It is almost that time of year. There is a crispness in the air promising that it is going to get even colder. There are peppermint mochas in festively designed cups in everyone’s glove covered hands. There is even the illusive sound of bells, of the jingle variety, coming from somewhere. The Holiday Season is upon us. This season is the most anticipated time of the year. During the winter, when the natural world is slowing down the whole of human kind seems to be speeding up. There are gifts to buy, people to see, parties to plan, and those aforementioned peppermint mochas to make sure that one can keep up the energy to accomplish all of these tasks.

Despite all the songs saying otherwise, this is also the most stressful time of the year. After weddings, death, and serious illness, polls show that people find the winter holidays to be one of the most stressed filled times. All the rushing about trying to make sure you purchased the most wanted children’s gift of the season for little Nephew Timmy or making sure that Great Aunt Gracie is not seated by Cousin Phyllis at the holiday meal so that family feud does not start anew all comes with a price: high stress! Stress from the family, stress from spending, stress from not getting home till late at night. It is time to make a game plan to ensure that this is the most wonderful time of the year (even if that inevitable fight between Great Aunt Gracie and Cousin Phyllis does break out).

Plan Ahead

This seems like a simple thing, but it can really help keep you jolly. Try not to overburden yourself every day. Instead, dedicate a couple days a week to holiday planning and shopping. Keep a long-term holiday task list and organize it to make sure that you are using your time effectively. There is no need to have you running to the toy store every week to wait in that unending holiday line when you can just do all your shopping at once.

Take Time for Yourself

This is really a continuation of planning ahead, but is important enough to have its own section. One of the best things about this season is it allows us time to think of others and to enjoy time with them. However, it can be easy to become wrapped up in everyone else’s needs and the desire to make the holiday season perfect for them that often we end up feeling drained and neglecting ourselves. Take some time to recharge yourself so you can better enjoy the time with family and friends rather than focusing on how worn out you are. Taking time for yourself can simply be reserving a weekly bubble bath time to decompress or reading a chapter a night of a book you have been wanting to read. It does not matter what it is as long as you feel refreshed and are ready to take on that supermarket line.

Simplify and Prioritize

Everything does not have to be perfect. You are not Martha Stewart, you are YOU. Prioritize what really are the most important parts of this season time for YOU. Maybe it is making popcorn tinsel for the tree. Maybe it is making a Yule Log cake for the family gathering. Maybe it is meeting up with your sister to chat and drink cider. Maybe it is going with your parents to pick out a tree. Whatever these parts are make sure to plan and set aside time for them. Everything else can be moved to the back burner. Remember, you don’t have to attend every holiday party you are invited to.

Slow Down

No matter what this holiday season remember this is that wonderful time of year where you are encouraged to slow down and spend time with family and friends. It is these people that make this season special. So what if your perfectly planned holiday meal did not come out. Enjoy the time with your family and friends that you may or may not have gotten the chance to see and remember there is always take out.