Mrs R,

This year, I’d like to ditch holiday stress.   Any advice for staying calm and focused over the next few weeks?


Dear Frazzled,

It doesn’t matter who you are or how old  – negotiating the holidays is a high wire act.  Some moments it’s everything we want it to be, and then we find ourselves in the middle of an epic tantrum worthy of a 3 year old with no idea where the hell that came from. It’s a supremely loaded time of year.   Did you know that divorces spike during Christmas and New Years?   It’s a time to evaluate our lives, and unfortunately we (like one of Scrooge’s ghosts) measure what IS against our image of what SHOULD BE.

Here’s a few holiday survival tips that should get you through to January with flying colours:

#1 – Maintain as many of your healthy habits as you can. Go to the gym or yoga class.  Stick with healthy as often as you are able in between the indulgent meals. Take a bath, get a massage, whatever you can do to take care of you – do it.

#2 – Lower your expectations a little.  Watch where your head goes before and during get-togethers. Lose any concept of perfection: finding perfect gifts, cooking perfect meals. It’s about sharing time, not being perfect. You are your biggest critic, so give yourself a break.

#3 – When it comes to family: exercise the practice of letting them be who they are. When you feel yourself reacting negatively, becoming someone you no longer are (like your 8 year old self), remind yourself that you are not that person anymore.  Take a deep breath, and observe the person that triggered you.  You need to let them be who they need to be and lose the desire to point out how they should change.  You can only change you (This one’s a lifetime practice!).

#4 – Learn to say No. If you’re stretched thin, and are asked to do something, be somewhere, help in some way, and you can’t do it, simply say no. It may be the best gift you give yourself this Christmas.

#5 – Take pleasure in small things. Remember, a lifetime is but a string of moments. The more you can bring yourself inside the moment, and enjoy what it is, the calmer you will be. Loose sight of what is not and make this your holiday mantra, “The time I have is the time I need”.

#6 – If all else fails:  a smart Christmas cocktail  should do the trick.

Happy Holiday Trails