How to Stay Sane During the Hectic Holiday Season

This week is Thanksgiving!  Besides lots of food and friends, it also means that the start of the hectic holiday season is officially here. While it’s one of my favourite times of the year,  I tend to easily get swept up in all of the excitement. While this might not seem such a bad thing, it often leaves me feeling unbalanced, spread too thin, and unnecessarily stressed. Add a few long-distance flights into the mix and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Between holiday decorating, gift shopping, and festive get-togethers my free time slowly diminishes. Once the holidays arrives I feel extra pressure to make the most of it. Because I don’t get to see family and friends in the US very often, I feel like I have to pack every possible minute into every trip, which only makes me even more stressed. To ease some of the pressure I feel to make the absolute most of every minute, I use the list below to make sure I stay balanced and grounded when things seem like they are getting a bit too hectic.

  1. Schedule Strategically 

I’m always tempted to pack each of my trips home full of back to back activities with friends and family, but over-scheduelign can be just as bad as under-scheduling. I’ve found that planning one main thing with each person I want to spend time with– whether its a coffee date or group dinner– makes me way less stressed. Knowing I have at least one thing planned lets me relax a little more and really enjoy the time since I’m not worrying about what’s next.

2. Stick to You Routine

This one seems like a no-brainer, but at some point during the holidays I inevitably lose track of my regular routine. While it’s totally fine to let my regular a.m. yoga session slide for a day or two, any longer and I start to feel a little on edge.  The same can be said for my sleep schedule– as tempting as it is to spend more nights out with friends (and wine!), keeping my nighttime routine helps me stay well-rested to enjoy my time at home. Making sure to stick to my day to day schedule helps me stay grounded and calm. Which takes me to number three…

3. Sleep

Of course I manage to  squeeze in some sleep, but this one is more about making time for enough sleep. I like to wake up early, but the rest of my family are night owls, and when I’m home the time after dinner and before bed is one of the main times we all relax and catch up together. This means either getting less sleep, shifting my routine a little bit. It’s taken me years to find the balance, but now I try to have a mix of early (regular) bedtimes and later ones, so I get to enjoy time with my family. Prioritising a good 7-8 hours of sleep helps me manage the holiday stress and stay a happier version of myself all year.

4. Take Notes

I’ve had an on again/off again relationship with journaling since I was in high school, when the thought occurred to me that one day I would want to read back through and remember what my life was like. During college I got a lot better at regularly recording my life, but I make an extra effort to put pen to paper around the holidays. Not only is there so much to be thankful for, but holiday memories are some of the most precious. Knowing that I have more than just my mind to keep my holiday memories has the added benefit of keeping me ‘present’ so I can record things later.

5. Breathe

Making time for even one minute of conscious breathing in the morning and before bed is good practice for staying ‘in the moment’ when the list of things to do to prepare for the holidays seems to be exponentially growing. I’ve been loving the Breathe App on my apple watch, but even just a good old fashioned timer is a great way to carve out a few minutes to decompress. A quick meditation is also a great way to combat stress and anxiety when dinner table discussions get tense, or when you’ve answered the same question for the hundredth time.

 

Hopefully at least some of these help you stay balanced during this holiday season. While its easy to get caught up in all the preparation, the best parts of the holidays is everything that happens in the down time. I don’t remember what my holiday meal was last Thanksgiving, but I do remember laughing at the dinner table with friends, and singing along to Adele after several glasses of wine.

This year I’ll be celebrating away from home, but am looking forward to a belated ‘friendsgiving’ at the weekend.  How are you celebrating this year?

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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