The time to think about how to stay sane over the holidays is neither while they’re happening nor after they’re over. If you want to stay sane—not just think about it without genuine intent—you’ll start thinking about how you want this season to be now. If you live alone, that may an easier job than if you have a family. Either way, the goal is to create the structure and balance you want and feel so strongly that you follow through.
When are you going to have time with yourself or with people you love? If you live alone, that doesn’t mean you can take self time for granted, especially if you have a million friends or family members insisting that you join them for a holiday event. Time by yourself is especially crucial if you’re an introvert, which I bet many of you are. Carve time into every day where you can hear yourself think and unwind.
If you have a spouse/partner or family, discuss what’s important to do over the holidays and what isn’t. Do you need to see all of your friends and family and attend every gathering? Make sure you’re saying yes because you want to go, not because someone will be angry if you don’t. Your kids don’t need to be busy every moment either. Down time is as good for them as it is for you. Give yourself a party or event limit. The worst thing you can do is to pressure yourself to accept every invitation.
Whereas structure is particularly important during busy times, paradoxically, this is when most folks give up their daily or weekly rituals. If you and your kids go skating, biking, or skiing on the weekends, keep up the activity or find another way to be active. Keep to your exercise schedule whether you’re home or traveling. Take walks and throw some exercise bands into your suitcase. As much as possible, build activity into as many days as you can. And, if you miss one, don’t throw in the towel. Just get back to keeping moving as soon as you can.
Keep yourself tuned into your appetite whether you’re alone or with friends. Not having a date New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean it’s fine to stock up on food and eat until you feel sick. Alternately, just because you’re at parties and buffets doesn’t mean you don’t want to respect your appetite signals and eat mindfully. Think about portion size and pace yourself. Remember how much you hate that day-after stuffed feeling.
Remember that your goal is to stay sane and proud during the holidays. Keep thinking about balance and structure and you’ll make it through alright. Promise yourself to stick to routines that are beneficial. You don’t need to do them perfectly or completely. Something is always better than nothing.