It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or is it? 


     The holidays are right around the corner and for some, this can be a source of joy and happiness while for others it can be a period of conflict and sadness. It’s a hectic time and if you’re not careful you can burn out before the New Year even begins. 
     But truth be told, the holidays can come in as fast as they go. There’s holiday parties, baking, shopping, gift-giving, children’s school activities, office parties, church bonanzas and events galore. There’s extra eating, snacking and drinking and less downtime, sleeping, and self-care. And if you’re not careful you could blink an eye and miss it all.
     So while everyone around you is lacing up their tennis shoes and getting ready for the holiday madness I suggest you slow down and take it all in. Take a step back and assess what is most important. With just a little planning and some extra self-care, this could be your most meaningful season.
 Here are a few suggestions to keep your holiday season healthy and sane.
1. Plan Ahead

​​Sit down with your family or significant other and plan out the whole month of December. Plan the activities that are most important (allow every family member to choose one) and then allot specific days that are DO NOTHING DAYS.
When these days come along assess how you feel that morning and decide how you’d like to fill them then. These days should not be filled with to-do lists and chores they should be filled with whatever your heart desires at that very moment. Use them to lounge around and watch holiday movies, bake cookies or go get a massage. But plan them as nothing and use them for what your body needs.

2. Don’t Get Caught in the Holiday Trap
Don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. It’s easy to get sucked into the madness of having to buy the best gift, or having to attend all of the holiday parties, or having our home fully decorated.  When you search to attain holiday perfection you reach the opposite which is holiday burn out. Instead, remind yourself that there is no way to achieve holiday perfection before you succumb to the holiday frenzy.
Set yourself up for success by asking yourself what are your biggest stressors during the holiday season? If it’s shopping, plan your shopping at a time when the stores will be less crowded or try doing your shopping online, from the comfort of home. If your biggest stressor is time, focus on where you are over-committing yourself. Practice saying the word NO if you are aware that you’re overextending yourself.

3. Self Care, Self Care & More Self Care
It’s important to not let your own needs fall to the wayside during the holiday season. You should continue your days as you would throughout the year with your regular exercise and sleep schedule.
If you know that you’ll be spending your weekends celebrating then you should save your extra calories for the weekend. Too often, we fall off the wagon and think we’ll just get back on it next year. But we fail to recognize that our daily choices regarding food and alcohol affect our mood and energy throughout the day. So before you decide to spend the whole month of December celebrating think about how you want to feel the next day. As well as going into the next year.
4. Give Yourself a Present, the Present

​​ Take it easy and allow yourself to truly experience the gift of the holiday, the present moment.  The holidays can be stressful but they don’t last forever. Don’t allow yourself to become so overwhelmed with keeping up with the Jones’s that you miss the small moments that matter most. Spend more time relishing the delight on your children’s faces when they help you bake, or spend more nights walking outside and observing the holiday lights.
Spend extra time in the moment and less time in your head thinking about what’s next. In the end, you’ll look back at your holidays and all of those little moments will be your most cherished memories, and what beautiful memories those will be to bring with you into the new year.
     While the holidays can be delightful, they can also be filled with anxiety and angst for what’s to come. But with a little planning and lots of self-care, we’re guaranteed to have full hearts this holiday season and a beautiful feeling that will last throughout the year.

And isn’t that the best way to start the holiday season?