I get it! The weather is cold. The holiday parties are piling up. It’s dark at 4:30PM, before you even leave work for the day.
You are running around like a crazy person getting gifts, setting up decorations, taking care of the people in your family, while still trying to do everything you gotta do.
How can you make it through the season with even a shred of sanity?
There are a million great ideas out there, but let’s keep it simple and focus on five of my favorite tips that make the season just a little bit easier, less stressful, and more enjoyable for me (and in turn, for those I love!)
1. Take care of YOURSELF! (at least a little bit!)
Lots of people use the holidays as an excuse to completely throw aside their health and fitness routines. It’s easier to just push them into 2018, right?
Don’t do that!
Health, fitness, and nutrition are not just about looking good, it’s also about feeling good! When you work out and eat healthy, you will feel better.
“But HOW??!!”, you ask? Glad you asked! Just like any other time, it’s about MODERATION! I’m not asking you to work out for an hour seven days a week and eat kale every day. It’s Christmas! You should enjoy yourself!
What I am saying is, don’t throw away the entire month just because it’s busy. I know I’ve treated December like a month-long cruise before, having eggnog every night, pizza on the days I don’t feel like cooking, and just snacking my way through the advent calendar. But I always and up feeling worse!
So, give yourself some treats and breaks. It’s OK to relax on your goals for a month. Just remember, relaxing doesn’t mean abandoning them entirely!
Here are a few tips on taking care of yourself:
- Carve out some time to work out, at least 20 – 30 minutes, at least 4 – 5 days a week. At a minimum, try to go for a walk or get some fresh air, where you can just clear your head. For me, working out, even for a little bit, helps give me clarity and gets me away from my phone and computer.
- Adjust your drinks and food to healthier versions. Go for the mixed drink with seltzer instead of a heavy eggnog. Or, if you are determined to have eggnog, just have one! Make healthy, whole foods – vegetables, fruits, lean meats. If you know you are going to party, determine ahead of time you aren’t going to overindulge. Fill ONE plate!
- Plan your meals for the week – it is so much easier when you approach your week with a plan instead of winging it. Especially when life gets crazy busy like it does during the holidays.
- Make some time for yourself to just relax. Taking the time to slow down and disconnect from the craziness of the season really helps with getting your head right during the season. Read a book, get a massage, do some yoga, or whatever it is that SLOWS the pace of life for you!
2. Keep a Routine
Try to live your life close to how your normally would. Sure, there will be extra activities in there with parties, shopping and more. Make a list of the things you need to do (on paper or your can use an app) for the rest of the month, and list out a few each day.
Check at least ONE thing off your list each day so you feel accomplished! You will be amazed how much easier the holidays can be if you break it into small tasks and you just do a handful each day.
For example, my task list for the month includes things like –
- Gifts for family
- Gifts for friends
- Gifts for others (mailperson, etc)
- Decorate the house
- Plan Christmas dinner
- Buy Christmas dinner
- Wrap presents
- Plan travel
Just list out what has to be done, and when, and do one thing at a time. Don’t focus on all of it – that’s when you will overwhelm yourself and you will struggle to be present with the ones you love. Keep it simple!
Don’t be pressured to keep up with the Kringles. Social media can make people feel envious in the most boring of times, but around Christmas, oh man, watch out! You will have legit Martha Stewarts making your Holiday look like the lamest thing ever. Don’t worry about it! It’s NOT THEIR holiday – it’s yours!
You don’t have to have an Elf, or an Advent calendar, or sixty-bajillion lights, if you don’t want to. Do the things that bring you joy. The people in your life will remember much more about how you treated them during the holidays than they ever will remember how perfect it looked.
3. Stay in an Attitude of Gratitude and Wonder
I’ve seen Bad Moms, and I can laugh at wanting to throw a reindeer from the 3rd floor balcony at the mall in a fit of Christmas Rage.
You may want to scream just listening to me tell you to stay grateful!
But really, it is simple. Gratitude is a choice. You can focus your energy on the positive things about the holidays, or you can focus on the things that are stressing you out and your mile-long to do list.
Try to start each morning by just thinking of a few things you are grateful for. They can be big or small things – someone you love, or just a hot cup of coffee.
Remember WHY you put this effort into the holidays, and make sure the things are you doing are lined up with that.
There will be times of stress in the holidays – it can come from other people, (even family members, amirite?) or your massive to-do list. Just take a breath and let it out. There is a lot to be grateful for and in wonderment of during the holidays, if you focus on that.
4. Be Present
Put down the phone!!
We are so busy that the holidays will just come and go and before you know it, we will be into 2018 and spinning our gears again. Here are a few tips to help keep you grounded during the holidays.
- Plan family activities where you can spend time together – maybe go see a play, or a movie, or go out for a drive looking at Christmas lights.
- Put the phone down – for real! Besides being a distraction, it’s easy for people to see how ‘amazing’ everyone
- Notice the small things – Christmas is amazing to me because of all the attention people put into the holiday. Decorations, the sounds, the lights, the smells. Slow down and just observe it for a few minutes.
- Get a date night with your spouse
- Keep things simple, if you feel you are getting overwhelmed.
Don’t let the stress of the holidays take away from the magic that is in them. Remember what it was like being a kid? Bring back that wonder.
5. It’s OK to Say NO and Simplify. And BONUS – IGNORE the Judgement!
We used to put up this HUGE , 12′ tall Christmas tree in our house when we lived in Massachusetts. It looked amazing, and was amazing, but it also was a TON of work to light and decorate. It took nearly an hour to drag it in from outside because it was so big, another thirty minutes to get the thing in the industrial-size tree stand, and then another 3 hours to light the thing. I had my husband put on over 2,000 lights because I love lighttss!! After that, we would wrap it with a ribbon, and then hang TONS of Ornaments on it.
It was awesome, but stressful (for my husband). We moved this past year and our new house doesn’t have a vaulted ceiling living room so our tree is a little shorter – and it took less than half the time to decorate it.
It’s OK to go overboard on decorations – but you don’t have to. You can choose! And don’t let people judge you. It is YOUR holiday, so if you want to put lights around a cardboard box and call it a tree, you can do that!
Remember, it’s OK to say NO. You don’t have to agree to every party, every event, every Secret Santa.
Ask for help. If you are hosting dinner, ask some family members to help bring food so you don’t have to do it all.
Remember – it’s YOUR holiday
I hope these tips were helpful! The Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, family, and wonder. Yes, there are more things to do and yes, it can be stressful, but if you let the stress of the holidays take over the enjoyment of them, then you have lost the point of it entirely.
Take care of yourself, share some love in the world, and I hope you have an amazing December 🙂
Comment below with your favorite tips for getting tackling the holidays with some sanity!