To let go of “being busy” is to shut the door on becoming a scrooge. As the holidays are upon us, to let go of “busy” during the holidays is a hard-earned victory and a step toward having more to savor, more to enjoy and more for which to be grateful.

When we let go of “busy,” we welcome balance. A balance of what we have to do and what we want to do, what we want to give to others and what we must give to ourselves, a balance of partaking and resting, accepting and refraining. All of which can be pleasurable.

1.Turn off the default decision-making

Why serve turkey on Thanksgiving if you don’t like turkey? Why stay up until the last minute of the old year when what you really want to do is wake up in the new year well-rested? Traditions and expectations during the holiday season are ubiquitous, and while it may appear easier to simply go along, remember the holidays are meant to be enjoyed and that doesn’t exclude you. Go to bed early on New Year’s Eve and wake up with the sun. Truly, a fresh start. And forget the turkey and instead curate a seafood feast, or anything else your guests would love and is cause for celebration. 

2. Create your own traditions

Make the eve of the eve (Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, etc.) a special occasion. Plan a yearly gathering of distant friends or family who come to town each year gather at a special locale — the Ritz or something akin, that favorite local diner, or cross country illuminated night skiing. Choose something that doesn’t require major expense or preparation but is certain to be something to look forward to for everyone.

3. Travel

Last Thanksgiving with my week off from teaching, I traveled to England. The fares were cheaper, the accommodations were a steal, and I returned from my stay along the Bristol Channel in northern Devon rested and ready to step into the holiday season with a bit more bounce in my step. And no, I did not eat turkey.

4. Chill out

Literally, get outside or go somewhere where bundling up in the most luxuriously soft scarf, stocking cap and gloves are required. Sit, stroll, or ski, and then come home and savor a cup of dark hot chocolate made with whole milk, a smidge of heavy cream and a tablespoon of espresso.

5. Adopt monotasking

While multitasking was designed to aid us in creating a more productive life, it actually hinders us in doing so. Not only does it distract us from the present, which is where we will always be, but it unnecessarily lengthens projects, increases stress and doesn’t allow for amazing moments with the people we love and the tasks we enjoy to materialize.

6. Enjoy a silent night

Epidemiologists have proven that there is a correlation between high blood pressure and chronic sources of noise. Perhaps the holiday music doesn’t bother you, but the multiplied moments of gatherings and chatter and that one particular holiday song being played one too many times reaches the unofficial definition of chronic holiday noise. It is impossible to be calm when everything around us is cacophonous, and our body medicinally needs regular moments of silence.

7. Be Stocked for Moments

The holidays tend to unconsciously welcome hopes of magic which opens up the door to opportunities for memorable moments. Whether it is sitting by the fire, having delicious nibbles for guests who happen to stop by and losing all track of time as the conversation dances along. In order to cultivate such moments, take a minute to do a little prior planning. Stock your cupboard with quality chocolate so that you can whip up a decadent sipping chocolat chaud, pick up a most wonderful bourbon for those few family members or friends who would easily sit down and chat if they had something to hold and savor. Have cookies on hand for the kids and have your preferred holiday music at the ready. In other words, when we plan for such moments, while we can’t guarantee they will happen, we can take advantage should the moments present themselves.

Finding balance during the holiday season allows us to feel at ease so that we can be present, we can breathe deeply, we can be appreciative and we can partake in moments that once they have passed, we can relive over and over again in our minds and carry them with us for as long as we would like. When we find the happy medium between bored and busy, we’ve found our sweet spot.

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