Create your balance. Design your life.

Choosing Sanity This Holiday Season

They’re here whether we like them or not. The “holidays” are on us like a tick on a dog. Some of us may be gleefully pulling out Christmas decorations while the rest of us cram leftover Halloween candy down our throat. It’s time to STOP.

I mean it. Last year, at this very time, I started a fast descent into the holiday blues–which turned into spring┬ádepression–that turned into twenty pounds. This was an accident of course. I fully intended on following my own advice and staying balanced through it all. What I neglected to account for was: a difficult birthday, a lonely holiday, and a life-changing family rearrangement. One on top of the other, I teetered and fell way back to old habits.

I write all of this as a cautionary tale to myself (and anyone else who might be reading) to STOP right now. Chances are we already feel the expectations piling up. The “to-do” lists have started, and although we haven’t reached a fever-pitch just yet, many of us feel like we are already running out of time.


I have twice as much on my plate this year. And having finally come out of a dark tunnel, I want to make sure I don’t loose the grip I have on my own life for a few weeks of twinkle lights and egg-nog.

1. Get rid of the expectations.

There is always a pressure to be happy during the holidays. It’s in the songs, the commercials, the dessert. It’s not real. The expectation that the entire holiday season is going to be filled with joy is insane. The expectation that a family in distress, who has been fighting all year, is going to sit down and have a happy meal together, is unrealistic. Pick what you want to have happen ahead of time, and then manifest that for yourself. For example, if you want to have a Thanksgiving dinner filled with laughter and real Thankfulness–DO IT! Gather the people who bring that into your life and celebrate with them. Does it have to be on Thanksgiving? Maybe not. Maybe you feel like you are not ready to set boundaries with your family of origin, and still need them at the table. Okay. Perhaps you put your energy and hopes into planning your “friends-giving” and just “show up” to the other one. At some point, you have to choose.


2. Plan as much as you can now!

Sit down for coffee in the morning or tea in the evening or wine… and start making your list of everything you want to accomplish. Try two columns: must do and would like to do. For example, I must do 20 loads of laundry. I’d like to replace the flooring in my kitchen. I must do an outline for a project I have at work. I’d like to get the tree out and set-up early. Put this list up on the fridge and let everyone do it. Cross off what gets done and re-do the list again next week. Maybe getting the tree up early doesn’t seem so important in a week. Maybe another “fire” crops up and needs tending. Write in all the events on your calendar and include time for yourself. Do not break a promise to yourself for “me time” if something “more important” crops up. Chances are; it is not more important.

3. Practice being in your body.

This is a difficult one for me. I don’t like to focus on my body or how I feel in it. When I do, I find that I am holding my breath. Once I tune-in to my physical state, I find my shoulders are up to my ears; I’m not breathing properly; my chest is tight, and I’m sucking in my gut. YIKES! This is a body prepared for danger, not a body prepared to enjoy a nice stroll in the autumn air! Every time you get in your car, or get on the subway, practice being in your body. How do you feel? Can you feel your feet? What is your chest saying? Calm it down.

Most importantly, STOP.

Give yourself a break. Don’t pile on extra responsibilities. Say “no” by saying, “YES” to yourself instead. Try this, “I cannot attend your cookie swap party,” because I am saying yes to an entire day for myself to get a pedicure, my haircut, and go on a date with my love. You don’t need to tell them why. It’s easier if you have your calendar and schedule planned out now. You will be less likely to over-schedule and forget about your own needs. You will not be “missing” anything. This holiday season will be here again before you know it. Spend the time on your REAL PRIORITIES not your begrudging “obligations.”

photo credit: Sarah Ross photography via photopin cc

One comment

  1. Yes! I love this. It’s so easy to get overburdened this time of year. I’m getting better at saying ‘no’ but it’s still not always easy. Thanks for the reminder and tips!

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