If the holidays are already stressing you out, here are a few handy tips to help you out:

-Stay sane by setting boundaries.  Identify what things you love about the holidays and what you hate.  What stresses you out, what brings you peace?  Who do you want to be around, who do you want to avoid?  Plan your schedule around doing what makes you happy as often as possible.  Don’t apologize for things like:

  • wanting to only spend 2-3 hours at a party
  • avoiding a family event you go to every year
  • turning a major meal that you usually host into a potluck
  • spending time going to look at decorated houses (even if you are the only one who wants to go – get yourself a fancy latte and really take your time.  If it makes you happy, then schedule some time for it)
  • taking time out to find some silence at least once a day (long bath, long walk, long nap)

-Say you are going shopping or to run errands.  Instead, go to a matinee.

-Use gift cards you got in the past to buy presents for people this year.

-Don’t know what to get someone?  A card full of lottery and scratch tickets has the POTENTIAL to be the most amazing gift ever!  (Just don’t get mad if they win and don’t share it with you.  It was a gift…as soon as it left your hands, it belonged to them and they can do what they like with it)

-When you can’t stand being around certain people anymore, go help out in the kitchen.

-If your beliefs around this holiday/Christmas season clash with someone else’s, cut them some slack.  Be joyful and kind.  Be giving and compassionate.

-To all major dinners, wear clothes that are a little too big for you.  Trust me.  If you aren’t allowed to wear sweat pants, this is the next best thing.

-It’s never too late to start your own “traditions”.  Maybe it is a 3 hour stretch where everyone unplugs completely and has to choose between playing outside, reading or playing board games.  Maybe it is “ugly sweater attire to Christmas Eve dinner”.  Maybe it is gathering around with popcorn to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Whatever it is, you can do it this year – and declare it a tradition from now on.

-Take some video footage when people are in good moods.  Ask people about their favorite Christmas memory, tell a joke, sing a song…anything.  If anyone in your footage this year is no longer with us next year…you will be glad you did.

-If you spent too much this year, start looking around your house for things you could sell in the new year and put the money on your credit card.

-If you absolutely HAVE to spend time with people you loathe/fear/resent…ensure that time is limited.  Hang out in different rooms.  Sit far away from them.  Leave the room or the home when it gets too overwhelming.  Fake illness, I don’t care.  This is the season of giving – so give yourself permission to take care of yourself.

If nothing else helps you feel better, there is always this: