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Hello Dear Readers,

It’s almost Christmas! We’re supposed to be joyous at this time of year. Instead, we often find ourselves frazzled, overwhelmed, irritable, and exhausted. Here are my tips for how to stay happy and sane during the holidays.

1) Focus on your actual priorities. Most women I know would love to have a gorgeous tree, a sparkling home, and perfectly-wrapped packages. They spend hours marking off recipes they want to try, and accept invitations to the holiday events and parties they’d love to attend. I realize Martha Stewart makes this all look easy, but Martha has a staff. Plus, imagine you had a fairy godmother who waved her magic wand and made your home, meals, and gifts look perfect–what then? Is that what the holidays are really about–looking perfect? If your answer is yes, then by all means run around trying to out-Martha Martha. But if what’s really important to you is spending time with your loved ones, spend time with them! Decide that two cookie varieties are just as good as five. That decorating just your living room is enough. And as for the presents? Everyone likes gift bags because you can reuse them. Done! I’m not saying you shouldn’t do any holiday chores, but focus on the ones that are most important to you and forget about the rest. Not even Martha can do it all–and she has staff!

2) Let stuff go. Going to my parents’ house for Christmas used to be a nightmare. Why? I always brought up old hurts and grudges, which usually resulted in tears and/or epic fights. Happy holidays, indeed. While those conversations were important, the holidays were not the right time to have them. You don’t need to let inebriated Uncle Al grab your breast “by accident” again or let your sister make yet another snarky comment about your weight, but in general, try to lighten up during the holidays. You’ll have a better time, and so will everyone else. Everyone’s human and we all do or say stupid things. Sometimes forgiveness is the best gift you can give.

3) Take a holiday from technology. iPhones, iPads, laptops, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. These are all great tools when used responsibly, but they also create barriers when it comes to really connecting with the people we love. Why not declare Christmas a technology-free zone? Talk to your long-distance relatives the old-fashioned way…by phone. Bonus points for using a landline! Play board games with your nearest and dearest, or go play in the snow. Cuddle up and watch a movie. Connect with the people who are closest to you, while ignoring your eight hundred Facebook Friends for a day. I challenge all of you to take a technology holiday on Dec 25th. Let me know how it goes.

4) Tell your inner critic to suck it. The holidays are not a time to fret over the amount of calories in Grandma’s gravy, or to beat yourself up over every cookie consumed. They’re not a time to hide your face in photographs because your hair isn’t perfect. Wear your most comfortable pair of pajamas, throw your hair into a ponytail, and eat whatever the hell you want. Let peace on earth include inner peace, too. That is a real gift you can give to yourself.

5) Move. I know it seems crazy to suggest squeezing in something else during this time of year, but one of the reasons we feel so frazzled is that we completely disregard caring for ourselves during the holidays. A little intense exercise, be it for ten, twenty, or thirty minutes, eases stress, boosts our immune system, and produces seratonin, which makes us feel happier. Since many people are prone to depression at this time of year, getting some exercise is crucial. The next time you’re ready to scream with frustration, go for a brisk walk instead. You won’t regret it.

Happy holidays to all my readers! What are your tips for staying sane and happy during the holiday season? I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for reading!
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  1. Mystic_Mom

    A great list, and full of wise words my friend! Have a very blessed Christmas!

  2. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks very much, MM! And the same to you. 🙂

  3. Cee

    Great tips! Trying to look for the positives since I left everything until the last minute and now I’m too sick to do all the things I wanted to do. But Christmas will come no matter what!
    I agree with the tech-free Christmas except skype which is a wonderful way to chat with family you aren’t able to be with for the holidays, especially the little ones who aren’t the greatest phone conversationalists 🙂 We can even open gifts together that way!
    Merry Christmas, Holli!

  4. Chris

    Alcohol. 🙂

  5. Holli Moncrieff

    @ Cee Bee: I feel your pain. I must have spent eight hours wrapping gifts today, and I’m still not done. As for Skype, as long as technology is used to bring people together instead of keeping them apart, it’s all good. I trust most people will be able to tell the difference.

    @ Chris – Funny, that’s never worked for me. But to each their own. 🙂

  6. Michelle D. Argyle

    The best thing I ever did was buy my stationary bike! It has really, really helped me this winter so far to stay active and start and continue a daily exercise system. I feel so much better these days. Such great advice you have here. I should have read it all earlier! But I was too busy taking the technology break. 🙂

  7. Holli Moncrieff

    That’s awesome, Michelle. Isn’t it incredible what a difference exercise can make in our lives? And yet, it’s so easy to keep putting it off.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better. I’m sure taking a technology break has something to do with that, too. Happy New Year!


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