It’s all too easy to lose yourself during the busy holiday season and re-emerge in January feeling worn out and haggard. But it doesn’t have to be this way! The holidays can be a wonderful, energizing, and joyous time spent with friends and family. To help you stay centered this holiday season, I am sharing with you my Top Tips for Staying Sane This Holiday Season. Each week, for the next five weeks, I will reveal my favorite tips for cultivating health and wellness, even during the busiest of times.
Sanity Tip #1 – Planning Ahead
Planning ahead serves two purposes: It helps prevent last minute mishaps, and helps you get things done during the holiday season. From knowing what special occasions are coming up in the next month, to knowing exactly what ingredients you need for that killer pumpkin pie, planning can save your butt and help de-stress your life. Here’s how to keep everything straight & remain calm during this busy time of year.
Think Big Picture – Take a look at your calendar. Do you have activities and special events penciled in? If not, scheduling is step number one to staying organized during busy times.
There are plenty of electronic ways to stay organized, like iCal, or Google Calendar, but a good old-fashioned wall calendar works wonders too.
The important part of using a calendar is the ability to zoom-out and look at the next four weeks ahead of you. This can help you start planning what to do each day in preparation for upcoming events.
For example, if you know Thanksgiving is on Thursday, but you have family events scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday, then Monday is probably the best time for you to shop for Thanksgiving. Once you’ve decided that Monday is shopping day, pencil it in! That way, there’s slim chance it will be forgotten and pop back into your head at 11pm on Monday night.
Break Things Down – The holiday season involves lots of events and parties that can require a lot of preparation! To help yourself stay organized and avoid missing a step, break down your preparation into smaller manageable tasks. Then schedule those tasks into your calendar, as mentioned above.
For example, shopping for Christmas presents can be a daunting task.
Start by making a list of everyone you need to buy presents for. Brainstorm ideas of what you might purchase for them, and write your ideas next to their names.
Next, think about what would be required to purchase these gifts. Do you need to visit the mall or shopping center, or can your purchase online? Decide your plan of attack, and schedule it! Pick a date and time that you will hit the mall, and a second date & time when you will do your online shopping.
Don’t forget about all the little extras that go along with presents, too! Do you already have enough wrapping paper, bows, boxes, bags, tags, and cards? If not, pencil in a time to purchase those items as well.
Last, but not least, when will you wrap these presents? Yep, pick a time for that too. If you need to mail any gifts, determine the last possible date you can drop them in the mail, and make sure you have them ready to go by that time. Giving yourself “deadlines” can help you focus & prevent procrastination.
Planning the Day-to-Day- Do you ever lie your head down on your pillow at night and wonder what happened to the day? You had so many good intentions, but none of them got done!
Creating a daily plan can amp up your productivity and help you accomplish all of your goals. Really, you’ll feel like wonder woman (or super man)!
Planning your day actually starts the evening before. Get in the habit of keeping a notepad by your bed, and each night, jot down the things you would like to accomplish the next day.
Take a look at your list, and decide how many of these things are “must-do’s”, and how many can be put off until later in the week or month.
Next, schedule your “must-do’s” into your plan for the next day. Start by writing down what time you will wake up, and what you will be doing during each hour of the day. Even if you are just planning on lounging around for the morning, include that in your day plan.
When penciling in activities, always give yourself a generous buffer. If you anticipate that washing dishes will take 20 minutes, double that time, and block off 40 minutes in your schedule. Things never go exactly as planned, and giving yourself a buffer will help reduce stress & prevent over-scheduling of your day.
If your to-do list was too long to fit into one day, consider planning ahead a day or two. This can help calm your mind and help you fall asleep, knowing you will be able to finish all your tasks in the next few days.
Schedule Down Time – With so many things to do during this time of year, it can be easy to go-go-go and forget about self-care.
Part of planning ahead is planning time for you. Make sure that each day has at least 15 minutes of self-care built in. Spend these 15 minutes doing something purely for you. No multitasking while checking facebook or emails! Give yourself this time. You deserve it.
Great self-care ideas include taking a walk, enjoying a cup of tea on the patio, taking a nap, stretching, reading a book or magazine, meditating, enjoying a warm bubble bath, sketching, writing in a journal, or even just sitting in silence.
It doesn’t matter how you spend this time, as long as you are doing something that feeds your soul and re-energizes you. Self-care is key to feeling balanced and centered during the hectic holiday season.
Use these planning tips to help yourself stay focused and calm throughout the season, and enjoy every moment with friends and family.
Next Week’s Tip: Letting Go of Perfection