How to enjoy the holiday season without the stress, overwhelm, ´hangover´!

intentional christmas drink with festive cones

How to have a more mindful or conscious holiday season that won´t wreck your mental or physical health.

As the holiday season approaches, midlife women often find themselves navigating a whirlwind of festivities (including organising it all), delicious treats, and celebratory libations. Yes, it is also a time for joy, celebration, family, but, from my experience we can end up overdoing it.  The negative impact of that can result from that doesn´t do our physical or mental health any favours nor our relationships (including the one with ourselves).  Cultivating a mindful approach throughout this time whether it is in relation to how we celebrate, what we go to plus how we choose to eat and drink are all ways we can empower ourselves. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of being clear about what we want in December 2023 and beyond; Having more conscious decision-making and celebrating during the holidays can help us midlife women savour the season whilst also prioritising our well-being.

Christmas / Festive Intentions: What do you want most?

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, New year, Three Kings or any other tradition/s; What would you most like to have, to experience, to feel over the holiday season? 

intentional or conscious christmas or festive season or holiday

Whether your intention is to enjoy spending time with family, make a commitment to being present rather than stress and overwhelm or simply to get through the period and be present for yourself after a tough year or grief.

Being clear about we want most from this time of year, rather than getting caught up in habitual patterns or society´s habitual shenanigans can really help ground us.  Regularly reminding ourselves of this intention whether having a visible reminder of it in our phones, on the wall, that we say to ourselves morning and night can make a huge difference to anchor us too.

It can also be really helpful to remind ourselves of why this intention is important to us.  This really cements the importance in our mind and can ignite all our senses too – give it a try!

christmas or winter scene tree and lights in the distance

Communicate our intentions

A vital, but often missing piece – talking to family and those closest to us about our intentions and how that might make the season look and feel a bit different, remembering to include why this important to you.   Talking about this is essential to double down on your commitment and ensure that noone has false expectations that could potentially blow up. 

Talking about what we most want and why can also be a really great way to connect with loved ones and find out what is most important to them in the holiday season, plus manage expectations (e.g. children over gifts!  We have already had to do this over one teen´s desire for an iphone!)  Just because someone wants something, it doesn´t mean it will happen plus our wants and needs are just as important as our kids, parents, partners, friends.

Set daily reminders

Remind yourself daily of your intention when you get up and throughout the day (sometimes an alert on your phone can help) and check in with yourself before you get a request to do, attend, help out with anything and see if it aligns with your intentions and plans.

Remembering that we don´t have to respond straight away if someone invites or asks us to do something.  Giving ourselves time to pause and say I will come back to you later, gives us space to take stock and not just default to yes. For more support on this check out: How to Stop Being a People Pleaser – Inner Expat and 11 Methods To Better Manage Time During The Holiday Season

We matter too.

twinkling lights reminder self care for christmas or festive season

It can be easier said than done if we have organised the festive season to hinge around us whether it is the food, presents, parties, decorating, wrapping, looking after extend family.  Delegation and sharing responsibility is also vital.

Having preemptive conversations can help reduce stress particularly on the ´big´days of celebration of Christmas (eve, day, Boxing Day), New Year, Hanukkah, whatever you may celebrate.  For example, in my family we are going to my parents this year and all the family we be going to stay with them.  Learning from previous experience (at my parent´s place and having hosted ourselves) we have had already had several conversations to ask my parents their intentions over the festive period, to think about all the necessary tasks and who can do what.  Not just on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but in the run-up and aftermath too.  

This is important so noone feels wholly responsible, plus everyone has an opportunity to be involved – including the kids and teens, for that matter! It might not be a big deal, but clearing up the wrapping paper has now become a bit of a family game in our home and is a tradition that actually helps!

combination of winter or festive things including cranberries, orange, fir, cones, berries, holly

Planning  an Intentional Christmas:

Once we are clear on our intentions then we can start to plan how we want our festive season to look and feel.  Yes, there are more than likely to be some family, work and other commitments that we need to attend to, but we can choose what we say yes and no to beyond that. For example, thinking about our intentions first and foremost, we can decide what invitations we accept, what money we spend, how many presents we buy, what traditions / food / drink choices we will make.  Just because we have done the holiday period one way in the past, does not mean we have to always do it like that (although many kids do love their traditions, we can talk about what are the most important ones). Sometimes we put so much expectations on ourselves and each other, when actually the simple things and just enjoying a game or a walk is far nicer for all involved. Some other ideas are here:

Conscious Christmas: 6 Tips for a Sustainable & Zero-Waste Christmas – Lanson Place

If we approach December consciously then we are less likely to end up by they end of the month feeling frazzled, disconnected and potentially overwhelmed.  Plus when we do feel these ways we are more likely to drink and eat more which can affect our mental and physical health.  For more on this read next week´s blog post on intentional / conscious eating and drinking over the holiday season.  In the meantime you can also remind yourself of the importance of self-care, particularly in busy times (yes, especially when you don´t think you have time, even 5 minutes can make a big difference).

Nurture Yourself: Guide to Midlife Mum Self Care – Inner Expat

winter or christmas berries on a branch

Intentionally celebrating the festive season as midlife women

Being clear and embracing our intentions and wishes during the holiday season can empower midlife women to prioritise their well-being while savouring the joy of festivities. By making conscious choices from the start, being clear, communicating and finding ways to remind and check-in with ourselves we can navigate the holidays so we look after ourselves and enjoy it too.

If we choose to embark on a more holistic approach to holiday wellness, I suspect we are likely discover that the season becomes more about the joy of connection, gratitude, and self-nurturing / those closest to us, rather than about the stress, the chores and resultant negative aftects on our mental and physical health which can often lead to indulgence of food and drink – a vicious circle can ensue (more on that next time!) So how about we experiment with a bit of a different approach this year and make our own holiday tradition that gives us permission to also includes us and what we really want for Christmas.

What is your intention for the holiday season?  Why is this important to you and how can/will you remind yourself of this?  What has helped you be more present, intentional conscious about celebrating with family, friends and what would you like to create more of?

As always, I LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments below.

If you would like to live your life more intentionally and in alignment with your values and valuing yourself and your mental health whether during the festive season or beyond. I am a transformational life coach working with midlife women in all walks of life, contact me for a free zero-strings attached vision building call – Emma at

Images:   Mourad Saadi, Annie Spratt, Toa Heftiba, Kelly Sikkema  on Unsplash

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