8 Ways to Keep Yourself Sane this Holiday Season

Several years ago I was talking with a work colleague. She asked me what I was doing over the holidays. I didn’t have much going on–my family wasn’t close by, and I wasn’t traveling anywhere. I was very much looking forward to spending some time off work, doing things I enjoyed like reading a book, purging my office, lounging in a bubble bath, and so on. My colleague’s face twisted in pity:, “how sad!” she exclaimed. I was surprised at her response, because I didn’t see it that way at all.

A few weeks later, once the year had turned over, we chatted again. I was feeling particularly rested, relaxed, and beaming with new energy. I inquired about her holiday time off. “It was madness!”, she began, quickly launching into multiple stories about “brutal” family obligations, rushing around, having so many more things to do than usual. She seemed very frazzled. I wonder if my face twisted in pity.

It’s a very festive time of year, and it can be as much fun as it is overwhelming. If every year you emerge from the holiday season feeling run down from the stress, why not try something different?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

–Albert Einstein

Here are 8 ways to keep yourself more sane this holiday season, so you can have more fun and minimize stress:

  1. Carefully consider invitations.  It can be nice to be invited to a lot of social events, and if you accept them all you may find yourself over-committed and without time and space that’s necessary for you. I’ve gotten into the habit lately of doing a max of 2 social things per week, and not on consecutive days.
  2. Attend gatherings that feel “light”.  Consider whether specific plans add to your holiday enjoyment or take away from it. For example, if you easily recall that a holiday visit to your family caused angst that took you days (or weeks!) to recover from, stay home! If the idea of spending time with that old friend who’s in town just for a week lights you up inside, then prioritize and do it.
  3. Monitor your energy and keep some gas in the tank.  Whether it’s family, friends, or work throwing the shindig, take care of yourself by checking in with how you feel periodically, and don’t overstay. Meaning, don’t wait until you’re feeling fatigued to say your goodbyes. Another example: if you can only tolerate mom or Uncle Joe for 3 days, stay for 2. It’s OK, and may preserve the relationship because you’ll be at your best while visiting.
  4. Get comfortable saying “no”.  You’ve likely heard this before. Trust that people will understand that “no” to their dinner or party doesn’t mean “no” to wanting to spend time with them. In fact, they’re likely to admit they’re also tired from all the running around and would love to decline as well. (Note: Saying “no” often takes courage!)
  5. Make any extra work as easy as possible on yourself.  If you’re hosting, give yourself a present and hire somebody to clean your house, or accept that it just may not be up to your high standards. Ask guests to bring something they enjoy eating or drinking so you don’t have to make everything for everybody. (Unless of course that’s relaxing / therapeutic for you and you enjoy it!)
  6. Set good boundaries at work, especially if you’re self-employed. We’ve been talking boundaries all along, but mostly with family, friends, and self. If you’re self-employed, this may be a busy season for you. If you work for someone else, it may feel even harder to stop being (literally or virtually) at the office and enjoy some downtime. If you have the opportunity and the flexibility at work, be sure to use “no” liberally–otherwise you may find yourself in the New Year without ever having a break. (How can you make a fresh start without any space?) If you do work for someone else, remember that we often set expectations for ourselves that are much higher than those of our bosses / employers!
  7. Weed out email “noise”. This time of year, you’re likely getting promotional emails from all sorts of folks with special offers, sales, gifts, etc. (In fact, I’ll be sending one out soon too! 😉 ) If when you get an email you find you no longer have interest in the company or person sending the message, Unsubscribe right then and there, then delete the message and be done. If you do this as they come, you’ll get a lot less “noise” in your email inbox! (If you find you’re really missing something, you can always resubscribe next year.)
  8. Don’t even think about skipping your self-care routine! Whether it’s a yoga class, a meditation session, a relaxing bath, a monthly massage, or something else, don’t skip self-care in the interest of “gaining” time for something else. You’ll gain much more benefit from your me-time / downtime than you will from pushing through the busy. If you feel you don’t have time for self-care, re-read this list, and sign up for the next 7 Day Self-Care Challenge.

These are simple techniques, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to do. You can learn more about developing Stress Resilience, or if you’re ready for some help, schedule a 20-minute complimentary conversation.

Have any to add? Let me know (in the comments) what you do to stay sane during this crazy busy fun time of year! Let’s keep the “happy” in “happy holidays”. 🙂


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