Tomorrow is the first day of December. How!?

For many of us, December 1st is a pretty solid reminder that the holiday season is here. Even though the radio stations have been playing Christmas music for weeks now and the candy canes have been on display in CVS since Halloween, once December actually arrives, it’s like something just clicks.

For some reason, Thanksgiving never seems that hectic, but December does. All of a sudden, our calendars are full to the brim. We have a heightened awareness of all the things that we’re supposed to get done by the end of the month. Many of us will start to feel a bit anxious about how the heck we’re going to do it all while also maintaining our own self-care and wellness.

Maybe you’ve heard of the phrase the holiday hustle before. Well, this is it. If I had to define holiday hustle, I’d say it’s the combination of things that add to a person’s potential feeling of overwhelm and exhaustion at this time of year.

Things like rushing, doing, social obligations, professional obligations, traffic, cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, decorating, emotional family dynamics, richer than usual meals, less sleep, less time for exercise, card writing, traveling, financial strain, feeling inadequate, getting caught up in the comparison trap, missing loved ones, etc.

Even though this list could go on and on, the thing that most people miss is that the holidays simply don’t have to be so exhausting! It’s SO easy to get caught up in the pressure and emotions of everything, but in reality, we are 100% in control of how we approach this so-called hustle. And we most certainly don’t have to do it all!

If you can relate to this, I’ve listed some questions below that you might want to ask yourself this week. The questions will make you think a little bit upfront, but ultimately that introspection is exactly what can help you feel more in charge of your time and sanity through the rest of December.

christmas 2015

Slow Down the Holiday Hustle With These 4 Questions

1. What will bring you joy?

Think about what will help you savor the season. Maybe it’s spending a night at home with your husband watching Christmas movies. Maybe it’s spending the day in your pajamas with your kids, drinking hot chocolate and making homemade Christmas decorations. Maybe it’s getting together with your closest girlfriends for wine and a cookie swap. Maybe it’s taking a day off from work to get a pedicure and curl up with a good book at your favorite coffee shop. Try writing down what would truly help you savor the season, pick 1-3 off your list, and carve out space in your schedule for them. Give yourself permission to have these moments!

2. What would you prefer to exclude as part of your holiday experience?

Think about what you know won’t bring joy to your season. Perhaps you want to eliminate feeling so rushed. You can address this by blocking out chunks of time during the month where you actually plan to have no plans. This can allow for extra time to do the things that you know will ultimately creep up and cause that rushed anxiety.

It’s possible and likely that some of the things that won’t bring you joy will be out of your control; however what you can control is deciding ahead of time what boundaries you will set. For example, it might be hard to avoid a challenging family member all together, but you can decide ahead of time what boundaries you will set and what you will tolerate. For example, this year may bring more heated conversations about politics than usual. You can make a plan for what you will say and/or how you will politely remove yourself from a situation or conversation that doesn’t serve you. I actually have been coaching some of my 1:1 goal getter gals around how to deal with comments from food pushers; that’s another example of something you can choose to exclude from your holiday experience instead of stress about.

3. What can you let go of to help you feel more relaxed?

Think about all the things on your plate, and then try to categorize them into one of three buckets: 1) things you really do HAVE to do, 2) things you really do WANT to do, and 3) things that you don’t necessarily have nor want to do. After making this list, you may have a better handle on how you might be making things harder for yourself as well as what you might be able to take off your plate. For example, maybe decorating your house from top to bottom is something you’ve done every year, but after really thinking about it, it’s not something that even excites you that much. Maybe this year you keep it simple with just a tree instead of going all out. Or perhaps you decide that this year you are going to pay for a cleaning service the week before you host your family’s holiday party instead of killing yourself to get it all done and sacrificing sleep and sanity instead. Think about what you might be able to delegate to others. We don’t have to do it all, and it’s okay to ask for help.

4. Why are you participating in _____? 

Finally, when it comes down to any holiday related activity, it’s helpful to think about why you are involving yourself. Is it because you feel obligated? Is it because you think you should? Is it because you want to look good to others? Whether it’s attending a holiday party or sending holiday cards, you should do things that make YOU feel good and that you genuinely want to do instead of doing things out of obligation. I read an article last year that said, “if it’s not a hell yeah, then it’s a no.” This sentence has really stood out to me and has helped me SO much with identifying what I’m actually really exited about versus what I am just going through the motions with and feeling meh about. Personally, I think it’s actually a disservice to both yourself (and others!) to not be fully vested in whatever you are doing. So if you want to send out holiday cards because it brings you a sense of happiness to connect with loved ones, by all means send them. But if you are only sending them because you feel like you have to and you actually dread sitting down to write them, well, take them right off your plate.

Christmas 2013 at Trinas

Remember, you are ALWAYS in control! I hope these questions will help you get some clarity out of your holiday intentions so you can slow down and savor the season this year. <3

If this post resonated with you, please consider joining my Achieve It email crew. Each week I send an email to this group with my best insights, new workouts and recipes, and exclusive, more personal content that’s not on the blog. Being a part of this group will also get you advanced notice about new program launches and events, as well as special giveaways and discounts! Just add your name and email here