Do you find that the month of December brings not only joy but also additional stress as you add more activities to an already full plate? It’s easy to get caught in the dreaded “shoulds” of this time of year in an effort to create memorable holiday experiences.

Throughout the year we women often overload our lives with work, family, community activities, household needs, and more. We juggle actual responsibilities and schedules (our own and other’s) to the point that there’s no time left for self care. And to most women, this feels like what they’re supposed to be doing, even when it’s clear there’s just too much going on at once.

We know that if we don’t take care of ourselves by limiting and prioritizing the balls we have in the air, sooner or later we’re going to drop them.  What would it be like to experience this December with a plan for self care? Here are a few tips on how to avoid overload during the holidays and create a calm and enjoyable holiday for yourself and your loved ones.

  1. Decide what’s most important and make sure you do it
    When we accept that we “can’t do it all” and begin to choose just the activities that are most important to us we free ourselves to enjoy them more. Trying to do too much fills our heads with endless thoughts about details for upcoming activities, robbing us of the pleasure the current moment offers.  Make sure you take time to enjoy the things that bring you peace and joy at this time of year and say no to the things that drain you.
  2. Create and use a “pause practice”
    Racing from one activity to the next we can miss the magic moments that are abundant at this time of year. Consider creating a habit of pausing throughout the day to receive the moment. Reading something inspirational in the morning to ground yourself before the day’s busyness sets in or pausing before you eat to give silent thanks may feel right to you. Even just taking three intentional breaths before you dive into the next thing on your to-do list will center you in the moment. Meditative moments and intentional breathing slow you down and help you receive the gift this moment offers.
  3. Schedule self care
    Calendars are our friend and help keep us organized as we go about the work and activities of full lives. They can also be our enemy if we allow them the upper hand. You are in charge of how you schedule your days. Be sure to carefully consider each commitment you make and make a conscious decision whenever possible to allow buffer time between appointments. Buffer time provides you with much needed breathing room to move calmly from one activity to the next and helps us arrive calm, cool, and collected. As you fill your December calendar be sure to add activities that nurture you. Perhaps a visit to the salon or spa to pamper yourself, or time for a fun evening out with a friend to laugh and simply be together is in order. Schedule the things that fill your heart, comfort you, and leave you feeling deeply happy.  If you plan for it, it will happen. Likewise, be open to taking advantage of spontaneous opportunities for fun as they appear.

We are all familiar with the stress that this busy time of year creates in our minds and bodies. Our heart and spirit are also affected as we are reminded of someone or something that’s missing. We realize that the “picture perfect” holidays presented in the movies or on TV are not reality. Be tender-hearted and compassionate with yourself as you come upon the edges of loss and grief this holiday season. Whether it’s the loss of a special person, finances, or a dream recognize the loss and allow time to feel the feelings in order to let them pass. Admit that things aren’t the way you had hoped they would be and treat yourself with the loving kindness that you would offer a dear friend or child who is hurting.

December is a time of preparation.  When we prioritize and prepare we claim peace and calm for ourselves. Prepare to celebrate this season in whatever way is meaningful to you and your loved ones. And remember to prepare to take care of yourself so that you can fully enjoy the blessings of this special season.


Today’s author: Carol Hayes, [email protected] or 301-371-7460. Through her company, Clear Choices Coaching, Carol shares her expertise and skill fostering growth in people of all ages. She is especially energized when her coaching helps people experience “breakthrough” moments where they push through their personal edge and grow more fully into the people they want to be. Carol’s certification as a Life and Energy Leadership coach comes from The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation. She is also a dynamic speaker and workshop leader who facilitates energizing connections with groups of all sizes.