When we first think of the holiday season, we may feel excited and festive and then reality hits and we can be left with feeling overwhelmed, or sad and tired. Why not make a point to create a little balance in your life this year so you can truly enjoy the festivities.

1) KEEP EXPECTATIONS MODERATE – you don’t have to have the perfect meal, perfect gifts and perfect interaction amongst relatives.  Is it really important to decorate every room in your house or have the full holiday spread including appetizer, several main entrees and desserts? This year as I thought of heaving and pulling and pushing the huge container with my tree in it from the attic down the narrow ladder and remembering I almost fell last year, I decided I could get by without the huge tree. So I used a little tree and decorated just a portion of my house. It’s lovely. I smile every time I walk in the door at my quaint corner of holiday cheer. You don’t have to do EVERYTHING this season.

2). DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT – life has a way of changing and this holiday season may be different than last due to the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a move or a change in income. Doing the same tradition of celebrating may make you feel sad and more aware of the absence of your loved one or a change in your family, so do something different. Create a different tradition. After I divorced a few years ago, holidays are definitely different. My kids still come home on Christmas Eve and some of our tradition will be the same but I’m planning some games and fun activities to make it different as well. If you’re missing a loved one find a positive way to remember that person so you can laugh and be grateful for how they blessed your life.

3) LEAN ON YOUR SUPPORT – it’s always easier to deal with busy and stressful times when there’s someone to lean on. Make a point to set up a lunch date or a shopping afternoon with a friend. If you see a therapist, be sure to keep your appointment this month even though you’re busy. Keep your exercise going if that’s the way you deal with stress, attend church more often or stick with your meditation schedule if that keeps you balanced. Make time for the things that bolster you up!

4) FORGET THE UNIMPORTANT THINGS – Does your kitchen floor really need to be scrubbed by hand before company comes? It’s ok to leave your clean laundry in the basket, tucked into your closet before you open presents. Give yourself some wiggle room and don’t worry about the little things that would take a lot of time.

5) ASK FOR HELP – we all have busy lives and no one judges if you ask them to bring a side dish to Christmas dinner…….. and if they do, that isn’t your issue. Asking family to clean up the house while you cook gives everyone a chance to contribute, even if those family members are “guests.”

6) PACE YOURSELF – a friend was telling me of all the holiday parties she had this month. Later, she mentioned she had skipped a party that she was attending more out of obligation than anything. Did you know you can skip a Christmas party?? If you have a full calendar and you are running non-stop, you don’t have to attend everything; I give you permission. It’s also OK to leave a party early if you have things to do at home or want to get to bed at a decent time. It’s OK. Take care of yourself.

7) STICK TO YOUR BUDGET – I’m probably the worst when it comes to wanting to shower my kids with gifts. I start with a budget and then end up spending a little more on one (because I found something really cool) then feel like I need to increase spending on the other 3 to make it fair and “even”, and then I go crazy on stocking stuffers! Make a budget and stick to it. Holidays can be stressful enough without having to deal with the credit card bills in January. Gift cards are perfectly fine and who doesn’t like a gift card where they can go shopping without paying for it? Save time and the tendency to overspend by giving gift cards, at least for part of your gifts.

8) SCHEDULE IN THE BASICS – healthy eating, exercise, down time, 6-7 hours of shut eye, meditation, gratitude journal. These basic activities keep me centered and are at the core of who I am; when I throw these to the side, I’m not as present or effective with anything else I do. I can’t really express “Happy Holidays” with authenticity if I’m out of balance and completely drained. Schedule in your basic needs and enjoy the craziness of the holidays with fun and excitement.

Most of all, enjoy your Holiday time and never hesitate to reach out if I can help you find some balance in your life.

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Christie Ryan Fitness