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Mendo Lake Family Life

10 Tips for Staying Sane This December

By Christina Katz

Here come the holidays barreling down the calendar track. If your holly-jollies start running on fumes, these steps will remind you how to hit the reset button so you can make a quick comeback.

Stop it. The frenetic pace is undeniable at this time of year—planning, shopping, parties, travel. However, every day you get to choose whether to act, react, respond, or detach. If you often feel like you can’t invoke your power of choice, and if you find yourself reacting to situations you would prefer to detach from, then maybe you need a break. You’ll know you need a break if you feel consistently grumpy and stressed out. When this happens, take 10 minutes to re-evaluate your day. No matter how much you still have to do, anyone can spare a few minutes.

Drop it. You may be attempting to accomplish too much. The more we try to jam into our waking hours, the less we feel like we are in the flow. If we are pushing all day, using will to power through a series of tasks, it may feel as though each task grows larger and more daunting than the last. The key is to stop pushing. Constant striving turns quickly into exhaustion. So drop the willpower and try to relax yourself back into a more natural flow of accomplishing tasks instead.

Sit down. Find a chair or sit on the floor against a wall. For a few moments, relax and do nothing except breathe. Breathing slowly and deeply is a shortcut back to sanity when you feel stressed. If something of tragic proportions happens, like forgetting to put the turkey out to thaw or neglecting to mail a package early enough to arrive on time, just keep breathing. When you panic and start berating yourself, it’s game-over for your holiday spirit. So, when inevitable stresses strike and mistakes happen, simply sit, breathe, and collect yourself.

Appreciate something. Now that you are calm, cool, and collected, take a couple of moments to appreciate something. You may feel grateful for something right in front of you, such as a pretty wreath or a warm coat, or for something more abstract. Whatever you genuinely feel positive about counts. Stay in a state of appreciation until you feel a smile come across your face.

Let go. No doubt, once you stop thinking about good things, a few stressful items that have been lined up waiting for your attention will pop into your mind and start jumping up and down and waving their arms. But here’s the thing: You just got yourself into a pretty good place. Do you really want to go back to square one all over again? I’m sure you don’t. Milk feeling relaxed for as long as possible—and don’t feel bad about it. If nagging worry keeps dogging you, just acknowledge the concern and gently wave it to the side as though clearing a butterfly from your path.

Act thoughtfully. Ease back into your day, moving forward mindfully. Drop the list for now. What is the single most important thing to do next? Intersperse actions with self-care. Do a task then put on some cheerful tunes. Do another then light a wood wick candle. Do another then put the water on for tea. Take short breaks after completing a series of tasks. Have small snacks throughout the day so you don’t overeat at mealtime. Perhaps take out your list later on so you check things off. Remember, you set the tone for your holiday. And you can stay in charge by taking excellent care of yourself. 

10 Ways to Nurture Yourself
1. Go to bed by 10 p.m. each night.
2. Get up an hour earlier and have some daily you-time.
3. Watch all your favorite holiday movies.
4. Take a long winter’s nap.
5. Put a stack of inspirational books on your nightstand.
6. Write down your blessings.
7. Make a list of gifts you want and distribute it.
8. Take a long, hot bath with music and bath salts.
9. Listen to inspirational talks, podcasts, or books on tape.
10. Say kind things to yourself all day long.

Author, journalist, and writing coach Christina Katz loves to savor the days during the most magical time of the year.