It’s that time of year when many of you will try to stay sane before and during the holidays. Here are ten tips for how to keep your cool instead of feeling overwhelmed.

In 10 tips to stay sane during the holidays, enjoy putting ornaments on the tree

Make Lists:

You know what needs to get done. The get-togethers. The preparation of the meal. The buying of presents. And on and on it goes.

But there will always be distractions you didn’t count on that will push you off schedule.

And that’s where lists come in.

In fact, if you’re hosting the Christmas event this year, you might order more than one notebook to keep yourself organized. And most of all, to help you remain sane.

Writing down lists

Or you may put everything on your phone to help and organize yourself. Either way is fine.

One notebook (or list on your phone) could be for recipes, ingredients to shop for, and when to start preparing food before the big meal. Another could be for gifts you need to buy. And so on.

Pace Yourself:

There’s only so much you can get done in a day. So don’t shop till you drop. Plan scheduled breaks where you sit down and relax with a cup of coffee or tea. Thumb through a magazine. Read a chapter from a book.

It is absolutely and vitally necessary that you take care of yourself.

Make Time For Your Loved Ones:

Yes, you’ll see them on the big day. But that’s when everyone’s there and you won’t have much time to spend with each loved one.

In 10 tips to stay sane during the holidays, have lunch with loved ones

Schedule lunches or date nights where the focus is on just you and them. If a college friend comes to town, plan on a few hours to spend catching up and enjoying one another’s company.

If you still have children at home, plan dates to spend time with each one. You might take them to lunch or out for ice cream.

Don’t Forget The Pets:

Your pets will pick up on your stress and perhaps become nervous as well. Sit down now and then and give them special attention. Talk to them.

They might not know exactly what you’re saying. But they understand the love in your voice.

Give love to your pets. They love you

Research shows that petting a dog lowers the stress hormone called cortisol.

The social interaction between people and their pets actually increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.

Know Your Spending Limit & Stick To It:

Yes, you’ll be tempted to buy expensive gifts that you can’t afford. So it might be better to order gifts online if you tend to be impulsive.

That way you can keep track of what you’ve purchased and remain within your spending limit.

Alcohol Isn’t The Answer:

A glass or two of wine won’t hurt. But don’t try to drown stress with more than you know is good for you.

In 10 tips to stay sane during the holidays, don't drink too much

Alcohol can relax you. But it can also induce anxiety and increase your stress level.

Alcohol is classified as a Central Nervous System Depressant, meaning that it slows down brain functioning and neural activity.

Try to limit yourself to one or two glasses.

Be Realistic:

They call it a holiday for a reason. So if you’re trying to do it all yourself, you’re not being realistic. Share the load.

Assign family members tasks they can help you with to make it a great holiday for everyone.

Walking in the woods is relaxing

Eat, Sleep & Exercise:

Try to eat balanced meals. Get the right amount of sleep. Find time to exercise.

A walk by yourself may be just what you need to unwind and unclutter your mind.

Enjoy the sights and sounds around you; the sounds of birdsong. Being in nature is relaxing.

Prepare Make-Ahead Meals:

At the end of each day during the holiday season, you’ll probably be exhausted.

Prepare casseroles for your family and stick them in the fridge or freezer. That way no one goes hungry. And you don’t have to figure out at the last minute what to serve them.

In 10 tips to stay sane during the holidays make casseroles ahead of meals

Just Say No:

There will be people who try to burden you with more than you can handle. Saying “yes” is a habit. It can also be an addiction.

When we’re children the word “no” is typically frowned on by parents.

But knowing when to say “no” is actually a learned skill. Know your time limitations and firmly say “no” when you have to.

Someone holding a sign that says no

There is a book that might help you. It is called “The Book of No: 365 Ways to Say it and Mean it―and Stop People-Pleasing Forever.”

If you take care of yourself during the holidays, everyone will be happier and less stressed. A holiday is a time meant for all to enjoy.

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  1. Thank you Brenda,
    a post I will save. This Thanksgiving my husband and I will stay home. We enjoyed connecting with family all over the U.S. via Skype and Duo to visit all. My niece and her husband had just bought a house and was hosting her Mom and Dad, Grandma and Uncle, two sisters with husbands, a brother-in-law and his wife and three young kids AND husband’s parents. Yup, that’s 14 people; three kids and Seven Dogs! Everyone brought dishes (worked out in advance) and a specially ordered 25 lb. turkey! Her in-laws also brought a Honey Baked ham among other treats. When my niece preheated the big oven for the bird, IT WOULDN’T HEAT! She sent her hubby and Mom to Vons for two smaller fresh birds! All turned out great with a disaster averted and an epic First Thanksgiving was had by all. Christmas will be more family including more kids, in-laws and friends.

  2. Lots of good remarks and comments too here today….if only when I was younger I had not tried to do so much…alone at that…not much help. Should have made things way smaller in every direction…might have kept me from falling ill each December too…or not…but at least I would have been less stressed. Now I do next to nothing, decorations are nearly nil, and being we are mostly homebound, it is actually a relief.

  3. You are so right Brenda about people (women – let’s be honest) stressing out over the holidays. We have been socialized for the most part to never say “no” to anyone, but to always say “yes.” Girls are raised to take care of everything, and to do it as perfectly as possible. Talk about inculcating Stress 101 into our little girls! We grow up with this burden of perfection always hanging over our heads like the Sword of Damocles. Then, we end up overwhelmed by all the things we have said “yes, I will take care of that” and frustrated that there are 100 things to do that we can’t possibly ever get to (unless we have an extra month)! There’s nothing wrong with asking family members to bring a dish, and assign them the dish (or even dishes) that they are best at making. My third sister makes the best potato salad I’ve ever tasted, bar none. My youngest sister makes great green bean and onion ring casserole; my second sister makes a seven layer salad to die for. And me – my specialty is grilling filets mignon, LOL. I’m also very good at mashed potatoes, but baked potatoes are much easier to make 🙂 Desserts are bought in the Deli section, but I refuse to serve “Cool Whip.” It’s real whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. When we have the rare family feast get-together, there’s always more food than we can eat and everybody gets to take home goody bags. Stressing out decorating the Christmas tree and mantel, that’s a different story. I knew I should have stopped watching Youtube videos of all those folks turning out expertly designed trees and mantels with probably a thousand dollars worth of fabulous ornaments, florals, picks and sprays, but I think I’m hopelessly addicted.

  4. Brenda this is definitely a post for many to bookmark. It is so easy to get caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle! Thanks for the tips. How and when is the move coming?

  5. Great tips, Brenda—thank you! This post helped me remember to stop and do two things: Take a deep breath…and pet our dog!!!

  6. All good tips today Brenda. There was a comment yesterday that struck a cord with me. I look forward to catching up with friends by reading their blogs. I too feel a void by not seeing work friends everyday. Everyone enjoy your day!

  7. When I saw the reminder to “make lists” it reminded me of how I pack to move and it’s worked well for me. Using this method you can pack up things you’re not going to use before moving day and stack the boxes in a corner until you move.
    I have a little notebook and I number each box on the outside, then list basically what’s in each box in the notebook. When I start to unpack I can go to my notebook and see where the items are and unpack that box.

    I actually saved my wedding ring using this method. I packed a load of boxes one day and when I went to take a shower I noticed my ring was gone and realized it had probably fallen off in one of the many boxes I had done that day. Rather than go through all those boxes (I packed 300 total — big house) I made note of it in my notebook next to the boxes I packed that day and when I unpacked I very carefully went through those particular boxes and found my ring caught up in the filling paper.

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