I don't know about you, but just because it's a holiday doesn't mean I have less to do -- in fact, my to-do list is epically long. It's easy to fall into a frantic and anxious frame of mind when we start reciting the "too much to do, too little time" mantra that's so popular these days.
These tips can apply to any week, but they are especially potent at the holidays. Here's how to fight burnout and stay calm, cool and collected.
1. Sleep... a lot!
I've got the bad habit every year of staying up late on Christmas Eve wrapping presents. At some point, I look down and wonder at what point I took off my gay apparel and donned my cranky pants. Soon after that, I start yelling, "Wrapping shmapping!" while I half-ass everything I'm doing just so I can go to bed.
There's no doubt about it: sleep makes you feel happier, helps you control your weight and reduces stress, but come the holidays, there's less of it to go around.
This year, I got a jumpstart on the wrapping early. I'll still probably stay up late Christmas Eve, but not nearly as late as usual, and it will be more for the enjoyment factor than the forced march of I-can't-go-to-bed-until-all-this-is-done.
You've probably got lots of socializing to do, so regular bedtimes might not come easy this week, but at least let's all make a pact to jettison those mindless late-night activities like watching TV, checking Facebook or otherwise surfing the internet instead of sleeping.
2. Curate your media
Stop watching the news. Seriously. If something newsworthy happens, friends and family will fill you in. Watching the news is a great way to ratchet up your anxiety levels about things that have nothing to do with you and that you can do nothing about. And frankly, the vast majority is sensationalist crap, especially all the talking head commentary on the 24-hour news networks. The news is junk food for your brain. Stay away from it.
You are what you think. Bring in joy to have joy. Pick your genre, whether it's comedy, romance or sappy holiday movies, and make time for it. It sounds obvious, but it's so easy to forget: Watch, listen, and read about what makes you happy, not what makes you stressed!
3. Delay gratification
On Monday, my daughter asked me for a cookie. We have everything we need to bake cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, so why not bust them out just a little bit early? And along those lines, my husband and will share a tipple of Amaretto on Christmas Eve in front of the fire. But you only live once, so why wait until then?
With so much to do at this time of year, there are many of us out there who would really just like to bury our faces in a bucket of chow (or a bucket of wine!). Besides, it's so easy to fuel ourselves with eggnog and cookies at this time of year. And geez, the holidays only roll around once per year, so why not!? Well...
...Because sugar, alcohol and caffeine all raise your cortisol levels, which leaves you feeling anxious, grumpy and sad. And when you're feeling not-so ho-ho-ho-hopeful, it's way harder to get everything done in an efficient and breezy manner. Everything seems fraught and tiresome.
I'm not saying we can never, ever enjoy a sweet, but when we do our best to limit the indulgences to one or two days (like Christmas and New Year's) and reel it on the days in between, then special treats stay special, rather than becoming burdensome habits that get in the way of living our blissful lives.
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