I say it every year once Thanksgiving arrives: how are we already in the holiday season? As I’m writing this, it’s early December and the holiday party invites are rolling in. Today I received a save the date for a New Year’s Eve party. Yesterday, I was asked to join a cookie exchange group (bold move considering I’m a terrible baker). And I haven’t even thought about putting the tree up yet.
With more on my plate than ever, I’m taking a more relaxed and mindful approach to the holidays and letting perfection take a back seat for once. My only goal? That the people in my life feel seen and appreciated. Plus, I want to make sure that what I love most about the holidays—the connection, celebration, giving back, joy, and rest—is present and woven throughout.
Here are 6 ways I’m staying mindful and keeping the holidays stress-free this season.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
More People, Less Gatherings
Anyone else’s calendar filling up with holiday parties, family gatherings, and events? I’m at the point where I’ve started punting dinners into January just so I’m not overbooked. This year, instead of trying to squeeze it all in, I’m making myself available for 1-2 nights centered around a holiday event in town and inviting as many pals as I can to meet there. (Bonus points for family-friendly events so they don’t have to find a sitter.) This approach keeps my calendar a bit less overwhelming, and I get to see more friends as well as bring new friends together.
Less Gifting, More Giving Back
No matter the time or season, I LOVE buying gifts for people I love. And while that won’t necessarily change, rather than contribute to a ton of extra waste, risk giving a pal something they might not like or need, or stress about the right gift, I’m taking the approach of donating to an organization I know my friend or family member would love and sharing a beautiful note on why I chose the organization on their behalf.
Clear My January Calendar
Much like my approach to making plans the day before and the day after any trip, I like to clear my calendar for the first 10 days of January. I’ve done this for years and it makes the re-entry back to work and social life feel really incredible when I don’t have back-to-back plans on the books. Blocking out 10 days gives me space to prioritize myself and ease back into a schedule.
Ask For Help
Like many, I have a hard time asking for help. It’s rooted in the fact that I couldn’t fathom inconveniencing anyone—particularly during this time of year. But I know how good it feels to help others, and I’m choosing to lean into it this year. So often I get a text or a message asking if I need anything from the grocery store and I usually always do. It’s amazing how one small gesture from a friend or family member can save me an entire hour or more.
Life hack: getting good rest will lead to a clear mind, a more easeful state, and you’ll quite literally feel less stressed thanks to decreased cortisol levels. We talk a lot about sleep over here, but as the holiday season requires more of my time and energy, I find I need it now more than ever. It always feels like a mad dash up until Christmas Day and knowing I’m going home to be with family, I want to feel refreshed and present for the time I get with them.
Making Time for Me
Between the many obligations and gatherings, I need a lot of personal time to recharge. That looks like starting my mornings on the trail, getting a little movement in during travel, and excusing myself during a trip to watch a show alone or grab a coffee solo for a change of scenery. It’s important to give yourself time to just be. I have a tendency to move through life and experiences quickly. Anytime I can slow down, I find that I’m more present, rested, and happy.