Staying Sane Through the Holidays

By Liz Adam
Life Coach

Somebody asked me yesterday if I was ready for Christmas. I replied, perhaps a little too bluntly, “No.”

I am highly qualified to write a column on trying to get yourself and a lot of other things together in less time that you’d like to have left before Christmas. Every year, I have the best of intentions to finish shopping and whatnot early so I can enjoy a more relaxing December but to date, this has yet to happen. It seems a number of other whatnots pop up unexpectedly around the same time of year, distracting me from my Christmassy lists. Then, like clockwork, around the middle of December I start to feel a little alarmed about how much is left to do and how little time is left to do it in.

So if, like me, you find yourself in a “final countdown” sort of situation, you’re not alone. Let’s look at some ideas to keep ourselves sane leading up to and all the way through the holiday season.

Focus on what is most important. What really, really needs to be done? is a question to ask ourselves before we start shooting haphazardly at our still-to-do list.

It is well worth the few minutes it takes to do a review or two of our plans along the way. Tasks can be sorted into three categories:

1- What for sure has to be done, 2- What would be good to have done, 3- What would be nice to have done.

Part of what can slow down our preparation process is doing the things that would be nice to do as they are generally more enjoyable to work on than the things that absolutely must be done.

Rewrite your list with clearly numbered priority rankings. Try not to start something until you’ve finished the task ahead of it. Sometimes this just can’t be done as we might be waiting on someone or something, but try to just tackle one thing at a time to protect yourself from the frustrated, overwhelmed and scattered types of feelings.

We can still take another swing at simplifying the season even this late in the game. Holiday preparations tend to snowball and tangle us up in them. When we notice ourselves jumping from one job to another without thinking it’s time to take our heavy foot off the gas for a minute and put both feet up somewhere. Even five minutes of thinking things through can save us both time and energy (and often some money, too!)

Is there something you can decide not to do this year not with a feeling of defeat but with a sense of wise decisiveness? To help us figure out what’s most important it can be insightful to toy with questions like: If I could only buy one gift this year, who would it be for? If I could only visit one person, who would it be? If I could only send one card, who would it be to?

Once the actual holidays arrive we can stay sane by not expecting our celebrations, ourselves, or anyone else to be perfect.