HolidaysLAs we move into the holiday season, you may feel anxious and stressed when you look at your growing to-do list, commitments you’ve made to family and friends, and the pressure to be happy.  Below are five strategies that I use to help me think clearer, and truly enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

Stick to a Budget

Don’t get caught up buying expensive decorations and gifts. Sure, we all want our house to look like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and to experience friends and family’s excitement after opening a gift that we gave them that isn’t for once an ugly sweater. The reality of it is, however, the expensive decorations and gifts won’t be remembered, and they also don’t guarantee a good time. What will be cherished for a lifetime are the laughs and memories made. So save some time and money, and allow yourself to relax and make memories!

Learn to Say “No” or “Yes” 

It’s difficult to juggle your career, children, school, and friends, and with the added stress of shopping, cooking, cleaning, and prepping for the fast-approaching holidays it can seem overwhelming. During the season of giving, it may seem selfish to say “no” to family and friends’ requests such as watching the neighborhood kids or making a special trip out to the store because someone else forgot to. It’s OK to put yourself first sometimes. The better you take care of yourself the easier it will be for you to care for others.

Being able to say “no” can be just as difficult as saying “yes”. Especially for those who like to be in control.  When someone offers to help prepare a meal or cleanup after, let them! You’ll be surprised at how much more time you will have to relax and enjoy the season.

Take a Breather

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season that when the holidays are over we wonder how they went by so fast. To be able to appreciate this time of year a little more, make sure to take time to yourself daily.  Spend a few minutes before starting your day by meditating or practicing yoga. Break up your day by listening to some music and drinking a warm cup of tea, and try finishing your day by journaling. Recap on the day and mentally prepare for the morning to come.  Whatever it is you decide, make sure it’s something YOU enjoy. Once the season picks up it will be hard to get into a routine, so start now and gradually work your way into it.

Set Aside Differences

If your family is like mine, you probably find it’s hard to believe you’re all related. There’s the crazy uncle with the terrible jokes you are forced to laugh at, the mother-in-law that has different ideas on how you should be raising your kids, the overly competitive sibling that is ALWAYS right (guilty), and the cousin who is still bitter about a disagreement you had 10 years ago.  Instead of dwelling on these differences while you await their arrival, try to acknowledge them.  It’s those differences that make the holidays unique and memorable.  Take them in, giggle in your head (or out-loud), and continue enjoying your day.

Don’t Lose Perspective

Remember what the holidays are all about! It’s a time for enjoying company and making memories. In five years from now, you’re not going to remember the gifts given or received, but you will remember the people you spent time with and conversations you had. The less time you spend stressing over the “perfect” holiday, the more time you have to enjoy it.