How to Stay Sane Through the Holidays

man not staying sane through the holidays

The holidays tend to be a crazy time. And there are years when you blink, and the month of December is gone. So this year, focus on setting up your holidays for success. And that will create the right mindset for you to set up successful new year’s resolutions.

Breaking Down the Holiday Season

Visualization can be a powerful tool that helps you create goals that align with your expectations. So step one is to ask yourself, what’s your picture of joy this holiday season?

Dream big and journal it out. Then, later on, you’ll be able to determine what you may want to add or eliminate this year to help you stay sane through the holidays.

To really hone in on what that looks like, think about the season in categories, like:


Food and eating are a central part of many holiday gatherings. So as you look forward to the holidays, think about what would build a joyful holiday season in terms of food. Ask yourself:

  • Are there certain holiday foods you know you want to cook this year?
  • What restaurants do you want to visit locally and where you’re traveling?
  • Are there any foods you definitely want to stay away from this year because you know they make you feel pretty miserable?


There are so many wonderful entertainment opportunities this time of year. Make a list of events you want to attend or feel compelled to attend. Write everything down, even if you know you can’t fit them all in. You can deal with the prioritization later. Ask questions like:

  • What plays do we want to attend?
  • Are there any concerts or parades that would be fun to see?
  • What holiday lights do we want to visit?
  • Do we want to host a holiday gathering for friends, neighbors, or family?
  • Are there holiday movies we can’t miss watching this year?


Holidays can get so busy with things to do and others’ expectations that we often forget it’s a time to serve.

  • Is there a local food bank to which we could contribute food or time this year?
  • What charities do we want to support financially or through service?
  • Are there people in our neighborhood who might be lonely that we can visit with, whether at their home or ours?
  • Do we know loved ones or friends who don’t have a place to go this year we could reach out to?
  • What are the best ways to give back to the community we live in and love?


Gifting is stressful. After you come up with ideas for everyone, you have to stew in wondering if your gift is what someone wants and whether they’ll like it. So instead, think about gifts as you do about service.

  • Can you give the gift of your time to someone and help them with a household task?
  • What gifts can you make at home that are heartfelt?
  • How can you spend time with those you love by gifting an experience?


As we get older, we tend to hold some holiday traditions from childhood. Once you blend that with new traditions as your family grows, it can feel pretty overwhelming. As you think about holiday traditions, ask yourself:

  • Are there traditions you do right now that aren’t serving you?
  • In an ideal world, what new traditions would you implement?
  • What meaningful traditions do you want to continue in your family and pass on to your children?

Prioritize Your Holiday List

Now you have a list chock-full of all the beautiful things that create a joyful holiday season. It might feel pretty daunting as you have tons of things you want to do in only 25-30 days. Go through your list and:

  1. Highlight the must-dos. These are the things you can’t miss this year. The items that you would be absolutely distraught to miss. These will be the first things to go on your calendar.
  2. Underline what you can delegate. We all have unique gifts. So if you feel burdened by figuring out where to allocate charitable giving, see if your spouse or one of your older children can help brainstorm charities for your family to support. If baking is the bane of your existence, see if grandparents, neighbors, or friends want to get together to make holiday cookies, so you’re not figuring it out yourself. Delegate anything you can this year to lighten your load and focus on your must-do activities.
  3. Cross out what isn’t serving you. Be brutal with this. If you hate the tradition of matching family pajamas, nix it. If the holiday light parade makes you want to down a bottle of wine and cry, forget about it this year. Focus on getting rid of things that make you feel overwhelmed and aren’t serving your vision of holiday joy.

The Last Word About How to Stay Sane Through the Holidays

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to step back and ask what you personally need during the holidays. That might be space, time, or space and time to reflect. You might need to exercise, move your body, or plan your meals in advance. Whatever it is, take charge of your holiday to make sure you’re coming out on the other side healthy, happy, and fulfilled.

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