With Thanksgiving behind us, the “official” holiday madness has begun. Here are my top nine methods for surviving the last weeks of 2013 and making it to the end of the year with your sanity intact! These tips work well for anyone who’s traveling this season (with or without a parent), hosting guests over the holidays, or having a quiet celebration at home.
Make this the year you generate a gift list (and budget) for family and friends and actually stick to it. I happen to perform best under pressure and love the euphoria of waiting to the bitter end to complete (and succeed at) a task. At the same time, however, I’m the first to admit that I’ve purchased gifts that were convenient for me to give but not necessarily appropriate for the recipients (which sort of undermines the point of gift giving). Also, I’ve severely overspent because of the time crunch, which meant my wallet really took a hit.
Commit to spending one hour creating that list within the first week of December.
Exercise can be incredibly cathartic and effective at relieving stress throughout the year. But during the holidays I typically jettison exercise from my schedule because I’m too stressed or tired to fit it in.
Let’s agree to hit the gym just twice a week this month—but we’ll do it every week in December. I know you hardcore exercise fiends will be in the gym every day, regardless of how many parties you attend, how much wine you drink, or how late you stay up. I admire your ability to maintain a pace that is definitely not my own reality anymore. That said, even if I can no longer find the time or energy to work out daily, I know that twice-a-week exercise will help keep my stress level down while I try to cram too much good cheer into one month.
Resolve to hit the gym twice a week–that’s it.
Let’s make a pact to tune out our electronic devices—and tune in to our families—for at least two hours a week. Even if spending time with the family is something you usually endure more than enjoy, be present at those moments. These times are a great opportunity to reconnect with the people you love and show them that they really are important in your life. (And if you’re not especially fond of those family members . . . well, consider this “quality family time” your penance for the holiday season.)
Spend two hours a week tuning out electronic devices and tuning in to our families.
Now that you’ve committed to spending focused time with your family, practice your deep-breathing exercises so you’re prepared for those moments when your loved ones drive you crazy. Those exercises also come in handy for dealing with the general stress of the season.
Deep breathing slows your heart rate and lets you clear your head. When you feel your hands clench and the hair on the back of your neck stand up, focus on taking deep breaths. Start by counting to four as you inhale and to five as you exhale, then increase those numbers as high as you can (without passing out). Focusing on your breathing lets you to disconnect from your stress, and after just a few minutes you’ll be steadier and ready to jump back into the fray with a clearer head.
Breathe deeply when you’re feeling overwhelmed, angry, or upset.
Keep practicing those breathing exercises and tune in again tomorrow, when I’ll share the rest of my tips for making it through this holiday season without going completely bonkers!