12 Tips for Keeping Your Sanity During the Holidays

We have all read at least one article or blog post about how to simplify the holidays.  Most of them typically say the same things.  I have read through several articles and posts to deliver you the most condensed common tips and included some creative ways to go about enjoying your holidays! Hopefully these tips will allow you to keep your sanity not just intact, but perhaps even a little better than before.  Enjoy : )

1.)  Limit Your Commitments: First and foremost, be honest with who you are comfortable with spending the holidays with and for how long.  You may love your family very much, but you might realize that sometimes being with them can be stressful. Thinking these things through allows you to set boundaries on what you know you can cope with and can help you avoid unreasonable pressure during the holidays. Planning your commitments ahead of time also allows you to feel more in control and not feel so obligated to be everywhere. When you have legitimate reasons for being happy, allow yourself to be. Whether it’s baking or cleaning the house; if you don’t enjoy it, don’t over do it. You can always buy your baked goods or ask everyone else to bring a side dish or dessert.One of the biggest things you can do for yourself is learn to say "Yes" when others offer to help. 

 2.) Change Your Mindset:  Even though this time of year is only during a single season, it does come every year.   That being said; If you can’t participate in every party or family tradition this year, it’s really not as big of a deal as you may make it out to be. Next year will come soon enough. Be flexible. Instead of trying to plan for so much in a single day/weekend, create your own schedule based on what is realistic for you and your family.

(Example; if you celebrate Thanksgiving with one family, get together with the other side a few days later for a more informal leftovers dinner.)

3.)  Simplify Your Holidays: Make plans to divide family responsibilities like gift shopping, decorating, and meal preparation. If you want things to be the same, you will set yourself up for disappointment.  Settle for what each family member can handle comfortably. Do not wait for others to initiate activities; take action yourself in order to not feel disappointed later. 

(Example: Agree upon a budget for purchases or give options and decide on either; a family gift exchange, donating to charities, or homemade gifts.)

4.) Take Your Time: Take extra time to rest and relax. It is all right to excuse yourself for some time to kick it into neutral and recharge your batteries.  Whether that that time is spent alone in a quiet room with a book, TV, or in the car listening to music; its all about keeping it calm and stress-free.  However, if you find yourself constantly feeling the need to “get away,” you may want to rethink what you have committed to doing for the holidays or pick up the Bat phone and call that special superhero of a friend or relative you love for support.

(Example; Take that massage, nail salon trip, or just put in some ear plugs and meditate.)

5.) Utilize Your Supports: If you suddenly are becoming overwhelmed with the holidays or the emotions that go along with them and you find yourself isolating, that is a red flag that could have you feeling blue even after the holiday season is gone. Even if you flat out despise the holidays, at least continue your typical social routine.  Seek out your favorite people. Sometimes your mood can improve just by being around a best friend or a favorite relative.  These people get you and understand if you don’t want to be apart of something and won’t put pressure on you. In short; seek out people who allow you to be yourself, and avoid people who contribute to your stress.

(Pro tip; Counseling or support groups are another way to relieve holiday stress or sadness. Being able to connect with others and sharing similar experiences and solutions can help you manage your feelings.)

6.) SHiFT Your Focus: Lets get real.  The commercialism and superficiality of the holidays can get a bit aggravating.  Instead of getting wrapped up in stuff, things, and obligations; give back to your community. You could volunteer at a toy drive, food bank, soup kitchen, or other opportunities your town might host. Instead of getting lost in a stressful sea of people, contribute to the well being of others (which in turn contributes to your own health). Choose a Charity Gift. Another great way to avoid the mall or hours of online shopping is to give charity gift cards or non-profit memberships that reflect your relatives/friends.

(Example; Network forGood allows the gift receiver to donate the money to the non-profit of their choice.)

7.) Remember Your Health: What is worse than committing to multiple holiday obligations and feeling stressed?  Getting sick and having to either skip or suffer through them with a runny nose or cough.  Get into the sun at least 15 minutes a day to soak up some vitamin D.  Regular exposure to sunlight or even fluorescent lights, can significantly improve your mood during Autumn and Winter. Get plenty of sleep.  Try for at least 8 undisturbed hours a night and plan ahead accordingly.  Good sleep is one of our best defenses against illnesses, depression, stress and weight gain. Too many nights out and about can accumulate and leave you feeling like the Walking Dead (Benefits of sleep) . Physical activity is one of the best ways to make yourself feel better through simple body chemistry in releasing endorphins. Take a walk, go to the gym, or participate in a sport you enjoy.

(Pro tip; Try focusing on a specific fitness goal every day to keep you on track.  If you want to burn more but have less time, try high-intensity interval training.

8.) Set Your Routine: Getting out of your normal routine with a bunch of parties and get-togethers can leave you feeling flustered.  Set at least one goal every day; even if it is as simple as cleaning out a closet and donating some clothes or writing a few Christmas cards a day. The piece of mind you will get from completing these tasks add to your sense of productivity and sanity.

9.) Watch Your Intake:  Moderation is key but the holidays can be a time of temptation and excess.  Watch your intake of alcohol especially. A few drinks can make you feel temporarily euphoric, but alcohol is a depressant and going overboard can lead to making you feel even worse. On a more serious note; Alcohol can interfere with medication and intensify symptoms of any mental health issue. This can also lead to uncomfortable or awkward moments at your holiday gatherings, especially if you will be around people in your family who can trigger some unpleasant emotions.  On a similar note; try to stick to a healthy diet and avoid overeating.

(Pro tip; Eat a healthy snack of some vegetables or fruits before attending a holiday party to leave less room for junk.)


10.) Plan Your Shopping: If you can’t do your shopping online and the crowds are already out in force, you might want to consider taking a day off. Rather than stressing and spending hours in traffic on your weekend, use one of the vacation days you were saving for the holidays for a mid-week shopping extravaganza. The shopping centers will be less crowded than on the weekends and you'll be able to quickly accomplish your goals.  Maybe you could even get some form of alone time relaxation?! Once you have checked everything off your list on your special day off, work will seem much less stressful and you can start to enjoy the holidays.

11.) Reflect on Your Blessings: Whether you are religious or spiritual or none of the above, whether you go to a church, a mosque, a synagogue or take time in nature; take time to stop and reflect on your blessings in your life.  The holidays are as good of a time as any to tell those people who you are grateful for just how much you appreciate them.  

12.) Pack Your Bags: Need a change of holiday routine and scenery? Get out of town.  Literally. Make it a trip for two with your significant other, or make it a family affair. Instead of buying gifts for each other, spend the money on the experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. As the comedian Daniel Tosh once said, “Ever see anyone frown on a jet ski?  No.  That’s because it is physically impossible.” Visiting parts of the world that are particularly more sunny can also improve your mood, not to mention give you a great tan : ). 

(Example: Ever spent Christmas on a beach in Hawaii?  Mele Kalikimaka!  I don’t know about you, but surfing some of the best waves in the world with my husband sounds great to me. Sometimes, if the holidays have you singing the blues and you just can’t beat ‘em or join 'em?…….fly away!)


***Seek professional help if you need it. Many studies estimate that there is at least a 15% increase in people seeking professional help during the holiday season. If you are having trouble sleeping, have lost your appetite, have continuing thoughts of hopelessness and despair, seeking professional help may needed.

Have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year!

Best wishes,

Nicole @ SHiFT.coaching.counseling.consulting