The Blog.

10 Days of Rest

15 Dec 2014 | Being Human, Work Life Rhythm

Are you ready for Christmas yet?

This is probably the most common question I get at this time of the year. From friends, family, and complete strangers.

What does that even mean? Ready for what? Ready for all those presents you’ve painstakingly picked, bought and wrapped to be stripped in two minutes flat? Ready to gorge yourself silly on the best homemade stuffing to rival all stuffings, and then spend the afternoon in a food coma? Ready to celebrate? Ready to enjoy? Ready to collapse? Or all of the above?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I do sometimes wonder if it brings out the crazy do-it-all perfectionist in us.

Someone in one of my recent workshops summed this up perfectly, when we were talking about project names, and I suggested renaming Project Christmas to Enjoy Christmas, to remind us of what we actually want the outcome to be.

“There’s so much pressure to do everything… and it all has to be done to perfection, but if your outcome is to enjoy Christmas, then you only do the things that contribute towards you actually enjoying Christmas, and take everything else off the list.”

It’s the little things…

For example, my son surprised us this year by asking if we could get the old artificial Christmas tree out of the loft, instead of buying a real one.

His reason: “I really love putting it up, and it reminds me of the sweet smell of Christmas!”

“What, plastic?” I asked.


Kids. You couldn’t make it up!

Of course I’d much rather the sweet smell of Christmas my kids remember to be pine, cinnamon and freshly baked cookies, rather than plastic. But actually, if it means one less trip and queuing in the cold, one less thing to buy – and instead, watching my two babies put the tree up pretty much by themselves and having a whale of a time, who am I to argue?

What would “Enjoy Christmas” look like to you? Here’s I think the real question:

How do you want to feel this Christmas?

Maybe your ideal Christmas is full of bright lights and crazy fun at all the big events. Or maybe it’s warm and cosy with lots of cuddles.

For me, the one thing I really want to feel this Christmas is rested.

For as many years as I can remember, I’ve sported the Rudolph look with a pack of Kleenex at Christmas after running round like a mad thing and coming screeching to a halt in the early hours of Christmas morning. I get to Christmas ready to drop, and I do enjoy the day, but it goes far too quickly and I spend the week after recovering.

And even though November was my crazy busy month, truthfully I’ve had more late nights and less sleep in December. Why? Because I’ve paid less attention to rest, because I didn’t need to. I had far less travelling in the diary, no silly early starts, and no workshops or speaking engagements where I had to be on form. But plenty of other projects to keep me busy. So my bed time has crept over to the other side of midnight again.

December was supposed to be my quieter month, but instead it’s been my tired, grumpy and under the weather month so far.

Enough. With ten days to go till Christmas, I’ve decided to do what feels like the craziest challenge:

10 Days of Rest. From now until Christmas.

Yes, it’s the busiest time of the year. I have plenty of work to finish off before the kids break up from school. Hubby’s got university deadlines. And we’re still building flat pack furniture for our 5 year old’s bedroom after our trip to Ikea this weekend.

Yes, it’s usually the time when we don’t have time for rest. But a sobering thought my midwife friend told me the other day made me think that’s precisely why we need it: statistically there are more stillbirths at Christmas, probably because in the busyness it’s harder to notice changes in baby’s movements.

To answer the question at the start of this post, no I’m not ready for Christmas, but I will be. I will be ready, and I will be rested.

So here’s what I’m going to do. For the next ten days I’m going to aim to do one thing during the day that gives me rest. It might be a 10 minute screen-free break, a power nap, or my favourite indulgence: reading a book. And the biggie – I’m going to be in bed before 11pm.

I know that may not sound early to some, but considering my average bed time in December has been closer to 1am, every step in the right direction is progress!

But I need your help. I need your support, your encouragement, your ideas and most of all I need you to hold me accountable. I’d like to ask you to do two things:

1. Share with me your favourite ideas for creating rest – either for during the day, or for getting a good night’s sleep.

2. Watch me. No, not literally as I sleep – that would just be weird. Follow my progress on Facebook or Twitter and hold me accountable. Comment or like to let me know you’re watching – because I know then I have to follow through!

And if you you could do with getting to Christmas feeling rested, and fancy joining me on this crazy challenge, post your updates too on my Facebook page or tag me on Twitter and we can challenge and encourage each other 🙂

Are you up for the challenge?


  1. Gaelle by the sea

    I could not agree more. Usually December is quite stressful and I got to this year emotionally challenged (losing my dad), catching up with events that were booked beforehand, and wanting to do many things myself instead of going into the high street. how am I doing? Well, I was wrapping presents last night whilst watching one of my favourite films “the holiday” with paper that I made a few weeks backs and handmade ribbon. Anything that did not sell at Xmas fairs I did is now being used and I love it. I also went to workshops every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons with the Inspiring Women Network. 2 hours each time on soap making, chocolate sweets, steam Xmas pudding, wet and needle felting, book binding… you get the idea. They had a creche, my little one loved it and I really enjoyed all but one. In a way it was more in my diary but it was a way to force myself to stop and enjoy myself.
    It takes effort to come out of the rat race. It takes even more effort to not feel bad about it but I found that having a coffee or tea and read the magazine “the simple things” with it’s beautiful images and writing may simply help you being in the moment. that’s it, be in the moment and enjoy or rest. Enjoying something can be restful if it is different to what you normally do.
    Your blog is the one I always read feeling someone thinks like me. Well done and I wish you a very happy and restful Xmas. x Gaelle by the sea

    • Grace Marshall

      It takes effort to come out of the rat race. It takes even more effort to not feel bad about it – that’s so true Gaelle. Your Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons sound lovely, and yes booking them into the diary are a sure fire way of making them happen! Enjoying something is definitely restful – I’ve found sometimes even taking my time over a really nice cup of tea can be restful 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience Gaelle, lots of food for thought here. Have a wonderful Christmas too x

  2. Richard Tubb

    Grace – a really thought provoking post and very timely. I think there is a tendency for many of us to try and cram everything in around Christmas – whether it be those professional projects we want to wrap up before the end of year, or accepting invitations to celebrate with friends – or both! We inevitable end up burnt out.

    In early December I found myself hospitalised and had an enforced week of rest. The ill health ended up being a gift! Being physically unable to do much, the pressure was off and I found that I was more relaxed and when I returned to work, more realistic over what I could achieve.

    Thanks for all your great content and blog posts this year Grace, and I’ll look forward to supporting you on your own 10 days of rest! 🙂

    • Grace Marshall

      Absolutely. One of the baby steps I did in the name of rest today was to postpone something I had in the diary, instead of trying to cram it in before Christmas. Admittedly it was also in light of a last minute opportunity to pitch a big proposal, but in an effort not to let sleep be the thing that drops off the list, I’m actively making choices to take things off the list.

      Yikes – scary stuff with being hospitalised, but glad you found a hidden blessing in your enforced week of rest!

      Big thanks for all your encouragement and comments Richard, it’s been a pleasure sharing thoughts and ideas with you 🙂

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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