Make the most of this holiday season!
It goes without saying that the holidays are a mixed bag of emotions. For some reason being with all of the family, seeing old friends and visiting home towns can often bring make us rehash old memories and bring out emotions we haven’t felt in a while. To me, the holidays – Christmas in particular – leaves me feeling sentimental, bittersweet, annoyed, stressed, happy, grateful, etc. Throw in a few too many cocktails and who knows what could happen! Luckily our family has a good routine when it comes to the holiday season so we always look forward to spending the week of Christmas at my parents house. Even still, six adults, one dog and countless visitors can make for a stressful time.
Whether you are heading home to stay with family, hosting people at your home or simply staying put – there are many “rules” that we can implement to make sure that we are not only getting through the holiday season, but actually enjoying our time. We all define “success” differently, but to me a successful holiday is one where you leave feeling especially grateful for the time spent together. We all want to enter the new year with love, gratitude and a positive look ahead.
Baking goodies for loved ones is a sure fire way to sweeten up your holiday break!
10 Ways to Ensure a Successful Holiday Break
Exercise every morning: Trust me on this. The best way to reduce the stress level is to exercise! I like to commit to moving my body every morning so that it’s out of the way and I can continue to enjoy the rest of my day. Most days when I am home I will either go for a quick run outside, hit the gym with my dad or meet a friend for a local workout class. Why not kill two birds by working out and spending time with friends? You’ll feel refreshed and great afterward and less guilty about eating those Christmas cookies!
Build in some “me” time: Oh, this is so critical. We often feel guilty when we are at home – like we have to spend every waking minute with our hosts or house guests. I’m sure that nobody would mind that you need some alone time to relax and feel better. A few ideas include seeing a movie solo, taking a nightly bubble bath, find a nook to curl up and read for a while, head out for a jog by yourself or simply enjoy an afternoon nap. Whatever it is that you need, you should do it!
Spend your time wisely: It is always a logistical nightmare when you try to spend time with extended family, old friends, visit holiday parties, shop for gifts, etc. I don’t know about you but every single holiday season I feel pulled in a million different directions, trying to please everyone. The past few years I have really learned to budget my time wisely. I’ll arrange a girls night out to see a big group of friends at once or pair up with a gal pal to knock out some gift shopping or grab a much needed mani/pedi with a female relative. I would rather spend less time with someone but make it truly quality versus being rushed and stressed, unable to enjoy their company. Remember, it’s okay to say no, especially this time of year.
Get outside daily: Depending on where you are spending this holiday season, embrace all that nature has to offer. If you are lucky enough to be by the water, take morning walks on the beach or go swimming for some exercise. Those near the mountains can hit the slopes or go for a hike. If you’re in an average climate destination (like me), grab a family member and enjoy a long walk outside. The brisk air feels so good once you start moving and you will feel immediately calmer and more at ease.
Give back to your community: Kudos to you if you are someone that gives back and is philanthropic year round. Though it’s something I aspire to do more of, I’ll admit that I do not give back nearly as much as I should. The holidays are an ideal time to volunteer at a soup kitchen or clean out closets to donate close or volunteer time at a shelter or home. Better yet, share these experiences with your family so that everyone can give back, together.
Keep up with traditions: One of my favorite part about the holiday season is the traditions that are passed down through the years. For most of us, traditions may include baking cookies, cooking a specific item/meal, going to see Christmas lights or attending church together. It is important to keep these going while building new traditions. What is your family’s holiday tradition? We always go to church on Christmas Eve, followed by a cocktail party at my aunt & uncle’s house. It’s a night that I look forward to every year!
Pitch in around the house: It is always necessary to do your part when staying at someone’s home but it’s especially important around the holidays. Wherever you may be, it is nice to pitch in by making a grocery run, cooking dinner for everyone one night, taking over dish duty or providing a gift card for a cleaning service. I like to do my part by grocery shopping and cooking meals for my family as I love to cook so it’s a natural way to help. Anything is better than nothing!
Unplug from work: I wish so badly that I could practice what I preach here, but damn it is hard to unplug! I certainly do my best to keep my computer closed, not check my email (I’m on PTO, after all), avoid the time suck of social media and really embrace being in the moment with family and friends. Let’s be honest, Instagram can wait! As we get older and families grow, it is rare that we have each other’s undivided attention for days at a time so take advantage of it. Spend this time re-connecting with friends and loved ones, not worried about peripheral things that really don’t matter.
Sleep more than usual: Go to bed early. Sleep in late. Take a midday nap. These last two weeks of the year are a great time to try and catch up on sleep best you can. It seems that we are always so busy during the day, it is easy to hit the sack earlier than normal. Besides, there is nothing worse than coming home from a vacation feeling wiped out – am I right?!
Live in the moment: Let’s not forget the reason why we are celebrating after all! It is so easy to get caught up in the stress and chaos of the holiday season. Truly the best thing we can do is take a step back, take a deep breath and be thankful for the fact that we are here and together. We never know what next year will bring so let’s not take it for granted.
I hope that you are able to relax and enjoy every moment of this holiday season! It is no secret that time flies and this holiday season was especially quick. With the new year – and new decade – less than two weeks away, now is the perfect time to soak in all that the holidays have to offer. No matter your religion, relationship status, family size or phase of life, we can all find something to be thankful for.