Staying Sane during the Holidays

This time of year it’s easy for us women to get overwhelmed, feeling like we have to get all the right gifts and decorations, bake cookies for our kids’ school parties, fulfill family and in-laws’ expectations, etc.4wordwomen.org blog 2012

I’ve blogged before about setting healthy boundaries for yourself, but I think that’s especially important during the holidays. It’s essential to ensure that you have time to rest, exercise, eat healthy, and have a daily quiet time. If you are not taking care of yourself, you won’t be any fun to be around, and the things you do to serve others won't be as special.

Part of making sure you have time to take care of yourself is figuring out what holiday activities you actually have time to do. That has been especially important for me to remember this year.

Between moving, my daughter Annie’s health concerns and the usual work-related travel, it’s been a very busy fall. In November, when I sat down and looked at my calendar, I realized I would only have a couple of weeks at the end of the month to get up Christmas decorations, do my Christmas shopping, and send out Christmas cards.

I knew that my plate was too full, so I started cancelling my attendance at events so that I would be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family. If you’re feeling stressed out by an over-committed social calendar, I’d encourage you to do the same thing.

For example, I cancelled a trip to Houston on the 16th to see a dear friend be honored for inspiring Christian women. When I explained the reason I wouldn’t be there, he told me he completely understood.

I also had to tell my friend LaTonya, a WyldLife leader in South Dallas who I regularly support, that she could expect my check, but that I wouldn’t be at her fundraiser. She understood as well.

And finally, I cancelled my attendance at a family friend’s wedding and just mailed the gift instead.

Can I let you in on a secret? Your friends will understand if you have to cancel an RSVP. In fact, they probably know exactly what it feels like to be staring at a full calendar, wondering how you can possibly find time to get everything finished by December 25. Trying to satisfy everyone while running yourself into the ground from holiday overload is a recipe for disaster, not for Christmas cheer.

My challenge to you this week is to sit down, before you get caught up in the swirl of Christmas activities, and honestly evaluate your free time and your holiday commitments. If you can’t bake cookies for every child’s class Christmas party, that’s okay. If you can’t squeeze in time to take a family photo for Christmas cards, that’s okay too. I have some friends who always send out their family card at Valentine’s Day, rather than try to squeeze in one more holiday activity.

The key is to take care of yourself first so that you stay healthy and have the energy to enjoy the Christmas season with your loved ones. Make time with your family and closest friends a priority, and then add in other commitments as your calendar allows.

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Are you tempted to overcommit yourself during the holidays? What’s your secret to maintaining your sanity and leaving time to enjoy yourself?