Finding your holiday zen amidst the madness
If you’re like me you have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. On one hand there are lots of fun events and parties and on the other hand there are a million things to do that are not so fun. Maybe you end up spending far too much time in airports, or with difficult relatives and over-obligate yourself because you feel guilty saying no. By January you’re exhausted, your nerves are fried, and you’re just glad the holidays are over so you can return to your normal routine.
I can relate! December is my birthday month which I love because it means I get to enjoy all the lights and decorations, sans work or expense, and there are plenty of excuses to get dressed up. But as an entrepreneur it also means getting out all my business cards and gifts in addition to those for my personal life, while still making time for parties, family gatherings, and all the everyday stuff that doesn’t stop just because it’s the holidays.
After a few years of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, I decided enough was enough… I wanted to ENJOY the holidays for once without waking up on January 1st feeling like I’d aged 5 years in 6 weeks! Sound familiar? Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could actually enjoy the holiday season for once? Well, you absolutely can! Below I’m sharing a few of the simple tools that I use to help you reduce your stress and create some time for fun and relaxation.
#1 – Block Out Down Time on Your Calendar
- Schedule non-negotiable time for yourself on your calendar. If you don’t block off that time, it won’t happen! Use this time to relax and unwind, connect with your spouse or girlfriends (only people who energize you) or get a massage. (This is especially important if you’re spending the holidays with in- laws or family members who aren’t you’re 1st choice of people to hang with!)
- Don’t sacrifice your regular workouts or self-care routines to accommodate others. You-time is crucial because it reduces stress and keeps you grounded. Go to your yoga class, do some meditation or take a walk outdoors… whatever makes you feel good. It’s just like the concept of those emergency air masks that fall from the ceiling on the airplane… you’re supposed to put on your own mask before assisting others. If you can’t breathe, you’ll be no good to anyone else!
#2 – Get Your Beauty Sleep
- Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you get enough sleep you’ll be less stress-reactive and more productive.
- Avoid backlit screens for at least an hour before bed and keep the lights in your house as dim as possible after sunset. This will help you wind down and will encourage melatonin production to help you sleep more soundly.
- Sleep is when your body repairs itself so don’t skimp on rest! If you wake up unrested and you have a choice between getting up for a 5:30 workout or sleeping for another hour, choose sleep.
- The more tired and stressed out you are the more likely you are to crave junk food and overindulge. Stress and lack of sleep also wreak havoc on your skin and metabolism, so make sleep and self-care a priority. Your complexion and your figure will thank you!
#3 – Don’t Over-Obligate Yourself
- The jig is up… you are NOT Martha Stewart! And unless you have a full staff to execute your every holiday whim, no one expects you to be, so stop putting unrealistic expectations on yourself. People will remember the quality time they spent with you, not how perfect your centerpiece was.
- Make a list of who and what are most important to you to help you prioritize where you spend your time.
- Choose your obligations and events carefully and decline anything that you don’t absolutely have to do or don’t really want to do. And be honest with yourself here… Will the world end if you don’t show up to the umpteenth holiday fundraising party for your kids’ friend from soccer’s mom’s charity? It’s unlikely.
- Already overbooked? Politely bow out of any unessential activities. You can always reschedule get-togethers when things slow down after the holidays.
#4 – Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
- Hire professional cleaners if you’re hosting people at your house. There are so many reasonable cleaning services out there like Handy or TaskRabbit and they can often provide same-day services.
- Use grocery delivery services like Instacart, Amazon Fresh, or Amazon PrimeNow to save time. Seriously, Instacart has made my life SO much easier, I can’t recommend it enough!
- Assign responsibilities to your kids and get them involved in food prep if possible. They’ll have fun and they’ll be more likely to try new foods if they helped make them.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! We’d love to hear what worked for you and what you’ve learned this year about self-care.
We all have so much to be grateful for and this is a great time to practice slowing down a little to reflect on that.
Now go and have a wonderful holiday season!
Jeannie Oliver is a certified Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Personal Trainer and classically trained chef. She develops individualized strategies for her clients, empowering them to reshape their relationship with food, feel great about their bodies and transform their lives – deliciously!