14 Ways to Keep Your Sanity Over the Holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they can also be manic, stressful, chaotic and exhausting. Here’s a few friendly tips to help get you through the holidays without losing your mind.

We call it the most wonderful time of the year…and it is…as long as we can keep from strangling our in-laws, burning the turkey, and keeping the cat from eating the tree and the dog from eating the cat. It’s a universal truth…the holidays are amazing, but they can also be very stressful.

For many families, Christmas is the only time of year they are able to get together. So creating warm, happy memories and spending quality time together is important. Unfortunately, all the work associated with cooking, shopping, scheduling, traveling, and managing kids that are off from school can leave you feeling burned out. It doesn’t have to be this way! Honest!

Here are a few tips from the Leavetown crew that we hope will help you keep your sanity and your inner peace over the holidays:

  1. Don’t try to do everything yourself…and further to that, don’t try to do everything! If you need help or you feel overwhelmed, ask a loved one for support. Choose to do the stuff that really matters to you, and cut the rest. Maybe the tree will be ok without the hand-glazed popcorn strings this year, and if you don’t get the usual 200 Christmas cards handwritten and mailed this year no one will die. Focus on what’s really important to you, and just do what you can.
  2. Be nice to yourself. This is a cliché for a reason, too many of us neglect ourselves in order to make everyone else happy. This is backward. Look after yourself first so you have the energy to look after others. Make a date with yourself every day to do something just for you. Go to a yoga class, meditate for 15 minutes, have a glass of wine and read a chapter (of a book…remember those? You used to love reading), take a bath, do a crossword puzzle. These types of seemingly ‘luxury’ activities are not leisure, they are recovery, and everyone needs to recover in their own way. Let your family know when your ‘me time’ is and tell them to beat it.
  3. Hug your loved ones often. This isn’t just a sweet thing to do, giving and receiving hugs has actually been proven to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
  4. Foster an environment of laughter and light-heartedness. Watch funny holiday movies, reminisce about the memories that are the happiest, put a hilarious comic strip or Christmas card up on the fridge where you’ll see it often, play board games that make everyone laugh, put on joyful music and avoid the morose or heavy stuff.
  5. Get lots of sleep. Again, common sense, but we can easily fall into the habit of staying up late over the holidays and this can take a toll on your happiness and health. Keep a regular bedtime, both for yourself and your kids if you have em’. It’ll keep everyone more sane over the holidays and be a lot easier to get back into regular life come January.
  6. Do something active every day. Even if all you can manage is a 20 minute walk, get out there and do it. Exercise is literally a magic pill for alleviating stress and boosting your mood.
  7. Utilize the humble to-do list. Keeping a simple list makes you feel more organized and in control and can do wonders for helping you keep your sanity over the holidays. Shopping lists, errand lists, packing lists if you’re leaving home…it’s a simple tactic that simply works. And it is always so satisfying to put a stroke through each item as you get er’ done.
  8. Say ‘no’ more often. This simple word has the power to instantly lift a weight off your shoulder and de-stress your life. It can be hard for people-pleasers to say no but it’s essential to learn how to say it and not feel guilty. Everyone has a lot going on, they’ll understand and they won’t be offended if you have to say no in order to keep your sanity. Once you say it a few times and you realize that your friends aren’t going to ‘fire’ you, you’ll feel instant freedom.
  9. Shop online. Seriously. Unless you like battling the holiday crowds at the mall, just do your holiday shopping at home in your jammies. This is an incredible benefit of modern times, take full advantage of it and spare yourself a lot of unnecessary stress.
  10. Purchase a few generic gifts that are universally loved. There will always be someone that you wish you had something to give like a teacher, coach, bus-driver, or a hostess at a party that you weren’t planning to go to but somehow ended up crashing. Stash a few extra bottles of wine and wine gift bags, boxes of chocolates, artisanal food preserves or hand-crafted holiday ornaments in your pantry…you’re highly likely find someone to give them to.
  11. Utilize the power of gift cards. This is not a cop-out gift. If you find you’re stressed about picking something out for someone that is difficult to buy for, save yourself the agony and get a gift-card. No one hates a gift card.
  12. Buy in bulk. No explanation necessary.
  13. Pick your battles and know when to ‘let it go’. Odds are pretty good that you’ve got someone in your family circle that knows how to push your buttons. Choose not to engage, choose to walk away, choose to breathe and count to 10 before you react.
  14. Be in the moment. Before you know it the holidays will be over and it’s time to face another year. This time with family and friends is special and it flies by so quickly it can make your head spin. Be present. Let the worries of tomorrow wait for tomorrow. Today is a gift.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!