Do you ever feel stressed and overwhelmed during the Holiday Season? Yeah, me too. I actually think that over the years I have just accepted that’s the way this time of year is supposed to be. This year though, I want this time of year to be different, I want to preserve the magic and excitement that I always associate with the Christmas season. Maybe you do too?

I have decided to take a different approach this year, and so far it seems to be working out. Over the past few weeks I have been doing some thinking and some soul searching. And I have come up with these 5 tools to help save me and everyone around me from the holiday craziness.

  1. Create a budget, then stick to it. In years past my husband and I would start off with a budget in mind, then a few days into the Christmas shopping we would realize that we had totally blown it, or were on our way to doing so. This year we decided to not only set the budget and pay in cash (unless we absolutely could not), but to tell each dollar where to go and to whom it should be spent on.

2. Set your intentions for the holiday season. What do YOU want this season to look like for you? As invitations to parties and other events start filling your inbox it can become extremely easy to say yes to every. single. thing. And while I agree that holiday parties are fun and the extra events and volunteer opportunities can add so much joy and richness to our lives. Those very same things could also sneak in and steal that joy as well. I don’t believe we were meant to be creatures that go non-stop, and that is a belief every other month out of the year. Think about what it is you want, and take some steps to protect that vision.

3. Start a new fitness endeavor. I know this one might sound a little crazy, but just hear me out. I have never entered the holiday season with any sort of health goals in mind. In fact for me, this is the time of year that I would usually give myself the permission to let go of any and ALL of my personal nutrition guidelines.

I would allow my exercise regime to become relaxed giving into every excuse that came my way. However, this year I decided that I would intentionally start a new exercise and nutrition plan with the intention of keeping myself accountable and on track. I have allowed myself to indulge and enjoy, but much more mindfully this year. And come January, I won’t be feeling like I need to totally renovate my life or kill myself with exercise and crazy diet ideas just to fit back into my jeans.

4. Take time to take care of yourself. Choose to do something for yourself that will recharge your mental, spiritual, and emotional batteries. Whether you choose reading, journaling, meditation, prayer…(you get the idea), just choose something and then stick with it the best you can everyday. I actually believe that coupling this kind of self care with an exercise and nutrition program is the best way to go.

5. Forget perfect. If you know me, then you also probably know that I am a bit of a recovering perfectionist, and with that perfectionist mentality usually comes the tendency to want to control every little detail. This need has only exacerbated my levels of stress in the past, has robbed my joy and the joy of those I love the most. This year I have decided that perfect isn’t worth it in the end. Who cares if the decorations aren’t just so or if your house doesn’t look like a scene from the best holiday flick? Who cares if there are bumps or obstacles that come up along the way? Embrace all of the experiences this holiday season has to offer and remember that it is the people we get to share those experiences with the most that really matter.

I hope that these tools will help keep you sane and full of joy as we say goodbye to 2016 and expectantly welcome all that 2017 has to offer!