December 2016 Wrap Up

​Quote from the end of November's wrap-up post: "I'm ready to get lots of shit done in December, and to be done with all these health problems. Here's hoping!"

Famous last words, folks.​ Famous last words.


December 2016

On The Site — December 2016

The first post on the site this month was a look at some "life advice" that seems prevalent at this time of year, what with everyone getting wrapped up in the "new year, new me" notion. So I tackled the encouragement to "live each day as if it were your last", looked at why that's awful advice, and suggested a much better alternative. ('Cause I don't know about you, but my last day would probably be spent crying in a corner.)

After that I wanted to discuss something that often gets swept under the rug at this time of year -- the winter blues. We can sometimes get so caught up in the fun and festivities that we forget not everyone is celebrating. So I did a lot of research and came up with 14 ways you can survive the season if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or if you just find the dark days and long list of things to do and buy to be a bit of a downer.

Then I shared something that's affected me personally -- being a minimalist at Christmas. Christmas 2015 was a very stressful time for me. It was the first year I'd embraced minimalism, and I found the subsequent stuffing of my home to be incredibly overwhelming and stressful. It meant I didn't enjoy the holidays as much as I had previously, and it was a worry I carried forward into this year. Thankfully, because I knew what to expect, I was a little more prepared this time around, so I shared the ways I'd managed to make space for Christmas in this minimalist heart of mine. 

Then, full of New Year spirit, I ran a flash promotion on my e-course, the Productivity Power-Up and welcomed new students into the world of increased productivity. I can't wait to hear their stories of how the course is changing their lives! (I've already heard from the very first student who enrolled way back in April when it first launched that she's planning to re-take the course in 2017! Best thing about it? She won't have to pay a single extra cent 'cause, once you sign up, it's yours forever. Hurray!)

Click the pic to be taken to the post.​

'Live each day as if it were your last' is bad advice. Here's what to do instead (no more endless swan song):

Why "Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last" Is Terrible Advice

14 easy & effective ways to beat the winter blues | Seasonal affective disorder treatment | Light box therapy | Seasonal depression | Winter depression

14 Easy & Effective Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

Minimalist Christmas | Simplifying Xmas | Minimalism | Simplify

How To Have Yourself A Minimalist Christmas

Minimalist Christmas | Simplifying Xmas | Minimalism | Simplify

The "Productivity Power-Up" e-course

I also launched the very first "HowToGYST Christmas Challenge" -- 25 days of quick tips via email to help you enjoy stress-free festivities. It was a huge success, and I loved hearing how helpful you were finding it, as well as your Christmas movie recommendations. (I even managed to convert one of you to "Die Hard". Ha ha.) The Christmas cracker jokes, in particular, were a huge hit. I'm really looking forward to doing it all again next year! (If you participated, first of all, thank you! Second, look out for an email from me soon asking for your feedback so I can make next year's even bigger and better.)

On YouTube — December 2016

Unless you're an incredibly laid back person, Christmas is bound to bring some stress. There are growing to-do lists, gifts to purchase, bills to pay, rooms to decorate, and mouths to feed. In fact, I've re-dubbed it Stressmas. BUT there are a number of things you can do to ease your burden and lower your blood pressure. I compiled some of my top tips for you.

Then I covered a topic that had been highly requested -- New Year's resolutions, setting them and sticking to them. I even threw in a free worksheet you can print and fill out to keep yourself on track. (You'll find the link to it in the description box below the video on YouTube.)

Then, as things started to get more hectic, I uploaded a video on taking some of the pressure off yourself. This is a question I often ask myself when I feel my days are starting to get a little intense, and it really helps me to sleep more soundly and wake up feeling a lot less stressed.

Finally, just for funsies, I did the Christmas tag, where I answered some holiday-related questions, like my favourite festive food, drink, song, movie, activity... and where I showed you the latest addition to my Christmas jumper collection! It's my new favourite!

Click the pic to be taken to the video.​

Post-Natal Depression: My Struggle with the Baby Blues

10 Ways To Reduce Stress This Christmas

Finding Motivation: The Hack I Use To Get Motivated FAST

Setting & Sticking To New Year's Resolutions (Free Worksheet) I AM VERY BUSY Agenda Flip-Through & Review

How To Do Less, Achieve More With One Simple Question I AM VERY BUSY Agenda Flip-Through & Review

The Christmas Tag / Festive Favourites, December 2016

And can we talk about the fact that the channel hit 10,000 subscribers and half a million views?! GOB.SMACKED. I can't thank you all enough for your support.

I'm aiming for 50,000 subscribers in 2017. Help me make it happen?

