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December 16, 2014     0


My Top 11 List for Keeping Sane and Calm this Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again. Time for decorations, pretty lights, reuniting with family and visits home. It’s also time for overtaxed schedules, family arguments, mall parking lots and all the other things that make the holidays a royal pain in the ars! So in the spirit of taking on only what you can, having a stress free holiday season and ensuring you show up for both yourself and others in a meaningful fashion, here’s my top 11 (I couldn’t make 10 work) list for keeping cool, staying sane and being present this holiday season.

1. Create the MUST List. It all starts with getting organized. Creating a must do/must have/must see list helps you stay organized and prevents you from getting distracted by things that aren’t a priority for you. Make the list and stick to it!

2. Start with you. I pretty much give the following advice to my clients on a regular basis; you can’t be there for anybody else in your life until you’re there for yourself first. Self-care is the only sure-fire way to ensure you show up and be present for everyone and everything this holiday season. Take care of YOU first and you’ll do a better job of taking care of everything else.

3. Learn to say NO! The fastest way to holiday burnout is not appropriately setting boundaries with the people in your life. Saying yes to everybody’s requests is going to leave you with no time for yourself. It isn’t a badge of honor to run yourself into the ground, nor should it be treated as such. It’s important to be comfortable saying no when you are busy, overextended or just plain tired. No martyrs allowed this holiday season. Get off the cross, we need the wood.

4. Learn to ask for help. Human beings are hard wired for connection and support. Our society has this concept turned on its head, acting as if real strength comes from doing everything yourself and not relying on anyone for anything. This idea is isolating and creates separation and judgment. Real strength comes from not only admitting you need help, but also reaching out and asking for it. This applies to all the different areas (and events) in your life, not just when you need to bake holiday cookies, pick up Grandma from the airport and figure out which holiday bulb is burnt outside on the house (although I’m not sure if anyone would help you with the last one – think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation).

5. Remember the true meaning of the holiday season. Different holidays come with different spiritual beliefs, but they stem from the same truth. This holiday season is about celebrating your connection to the Source (God, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Cher, etc.). And for those of you who might not have a spiritual practice, this season is about giving back to your fellow man, remembering we are all connected and celebrating the miracle of our existence. Sure, Santa, gifts and Uncle Harry’s balloon animals are fun, but there is a powerful significance to this season we all need to remember and celebrate.

6. Keep the partying to a reasonable level. . We all know that with the holidays comes a whole lot of “spirits”, sugar, caffeine, fat and a whole slew of other toxins we have the opportunity to ingest which can lay waste to our bodies in all of its domains (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual). Be cognizant of the choices you’re making and remember the negative impact of going overboard (depression, exhaustion, sickness, weight gain, etc.) By no sense of the imagination am I suggesting you say no to Grandpa’s infamous, “Hanukah Happiness” cocktail, just remember to partake of the holiday goodies in moderation.

7. Get physical. No, I’m not talking about getting in a fist fight with Uncle Larry over the last bite of Nana’s stuffing. I’m talking about exercise. You know the deal. Exercise creates endorphins. Endorphins create happiness. It’s also a great way to eradicate stress and anxiety. If Aunt Mildred’s visit is starting to take a toll on your overall health and well-being, take a run around the block. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel. Oh, and feel free to scream the entire run, that might help too.

8. Have a less than perfect holiday. You’re not perfect and neither are your holidays. So why try to replicate your favorite seasonal movie by chasing after the illusion of “holiday perfection”. Skip the heart attack by not trying to create your favorite Judy Garland holiday. If time and sanity are at stake, buy the cookies at the local bakery (gasp), go pot luck for the family dinner and skip the holiday cards this year. You’ll find yourself with way more time, energy and calm.

9. Center yourself. I’m a huge proponent of meditation and have a daily practice. If you are at all interested, you should check out Russell Simmons’ introductory book on the subject entitled, Success Through Stillness. If you’re not a meditator, sometimes centering yourself is as easy as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Maye it’s spending some time by yourself, doing absolutely nothing at all (VEG out). Whatever your approach, take the time to center yourself so you can be present, peaceful and compassionate during the holidays.

10. Learn to say yes. You definitely want to make sure you have a must do/have/see list and be prepared to say no to competing priorities, but you also want to ensure you’re open to the little synchronistic surprises the universe has in store for you. Whether it’s saying yes to a loving moment with your significant other, enjoying an impromptu glass of nog with friends, taking moments to give thanks for all that you have or giving back to those less fortunate, building in a little flexibility to your schedule to participate in these universal gifts can only make your holidays brighter.

11. Schedule a second and third Holiday get together (if necessary). Listen, not everything needs to be done on the exact holiday itself. If you have a must see list that doesn’t allow visits with everyone by the time your holiday is over, schedule a visit the day after, over the weekend or in the New Year. Feverishly driving all over the city in a futile attempt to see everyone stresses you out, compromises the quality of your visits, jeopardizes innocent pedestrians and doesn’t bode well for your little niece when she accidentally pours her soda down the front of your new holiday sweater.

So, give yourself the gift of sanity this year. Remember to hold on to the true meaning of the holiday season, stay grounded, learn to say no, schedule appropriately and most importantly, take care of yourself first!

Have any additional advice to offer up on keeping your sanity this holiday season? Join in on the conversation by adding your comments below.

I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy holiday season! Peace, love and joy to you now and in 2015!

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