The most wonderful season of all?  Yes, it can be but it can also be filled with stress, over commitments, arguments and utter exhaustion.   How many of us wind up getting sick either during or after the holidays?  We get so excited for the lights, the outings, the parties, the gift giving we end up feeling frazzled and swearing to ourselves that next year will be different.   But we forget and we do it all over again.  For those of you who have a different holiday season experience you can stop reading or feel free to post below what you do to have a more relaxing December.   For the rest of us, keep reading as I’m trying to figure out how to help my family and myself this holiday season and thought offering up the tips below could help others.

Set Your Holiday Values Agenda

What I mean by this is get clear about what you want to experience this holiday season.  I don’t think anyone would say, ‘I can’t wait to experience stress and get into debt this holiday season,’ yet many of us often do.  So, today being December 3rd think about the next 28+ days and what you want to get out of them.  For example, my current set of holiday goals is to maintain my health, be present when I’m with others and appreciate what is special about the holidays.  I like the idea picking three values to keep it simple and clear.  You can reconnect with family and friends, plan a special seasonal outing, and finish an overdue house project and feel good while doing it because it lined up with your values and intentions.  And for those of us that don’t live on an island and have to share our time and values with a significant other it also helps to check in about what they want to get out of the holiday season.

Take Time for Yourself

When you can, take some much needed time for yourself.  Even if it’s 30 minutes here and there – just take it.  A nap, a walk, a yoga class, stretching, reading a book, taking a bath, etc. can significantly help reduce stress, increase a sense of calm and keep us centered during the holiday bustle.   And for those of us who have kids, this time is even more crucial to be a better caretaker for them and to model this behavior for them.  When my daughter comes in to my room and I’m lying down or reading she often decides to do a quiet activity in her room or in mine.  Those are the nice moments that I appreciate before another sibling eruption occurs in our household.

Know Your Limits (and then scale down a few levels)

Before you RSVP to that next party or volunteer to organize a holiday event at work or at your kid’s school in the middle of December – stop, really think about if you can or want to and decide accordingly.  If you find yourself saying yes more than two times here give yourself permission to say no the next time.  Do these activities line up with your values and intentions that you outlined above?  Try and strike a balance between getting the right amount of holiday cheer without overextending and inviting in irritability, frustration and stress.  In the wise words of Ice Cube, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

In the spirit of keeping ideas to the magical number of three, I’ll stop here.  I hope this helps and I love hearing about what others do to stay sane during this 2013 holiday season.   Thanks for reading!

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