Finding Balance And Joy This Holiday Season!

As I try to gather my thoughts and put something useful on paper, I can feel the weight of all that has happened this year. We have three weeks to the end of 2023, and much changed in the world and our personal lives.

December is the last month of the year and the first month of winter. It is also the month of many cultural and religious celebrations and rituals.

Most people would agree that December can be hectic. Articles on how to survive family get-togethers, gift shopping, traveling, and social events, are hard to miss.

The thing is, I love this season and its rituals, and the older I become, the more I resist the idea of having to survive the craziness of the holidays. I don’t want to merely survive, I want to fully enjoy this season and what it has to offer.

Of course, I am not immune to the stress and overwhelm we are all subjected to this time of the year. Neither am I naive enough to believe that we can avoid drama altogether. There are certain realities we cannot avoid.

I do believe though that we have more control than we think on what to say Yes to and what to say No to. Of course, no one approach fits all, but we can find what works for us and try to do things differently.

For change to take hold, we must be open and honest with ourselves and our needs. There is much to be grateful for; why not focus on opening up to the goodness of the season instead of the anxiety-producing rituals?

Creating space in your day to do what helps you feel cared for, safe, and content is to open the door for enjoyment to enter. It doesn’t have to be anything big and time-consuming unless, of course, you want to.

If you find lists helpful and you like “seeing” where you invest your time and energy, the following exercise can help.

Take 10-15 minutes to sit down with two pieces of paper, a pen, and a highlighter.

  1. Think of your must-dos, social calendar, and obligations for the season. Write it all down.
  2. Review your list and pay attention to how your body responds.
  3. What items on your list fill you up with anticipation and excitement? Use your highlighter and highlight those.
  4. What items on your list fill you up with dread and tension? Leave those be.
  5. Notice the balance, or lack thereof, between what makes you excited and what causes you anxiety and stress.
  6. On another piece of paper, write down everything you look forward to and everything that makes you feel warm inside. At this point, you may want to reflect on what you love about this time of the year and add it to your “feel good” list.
  7. Go back to the first list and look at the items that make you feel anxious. Focus on each and ask yourself, “Do I have to go through with this?”
  8. If the answer is no, then go ahead … say No!
  9. If the answer is yes, ask yourself, “Is there an easier way to do this?”
  10. Listen to what comes up and choose what you would like to follow through with.

If, after you complete this reflection, you would like to talk it through with a good friend, go ahead. It helps to hear ourselves think out loud and have someone we trust, listen and give us the encouragement and support we may need.

I hope you give yourself the gift of sitting down for a loving conversation with yourself about what this time of the year means to you and what makes you happy.

Remember that perfectionism can rob you of enjoying the fruits of your labor. “Good enough” is often the difference between enjoyment and resentment.

May you give yourself permission to do a bit less and enjoy a bit more!

May you continue to find yourself in places where you are loved and may you share your goodness and smile with all.

I hope the season is kind to you and that you can be even kinder to yourself.

May you find joy, peace, and inspiration as you walk through the season!

With love and gratitude, always!



  • Linda Samuels

    You always give the best advice and path forward. I love the reframe of embracing more joy and less stress this holiday season. We’ve said “yes” to many social engagements- many more than typical. But it IS the season. However, before saying “yes,” we talked them through. In turn, this definitely made me think about changing one of our annual traditions of hosting on New Year’s Eve. With all the gatherings this month, I knew I’d need quiet on December 31st. So it will be just me and Steve celebrating together, which I’m happy about. It’s always a special evening for us. We call it our ‘other’ anniversary. Because on December 31, 1980, we reconnected again after being apart for a bunch of years and have been together ever since.

    As I sit to write, next to me are two lists. They aren’t the ones you mentioned, but other ones. The first is my digital task list which cues me what to attend do each day. This helps me narrow my focus on a daily basis. The items are comprised of single one-and-done type tasks and cues to work on long term projects.

    The second list is a handwritten chart of “Upcoming Projects” which includes workshops and a volunteer project for the next four months. At a glance I can see the tiny next steps needed to move each one along and the bigger arch or timeline for when things are due.

    Using these two lists along with my calendar help me to choose what I will invite in, release, or say “no” to.

    It’s also not just about projects and tasks. In my calendar, I make sure to include white space and quiet days to bounce back from fuller days, social engagements, and happenings. It’s how I create balance in my life.

    • Yota Schneider

      Dear Linda,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. When it comes to making wise choices and creating balance in your life, you are amazing. You are clear and decisive. You don’t only help your clients to achieve the level of life balance they wish for, but you walk your talk. That’s what makes you so good at what you do.

      My warmest congratulations to you and Steve for your “other anniversary!” What a beautiful landmark and on December 31st no less. I think it’s wonderful that you two decided to keep that evening for you alone! Here’s to many more celebrations of your special day of finding each other again.

Share your thoughts