Here's an Idea: Let's Stay Sane Over the Holidays

Claudia Apfelbaum, for the Shuttle

Views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily the Health & Wellness Committee ,and are not a substitute to talking with a therapist or doctor about concerns you might be having.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s — how do we stay sane? Here are some strategies:

Ask for help. You may have been raised with the idea that it is best to do everything yourself, that you are the best person to do it all. And that you have to do it perfectly.

These ideas are not necessarily accurate. Doing everything yourself can be stressful, is often overwhelming and might not create good feelings toward other people. So this year, try making the holidays more fun by asking for help. There are other people in your life — partners, friends, siblings, parents, even children — and they all can help. Ask them, and remember that they will probably feel happier for being asked and getting a chance to be involved!

Be real. This is a great time of year to start owning up to your true energy and your true needs. Being honest with others and telling them that you can only do “so much” might bring you greater closeness with people you love, and give you a sense of relief. Instead of communicating a false “Everything is well” message, you’ll be sharing your truth. That brings breathing room and also invites other people to share their own needs.

Listen to your body. Our bodies tell us what’s going on with us. Listen — what message is your body giving you? Is it saying, “I can’t do this anymore”? “I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I need a nap. I need a break. I need to go for a walk in the woods. I need acupuncture!” Rather than pushing through, listen to the message your body is giving you and do what your body is telling you to do. Taking care of your body will give you more energy. And it will help you to feel emotionally recharged as well.

As the mother of a 3-year-old, I was often exhausted. I learned to tell my daughter that she could play quietly beside me while I took a nap. I always felt better afterwards and had more energy for her and whatever else I had to do.

Take care of yourself. Continue to eat! Remember, our bodies need to be fed. Don’t stop eating because you’re feeling too busy. Food helps us stay centered, energized and nourished.

Say “Yes” to yourself. This year, my sister and mother surprised the rest of us with their plans for the Christmas season: They were going on a week-long meditation retreat. After we all got over this bit of a shock, we created other plans. It freed all of us up. So, if not this year, maybe next, you can say “Yes” to your dream. Maybe you can go to Paris (my dream) or stay local for the holidays or something else that appeals to you for the holiday season.

Claudia Apfelbaum, LCSW, is a psychotherapist who enjoys working with individuals, couples and families. Contact her at