Whatever the reasons are, there are plenty of them during this time of year to induce stress and anxiety for all of us.

I absolutely love the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas season. I truly enjoy finding presents to gift to those I love. We have traditions, whether from our childhoods or collected through the years, that I look forward to all year long. The lights, the decorations, the smells of cinnamon and pine, the cheer…these are my favorite months, filled with celebrations, costumes, food, love, and happiness.

Yet for many of us, myself included, this is the most stressful and busiest season.

Maybe it is the pressure of hosting a celebration. Perhaps you feel like you never get the “right” present. Money could be tight and difficult to come by. You could be far away from family; you could dread spending so much time with family; you could be alone for the holidays. Whatever the reasons are, there are plenty of them to induce stress and anxiety for all of us.

I have amazing memories of these holidays from my childhood. As an adult, I realized how all of this was not just because of the time of year. It was because of the parents, relatives, and other adults in my life who worked hard to give me these memories. They were all exhausted. When I was 18 years old, my mom had to take a family member to the ER on Christmas Eve. My mom made all the pies for Christmas Day with our family, and she asked if I could do it this year. I stayed up until well past midnight making pie after pie after pie. I always knew that she did this, yet the labor and energy she needed for this had never occurred to me until then. I’m eternally grateful for the wonderful memories, but I cannot help but feel bad for the sheer amount of exhaustion and stress expended for me and my siblings!

This year, as in every year, I have gone into the season with a grand list of plans and ideas. I want to buy all the gifts! I want to invite anyone and everyone into my small home! I can cook and bake week after week – who needs sleep? I must attend every party/function/event! But this year, I stopped myself before Halloween and reevaluated. Did I need to do everything? Would I be upset to skip something here or there? Do we really need ALL the things we want just because it is Christmas?

No. What I need is to keep my sanity during the best yet busiest season of the year.

So instead of trying to squeeze a ton of people in my home for Thanksgiving, we are delegating the responsibility and holding it somewhere bigger. More logistics for moving and serving food, but it will work. I’m prioritizing the gifts I can not only afford to give but that my family and friends will enjoy. We will keep our usual traditions (decorating the day after Thanksgiving, 1 present on Christmas Eve, maybe the beach on Christmas?), but I’m not going to kill myself trying to attend every tree-lighting, Santa sighting, or holiday themed event. I’m going to attempt to not let others’ opinions and actions affect me (probably mixed results on that one). I’m going to call, FaceTime, and communicate with my long-distance family as much as possible, but I’ll know our and their limits.

In short, I am giving myself the gift of sanity this year. I’m not going to pretend that every day is going to be easy and stress-free. Half of these plans may go to hell, and who knows what last minute emergency may arise? But I am going to consciously attempt to remain calm, happy, and less anxious this year. Conscious efforts this year.

So if you see me running around like a maniac in an attempt to make all the Christmas cookies or to get to yet another holiday party, remind me of this. Deal?

How do you avoid stress during the holidays?