I think my mom is Santa Clause. Actually, I’m pretty sure she is.

I’ll never know how, but somehow, someway, my mom manages to transform my childhood home into a winter wonderland, shop for everyone she knows, and cook an elaborate 5-course meal on Christmas day for 20 people, all while working a 50+ hour work week.

(Did I mention that she’s also the primary caregiver for my elderly grandparents?)

The woman is a Saint. (Saint Nick, I think.) And while she certainly makes the holidays feel special for all of us, they leave her feeling utterly exhausted, stressed, and depleted. (Not very jolly at all)

But my mom’s not the only one guilty of taking on too much at the holidays. Many of us get swept up in the commercial aspects of the season and lose sight of what matters most. So how can we avoid the post holiday hangover, stay sane, and still enjoy the traditions that are near and dear to our hearts? Here are a few ideas:

1- Plan ahead: Does it feel like you live at the store? Make your list a head of time and choose a day or two to get all of your shopping done. You’ll feel less scattered and will free up the rest of the season for socializing and unwinding by the tree!

2- Ditch the traditions that no longer serve you: As soon as something you once enjoyed becomes a hassle, give it a rest. Maybe next year you’ll have more time to bake cookies, but if it’s just another task haunting your to do list, give yourself permission to scratch it off.

3- Create a budget and stick to it: The holidays are a time for giving, not debt. If you can’t afford to shop for everyone on your list, suggest a “Secret Santa” or come up with creative ways to stay within budget. It’s the thought that counts, and your January bank statement will thank you later!

4- Put your health and wellness first: Your guests will be more dazzled by your glowing, relaxed demeanor, than your sparkling Waterford crystal. Get plenty of rest, eat well, and exercise daily. Even a power-walk around the block or a few quick yoga poses can help alleviate stress.

5- Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Even Santa needs elves, and your friends and family will merrily rise to the occasion!

6- Help someone else: Volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate toys to a family in need. Helping other feels good and reminds us what the season is all about.

7- Keep it light: Burn the cookies, be late, run out of wrapping paper, and be okay with it. No one’s perfect and trying to be will only take away from the fun of it all.

8- Be grateful: The holidays only become stressful when we have loved ones to shop for, to host, to visit, and to celebrate with. So count your holiday stresses as blessings and let go!

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