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I know we’re just headed into November, but I have been to at least three stores in the last few weeks with Christmas trees out and decorated. As much as we want to enjoy the leaves and savor the last warm days, the holiday season is almost here. Sure, we have a couple of months, but we all know how quickly time can fly by.

The quickness of it all is part of what makes it a stressful time if we aren’t mindful. The holiday season has this way of creeping up on us, even though we know it’s coming. And not only does it creep up on us, but it comes with a “to do” list that seems to never end.

I have made a few holiday season mistakes in the past. Some were so stressful; I can remember them like they happened yesterday. But, as with all things in life, if we learn the lesson, we don’t have to go through the experience again. Thank goodness I learned something, because I definitely don’t want to experience holiday burnout once more, and I don’t want you to either.

Here’s a guide to help you beat holiday season burnout. I think the information shared will give you what you need to create a happier, calmer, low-stress season.

1. Start your Christmas shopping as early as possible. I know, I know—it pains me too when I see a Christmas tree up in September, so the thought of shopping so early can seem unsettling, too. The thing is, if you go ahead and shop now you will spare yourself from a lot of last minute stress. I already started and I don’t plan to be in anyone’s store (or waiting for the delivery man) on Christmas Eve.

2. Avoid hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas if possible. If you are the one in your family who always ends up hosting all the holiday dinners, ask someone else to take the lead on something this year. Maybe you enjoy it, and if you find it brings you no stress, go right ahead and cook up a storm, my friend. But if you find all that cooking and cleaning exhausting, and you never even get to enjoy a plate of all that food your made until it’s super cold—well, I think you should give yourself a break this year.

3. Don’t get crafty if you just aren’t crafty. My kids are really young (4 and 2) and crafts are always a hit. The problem is, this mama is not all that craft. I mean I can glue a few sticks together and find some glitter, but it’s not something I am great at. So, I do my best to keep it simple. I buy tons of stickers, construction paper, and glitter pens. I also purchase a few craft kits that already include everything I need to help my kids make a wreath, card, or whatever else they desire. Everybody wins.

4. Say no… a lot. I have a gift. I say no to people… a lot. I am not mean at all (I swear I’m not), but I am also not in the business of burning myself out or letting people take advantage of me—even if it is family. That said, if I don’t want to attend an event, make something, or commit to a particular project around the holidays, I respectfully say, “thanks, but no thanks.” I just can’t be everything to everyone. There is nothing festive about that life.

5. Secure childcare. If your kids are older, this may not be an issue, but with my little ones a simple trip to buy decorations can quickly go south. If you are able to secure childcare for a few random days during the season, it can help you keep your sanity. Maybe you want to have the kids come along for some trips (like buying gifts for family members), but some time alone will allow you to get their gifts and do some store hopping to catch deals, which is often not an option when you have little ones in tow.

6. Pamper yourself. Aromatherapy treatments, a trip to the spa, and a massage from your hubby are all examples of ways you can pamper yourself during this potentially stressful season. Think about things that bring you peace and calm, and make them a priority in your life. If you lose your sense of balance and become overwhelmed, you can ruin the season for yourself and those you love most.

I know it’s early, but I am already wishing all of you a happy, stress-free holiday season. Leave comments and let me know what you do to make sure you don’t burnout during the holidays.
Martine Foreman is a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, and family & relationship coach. To follow her journey as a busy mom, wife and honest chick from Brooklyn, NY (now living in the burbs), check out her personal blog, CandidBelle.

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