8 Ways to Keep Yourself Sane this Holiday Season

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

Once the year had turned over, we chatted again. I was feeling particularly rested, relaxed, and beaming with new energy. When I asked about her holiday she replied, “it was madness!”. She launched into multiple stories about “brutal” family obligations, rushing around, having so many more things to do than usual. I wonder how scrunched up my face looked to her in that moment!

We’re coming up on a very festive time of year, and it can be fun and overwhelming. If every year you emerge from the holiday season feeling run down, why not try something different?

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

–Albert Einstein

keep sane this holiday seasonHere are 8 ways to keep yourself more sane this holiday season, so you minimize stress and maximize whatever you consider to be fun:

  1. Carefully consider invitations.  It’s nice to be invited to lots 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 decided long ago to commit to a max of 2 social things per week, and not on consecutive days. In the time of COVID this tip can feel less important, but as you’ve likely felt, Zoom fatigue is real and must be factored in.
  2. Only 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! (That may be easier this year, depending on how seriously folks in your social circle consider the pandemic to be.) And, if the idea of spending time with an old friend 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 requesting your energy, take care of yourself by checking in with how you feel periodically, and don’t overdo. 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 30 minutes, talk for 20. It’s OK, and it may preserve the relationship because you’ll be at your very best while visiting.
  4. Be courageous and 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.
  5. Make any extra work as easy as possible on yourself.  If you’re hosting, give yourself a present and accept that your house may not look as perfect as your high standards would prefer. Ask family members to make 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. For those of you who are 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. When 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. When you get an email, make sure you still have interest in the company, service, or person sending the message. If not, Unsubscribe, delete the message, and be done. Do this as they come, and you’ll get a lot less “noise” in your email inbox! (And 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, join my Self-care Challenge to help you discover quick and easy ways to incorporate more YOU time into each day.

Have any tips 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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