03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Elf Care And Self Care: We Can Do Both This Holiday

Santa's elves are out in force. They're trying to find parking at the mall, crashing carts at the grocery store, and crowding the retail aisles in stores everywhere. Some of them are also complaining to me about how whacky they feel about the energy out there. I'm actually also complaining right back at them. It's a holiday jungle out there. And the pressure's attend the kids' school concerts and get them holiday outfits, get the presents purchased for shipping, and get the $%#@'n tree set up at home!

Never mind that the economy is in the toilet and most of us are staring at the bowl about to flush.

Today at my favorite place to stop, drop and roll (Peet's Coffee in Pasadena, California) a guy next to me was belting out his own words to the Christmas songs that were blaring through the speakers of the coffee shop. Only he was making up words, such as, "We can't afford this, but we'll do it anyway," sung to the tune of "It's Christmas Time".

Oh boy, were we laughing in there when he did it. Which brings me to my next point. The holidays can be uh, a tad tense, to say the least. But laughing about it sure relieves stress. I got a kick out of this guy's ability to make fun of some of the irony of retail Christmas. Some of my women friends are telling me that this year, going out to the mall feels something akin to going into the cave of a bear and being mauled. They feel a lot of tenseness and aggressive behavior.

I also want to offer a nod to people who are in recovery. Whether you're a recovering alcoholic or a member of Alanon, it's pretty common that the holidays bring up stressful memories of family members drinking way to much to douse their big feelings and expectations about Christmas.

So, may I offer a few suggestions? Personally, after years of vascillating between being incredibly selfish and over doing it in the giving department, I walk the talk of self care. When I do radio interviews that's the thing most hosts hone in on. Talk to us about the idea of self care, they say. How come no one else really is talking about it? Well, the truth is, there are people talking about putting your oxygen mask on first. They just don't say it as plainly as they could. But the age old analogy is that if the plane is going down, the adults need to put their oxygen mask on first so they don't pass out and then they can help the kids get theirs on as well. So, if you pass out while shopping because you're stressing out and not taking care of yourself and then you fall and hit your head on something in the store, your loved ones won't get their gifts on time anyway.

You can do elf care and self care. You can take care of others needs while taking care of your own. Really! It does work! Here are some of my own time tested ideas for surviving the holiday and having some fun doing it. Some of my girlfriends are doing the same thing. They're not doing what they should, but doing what they must, to survive and thrive this holiday.

1) Stay in the house. Seriously. If your body won't budge, it's telling you something. If you have to finish the Christmas list, then do it online. Let your fingers do the walking and let the retail company do the shipping. It costs a little more, but isn't making life more convenient for yourself worth it? I mean aren't you worth it?

2) Break up your outdoor shopping trip by doing self care. That may mean stopping for a steaming hot cup of cocoa or cappucino at your favorite coffee place. But sit down and drink it. Do what you'd do in a certifiable emergency, stop, drop and roll or duck and cover. Get out of the crowds and away from the stress until you feel it's safe to re-emerge.

3) Do something really insane, spend money on a massage or pedicure, see a movie, or treat yourself to a delicious meal with a friend in the middle of the rush to get stuff done. Maintain your exercise/ yoga program in the middle of all the mayhem.

4) Do something different and creative while gift giving. Give someone a framed photo you took, draw up something and have Kodak strap it to a coffee cup or t-shirt. Creativity takes the edge off anxiety and can actually save you money. I myself send Dan's Chocolates to people, because I can send them a photograph I took on top of something they love to eat...and I can do most of it online. My other favorite trick is to have the kids talk to their relatives on our home video camera, then I edit that with video of our year's events and upload it to Youtube. Then I send family the Youtube link for Christmas. Voila! And I didn't even leave the house!

I think we can all take a bit of wisdom from the elves themselves, as sung by Burl Ives in the Christmas song "We Are Santa's Elves."

"Oh, we are Santa's elves.
We work hard all day,
But our work is play. "

I say elf care and self care go hand in hand this holiday season.

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