With sunsets happening before 6:30 each night, it’s becoming more and more clear that winter will soon relieve autumn of its seasonal duties. Before we know it, it’s going to be holiday season, and while that is a wonderful time of year, it comes with a whole host of stresses – guests, meals to make, lots of family time, kids home from school, and travel.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to keep yourself sane during the craziness that is the end of the year. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

  • Practice deep breathing throughout the day. A perfect time is when someone says something offensive at the dinner table: instead of jumping down their throat, take a deep breath before you respond.
  • Practice gratitude for the aromas of the season: sage, rosemary, pumpkin, yam, pie, cloves, apples, etc. Every meal is a new opportunity to practice.
  • Take time for yourself every day. Maybe it’s 10 minutes when you first wake up or go to sleep to lie in bed and stretch, pet your cat or dog, read the next chapter of your book. Maybe it’s a 15 minute nap after lunch or a mid-morning coffee break. Whatever it looks like, make it a priority.
  • Stay hydrated. Alcohol and coffee are in abundance during this season, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water or tea throughout the day.
  • Fit in exercise when you can. If you’re a runner, hit the trails or a treadmill. Yogis, if you can’t fit in an hour class at your studio, find an online video to do at home, or just flow in a way that feels good to you. Get in a short 15-minute walk after dinner. Do 5 minutes of stretching before bed. Anything is better than nothing.

The most important thing is to listen to your body. If you’re frazzled after a day of diffusing tense family relationships or a cooking frenzy, maybe a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine is exactly what you need. If you’re feeling sluggish after a three-day eating marathon, maybe a long slow walk is in the cards for you.

Whatever you do or don’t do, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because you “should” still be going to the gym, or you “shouldn’t” have had that second piece of pie. Holidays are a special time of year and are meant to be savored, no matter how stressful they may seem.

What are some of your favorite ways to stay sane during the holidays?