It has been a few years since the first time I went self-employed as a full time endeavor. It had been something I'd considered for awhile but I gave it due time and consideration because it was risky, scary and well outside of my comfort zone!
That being said, I absolutely love it but every time I get to the festive season, I remember how hard my first Christmas was working from home, all alone.
The thing is, and it's something many take for granted, when you are employed, a lot of festive joy is interlinked to work (hear me out!). Starting off with the simple things: you go to work in December and start talking about Christmas plans, Christmas activities you've taken part in already and the all important CHRISTMAS PARTY! On top of that, many offices will pop up some Christmas decorations, just to make things a little more fun and festive!
When you are self employed (or simply work from home) you might (like me in my first year) get to somewhere in December and realise that you aren't feeling very festive and that can make you feel low (which can be even more difficult if you are suffering from the Winter Blues).
So, as someone who is on the other side of this and feeling particularly festive at this time of year, I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks that work for me.
Make Sure You 'People' During Your Working Day
Yes, I am using 'people' as a verb. One of the most difficult things about working from home is that you spend a lot of time alone. Now, if like me, you are an introvert, this may sound like a joyful thing but unfortunately this isn't always the case. As humans (introvert or extrovert), we all need a certain amount of human interaction! The lack of human interaction can make us depressed and lonely (very much more so at Christmas-time) and when you work from home that can be a difficult balance. Luckily I have cheap/free solutions to bring some social interaction into your life!
Some of my favourite tools to use are websites which provide 'Virtual Work Buddies/Accountability Partners'. These essentially give you people online to work with for set periods of time. Generally you have a quick chat at the beginning of these sessions, during the session they are muted (or not) but you can see them working hard in a small window of your screen and at the end of the session you catch up to see how the session went. One of the genius things about these websites is that they are AMAZING for productivity because from a psychological point of view, seeing someone else working motivates us to work harder.
From a social point of view, it means you can get a nice amount of human interaction during the course of your day and that very much helps during the festive season when you are likely to feel more alone - especially if your buddy has a Christmas tree or similar in their background! Trust me, it makes a difference!
Make Christmas a Priority In Your Home Environment
If you've always previously enjoyed Christmas but are finding it a challenge now, there are ways to help! If you haven't got your decorations up, I promise just having a sparkly tree in the corner will make a world of difference, so make sure you have put a tree up at the very least. I am convinced fairy lights make life better as a whole, so the more the merrier when it comes to them too!
If you have a home office or desk space, give it a little Christmas love too or if you don't have that kind of room, change the background of your computer to a festive scene!
One of the joys of working from home is the fact that you can choose whatever background sounds you want and popping on some kind of festive playlist makes everything so much more joyful!
'Festive-Up' Your Viewing
Most of us watch some TV at some point during the day and instead of watching something dramatic (unless it really floats your boat) or a repeat, why not put on a corny festive flick? I will guarantee you that the overly decorated sets and pretty landscapes will warm your heart.
A bonus festive viewing option is 'ambient sound' videos on YouTube. You can get some gorgeous festive scenes like 'jazz cafes' and similar. Some will have background sounds of things like coffee shops, whilst others will be gently animated and either way, they are lovely to have on your TV or in a corner of your computer screen for some calming and pretty sounds and views to focus by. Here's a great example: Cozy Christmas Coffee Shop Ambience with Smooth Jazz Christmas Music, Crackling Fire, & Cafe Sounds.
Take Your Drinks Up A Notch
No, I don't mean with alcohol! But, using a festive mug, having a flavoured coffee or drinking hot chocolate for one of your drinks during your working day can make things feel 'cosy' and that much more enjoyable. I have two festive mugs and literally hide them away, outside of December, so by the time I get to use them again, I feel very excited! Chai tea works very well as a festive drink too, with lovely flavours of cinnamon, ginger and cardamom.
You May Not Have a Christmas Work Party Planned....
But there are other ways to enjoy celebrations during this time of year. You can make plans to go for special meals with friends and family (or host parties yourself) and many restaurants, pubs and other venues will offer Christmas menus. So book yourself in, take some crackers with you and create a yearly tradition.
I know that many social groups and business networking groups also run Christmas parties of different kinds, so they can be another great option to socialise, get merry and have some fun without having an employer create that aspect of your life.
Wear Your Favourite Festive or Glamourous Clothes
If you are employed, it's likely there is a dress code but if you are self employed and/or work from home, you have A LOT of freedom in terms of what you can wear. In December, maybe up the ante a little and put on your favourite smart outfits each day, or simply add a little extra jewellery and spend a little extra time making yourself look presentable.
A) This will generally make you feel really really good and B) This will certainly make you feel more festive - especially if you decide that every day is Wear a Christmas Jumper To Work day!
Give Yourself Permission to Have Fun During the Working Day
When you work alone, it's likely that you won't have the kind of nice or fun distractions during the working day that you'd have at work. This means that it's a good idea to create some of your own because you can only focus constructively for set periods of time so maybe give some thought to what you can do to break up your day with some enjoyment, like:
Read a few pages of a festive book during your break times (and it's okay to have 15 minute breaks in the morning and afternoon AS WELL as lunch because most people in employment would easily spend that long chatting or wandering around.
Spend some time writing Christmas cards, sending texts or contacting friends and family in different ways. This time of year it is extra important to connect with loved ones and spending time doing a little of that during the day will benefit you.
Look online for festive quizzes and spend a little time doing them yourself.
Look at some festive things you can do locally - going to Christmas markets and craft fairs can make you feel wonderfully festive!
If you have some snow where you are - go for a walk, sledge or build a snowman!
Okay this isn't just about being festive (though seeing decorations out and about is always lovely) but moving your body and getting some daylight are really important ways for balancing out your mood and make a HUGE difference at this time of year, so if you aren't feeling festive and are feeling generally low make an effort to go for a walk at least once a day for at least 20 minutes.
Finally there are many smells that we associate with Christmas and this time of year as a whole and filling your home with them is such a wonderful thing. Candles smelling or fir trees, cinnamon or even cookies will soon brighten up your environment and senses. If you are organised, you can also put food in your slow cooker or in the oven to cook whilst you work and again fill your home with warm, Christmas-scented goodness.
We often associate memories with scents, so smelling something that you used to associate with Christmas time, can make you feel so much more Christmassy now.
Many of us can end up thinking that working by ourselves can be a lonely and isolating way of existing and without realising there are certain elements of working with other people that we end up missing. I am here to tell you that you can take matters into your own hands and yes, your life may be different because you work from home but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy Christmas time with plenty of excitement, enthusiasm and joy!