August 2016

AND my husband bought me uber editing software, Final Cut Pro, for Christmas so shit's about to get SERIOUS(ly better edited).​ Love him! It'll take me a few weeks to get the hang of it, I'm sure, so bear with me while I learn the ins and outs of going pro!

Social Media Stats — December 2016

  • Facebook: over 2,300 'likes'. Honestly, the Facebook page isn't growing NEARLY as much as I'd like. A very slow burn. Doesn't help that I'm comparing myself to so many others whose Facebook pages seem to have blown up overnight. *sigh*
  • Twitter: over 750 followers. No growth at all, really, which is comparative to the amount of time I spend on Twitter.
  • Instagram: 1,100 followers. I don't post all that much so never expect huge gains here. Still seeing pretty consistent growth though.
  • Pinterest: over 3,800 followers. Growth starting to slow down over here, but I find that's usually the case over Christmas. It's still my top referrer by a long way.
  • Newsletter: over 900 subscribers now. Another area of consistent growth.

HowToGYST HQ (AKA home) — December 2016

​December, like so many months before it, was blighted with health issues. It started with a lot of broken sleep. Scout was suffering from a bad cough and general crankiness, so was up several times in the night most nights. I thought her being off school over the holidays and away from all those germs might help her but no such luck. She lost her appetite and, with it, some weight so we decided to take her to the doctor, who diagnosed her with an infection in both ears.

I also decided to pay a visit to the doctor myself because for most of the month I'd also had a bad cough, along with a sore throat and a lot of congestion. It cleared up a little over Christmas, which I was very grateful for, but then it came back with a vengeance and hit me like a tonne of bricks as soon as the festivities were over. ​Turned out I had another sinus infection (at least my fourth this year), so that was me out of action for the remainder of the month. Apart from feeling like death warmed up, it was incredibly frustrating because I always try to end the year on a high note. It's usually my most productive time, as I scramble to clear the slate as much as possible so I can really revel in that 'fresh start' feeling.

Instead, I was laid up in bed with that ​'slow, painful death' feeling.

Scout & I hugging in front of Christmas tree, December 2016

​On the plus side, I finally managed to get Scout into a school for September 2017. Where we live, places are extremely limited. There's no school at all in the area bar a private one with eye-watering fees (I've no intention of paying €7,000 for my daughter to learn the alphabet, thank you very much), and all the closest schools prioritise children who live in their locality. It wasn't my first (or even my second) choice, but at this stage I'm just grateful I got her in anywhere at all. Of all the places I applied to (and there were a lot), it was literally the only acceptance letter we got.

It may all be moot anyway because we've re-applied for our visas, but I'd rather have the place than not.​

Scout & I walking home from Christmas concert, December 2016

This December saw a lot of 'firsts' for Scout. She had her first Christmas concert, with her Montessori singing a few Christmas songs. We also brought her to her very first panto, which had been on my "17 Before 2017" list (update on that coming very soon). AND she brought home her first handmade Christmas tree decoration, which I'll treasure forever.​ This is also the first year she's really started to understand the concept of Santa, and there was great excitement leaving food out for him and his reindeer on Christmas Eve night (and even more excitement the following morning to find it was gone).

Even though the tree went up on December 2nd, we toned down the decorations a SMIDGEN this year. I also made the conscious decision to clear some extra stuff out to make way for everything. This made a HUGE difference because it meant I wasn't just trying to squash the festive season into my sitting room, as in previous years. Still, Scout got a bike and a bajillion other things for Christmas, so now I'm back to square one.

December 2016 Christmas decorations

What I read in December 2016:

(Contains Amazon affiliate links which means that if you buy through my link, I'll earn a small commission on the sale... and use it to buy more books. Hurray! For more info, read my disclosure.)

Reading took a bit of a backseat this month because of all that was going on, but I'd already exceeded my target for the year (25 books) so I was happy to let it slide a little.

  • "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman. A beautifully written, heart-wrenching story of a young married couple who live alone on an island, entrusted with the guarding and care of its lighthouse. But they're also closely guarding something else -- a devastating secret that threatens to tear both them and others apart. This was easily the second best novel I read this year (with "Elizabeth Is Missing" taking the top spot). Spellbinding and unsettling.
  • "Get Your Sh*t Together" by Sarah Knight. I didn't actually get to finish it before we rang in the new year, but got a good bit under my belt all the same. Review (and giveaway) coming soon!

And that's it for another month... and year! Right now I feel I'm so far behind with everything that I'll never catch up. Once I kick this infection to the curb, I'm just going to have to knuckle down and take everything one step at a time.

But maybe a nap first.


What was the highlight of December 2016 for you?

Did you feel you started the new year off on the right foot?​

Happy New Year!

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