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4 Tips to Maintain Balance This Holiday Season

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Now that Halloween is behind us, we’re getting into the official holiday season. It’s a season that many of us look forward to, and we think of all the fun things we want to do this time of year:

Decorate all the spaces!

Bake all the delicious goodies!

See all the friends and family!

Buy all the things!

Believe me, I want to do these things too. But I need to keep the fun in moderation otherwise my sanity, my waistline and my wallet will suffer.

So how do we do temper these things in the season of merriment? No one wants a buzz kill at their Ugly Holiday Sweater party. How do we strike a balance without being accused of being a grinch? Take these tips into consideration as we head into the busiest time of the year.

1. Examine which events bring you real joy.

Do you dread your great aunt’s white elephant gift exchange every year because your uncle gets embarrassingly drunk every time? Do your children really need to see that overly expensive Christmas “experience,” the one you spend more than 50% of your time in line rather than enjoying the actual experience? There are only a few weekends between Thanksgiving and the new year. You don’t need to pack them full with something every weekend, especially if they are events you do not enjoy. This time of year is already stretched very thin between work holidays and school holidays. Also, life doesn’t stop just because it’s the holidays. Bills still have to be paid, chores still need to be done and oftentimes, those things are time and energy sucking enough. Things you decide to commit your time should bring you joy, not suck away at your soul. Pick a handful of things that you truly love doing (for me, it’s looking at Christmas lights and going caroling…yes, some people still do that!) and stick to that small list. Also, if you have a hard time choosing, remember that you will have next year to try those things!

2. Remember that social media is not real.

People like to put their best foot forward on social media, and the holidays are no exception. Yes, Susie Q may have made the cutest treats for her daughter’s teachers as Christmas gifts. I’m betting she didn’t post what a mess her kitchen was while making those treats, or that she spent more money on the dang ingredients than she would have had she just gone to the store and bought something equally as cute. And that adorable Christmas card she posted? Guarantee that sucker was taken when it was still a million degrees back in September and her children were less than thrilled to be in their sweaters in that heat. Comparison is the thief of joy, people. Keep that at the forefront of your mind.

3. Build boundaries ahead of time.

This kind of goes along with my first point, but I’m primarily thinking of this in terms of food/alcohol consumption and money. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good mulled wine while rocking my Christmas sweater, but this time of year can easily become excessive. Especially if you’re not used to going out regularly, it’s easy to get in over your head with celebrations. Plan to only go out once a weekend or whatever you know is healthy and tolerable for you. It’s easy to also get out of hand with budgeting, whether that is from gift-giving or going out more often than usual. I highly suggest making just a rough budget of how much you plan to spend on the people in your life (i.e. kids will have a budget of $100 bucks a piece, parents are $50, coworkers $25, etc.) so you have a ballpark estimate of what you’ll be spending, and try not to go over that. Remember that at the end of the day, this season is about spending time with those you love, not about pushing you to your financial limit.

4. Make time for you to rest and relax.

This is a holiday season after all. Holiday implies that there will be some restoration and relaxation. Build time into your schedule to take things easy, and cherish the simple things that make this season different from the rest: whether that is burning a cinnamon candle or listening to a crackling fire, singing your favorite seasonal songs or noticing the quiet sounds of winter, wearing soft, fuzzy socks and watching so-bad-it’s-good holiday made-for-TV movies.

It’s so easy to get carried away during the holidays. I know it happens to me too, but having some good boundaries around what you do and who you spend your time with will ultimately make your holidays that much more meaningful. Remember that self-care is not selfish, and you can’t pour from an empty cup. However you decide to use your time this upcoming holiday season, I hope you and yours make wonderful memories and find time to reconnect and find joy. ‘Tis the season, afterall.

Photo credit: nicoletaionescu/Getty Images

Originally published: November 8, 2019
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