I’ve been noticing a lot of us ladies are STRESSED this holiday season. Between holiday parties, shopping for gifts, wrapping those gifts, baking cookies, going to holiday recitals at our children’s schools… it’s no wonder!

So my #1 holiday tip for you: Practice saying no.  I know, it’s hard. We WANT to be able to do it all, but for most of us, we’re simply asked to do too much this time of year. So we try to cram it all in and end up starting the New Year exhausted and drained.

So how do we go about making more time for ourselves and less time for the holiday hullaballo?

Just say no. Next time someone invites you to an end-of-year mixer or holiday cocktail party, wait a day before you commit yourself either way. Do you really have time for it? Is going to that event a priority for you? Next time you’re asked to bring a diah to a potluck function and you can’t imagine how you’ll possibly have time to make it–politely say that you’re fully booked for this month, but you’d love to participate in the new year.

You get the picture. Just say no. Be protective of your (and your family’s) time. Make it a priority to spend your time doing things that are important to YOU, whether it be a board meeting or a holiday concert or staff holiday party. Pick your battles so you don’t lose the end-of-year war.

Already overbooked? Below are a few of my favorite ways to carve out time for myself when I’m super busy. Feel free to add comments with other strategies you like to use!

  • Wake up 30 minutes early for “you” time. I love to read in bed, so I’ll curl up with a novel until my second alarm clock alerts me that my ‘real’ day is starting.
  • Commit to cooking one new recipe per week.  This forces me to take a few minutes during the week to pick a recipe and then on the weekend, take the time to cook my meal and enjoy it. (Plus, I always make enough for leftovers, so it’s a secret time saver).
  • For those of you who can do so, walk to work once a week. Listen to a podcast, book on tape, or music you love.
  • Schedule laziness. Once a week, block out a period of time to lounge. Watch tv, sleep, read… whatever. Just be lazy.