you don’t need, before the shopping time hits.

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Get out and build a small fire. Gather the family. Relax. Image: Lisa Tate

8. Build a little fire. Find a place to go sit in front of something cozy, be it a fire pit or little tabletop chiminea. It is amazing what that can do for your stress levels in the evening.

9. Look up what is in the night sky for November, and try to find it. According to some online almanacs, the moon will be near several planets this month. This might entail simply walking into your yard or driving a short distance, but the night sky is always worth it.

Finally, since it is almost impossible for some of us to not think about responsibilities during the holiday season, try this:

10. Make some lists in writing. People with planning natures are always putting together everything they need to do in their heads. It is hard to escape your own mind. Sit down and write down what you need to do, and just get it out of your system. It is actually pretty calming to put all my to-dos on paper and keep it in a place where I can walk away from it but find it if I need it.

Trust me, the Christmas and holiday season madness will come soon enough. You don’t have to dive right in yet. Take some time to reset.

For me now, that’s what November is all about.

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