Survival Tips to Negotiate the Holiday Season Part II – Negotiating Your Environment

Welcome to Part II of our series on Negotiating Your Survival of the Holiday Season!

It’s important to pay attention to how you navigate the holidays as they can be a time of great stress for many. This is particularly so given the pressure to live into a Hallmark movie version of life. We expect perpetual joy and perfection. We can feel like we’re failing when other emotions creep in and things don’t go as planned. Simple strategies can help you survive and thrive during the hectic holiday season if you negotiate your experience with intention.  

Last week we tackled your first and most important negotiation starting point: Negotiating Your Mindset. We shared how to choose how you show up and choose your reactions, the power of setting intentions, and recognizing the gift of gratitude. Be sure to check it out if you missed it! 

Today, we’re going to talk about ways you can negotiate your environment to improve your holiday experience. 


Get Active

Make time to exercise, even if it’s a brief walk. It’s easy over the holidays to neglect this habit. There are lots of excuses to justify opting out … whether it’s no time, too much on the plate, vegging out to de-stress, too much company, or some other flavour of avoidance. 

You’ll note I said make time to exercise. One quick mindset shift to remember during the holidays is that we don’t magically find time. It’s not buried treasure. It’s available. It’s a matter of choice. It’s incumbent on us to make time for our priorities. This is always true, and especially so during the holiday season when we tend to feel time pressures more keenly.  

I invite you to set aside some time, even if it’s just 15 minutes/day to get some exercise. It will energize you and make you more productive and engaged, thereby ironically freeing up more time.

Embrace the Magical Elixir of the Great Outdoors

Get some fresh air. Ideally, you can tie your exercise above to this tip by walking outside. It can be tempting to stay indoors, whether snuggled up with a hot chocolate or tending to the myriad of chores we set for ourselves. By all means, snuggle up with a hot chocolate (heck, you can even add a shot of Baileys) and also set aside a few minutes to get a breath of fresh air. Make this a priority over some of the chores and to do’s that likely aren’t real priorities in any event. 

Fresh air gives you a fresh perspective. I won’t bore you with the science but suffice it to say there are physical and emotional benefits from stepping out each day. Clear your head, fill your lungs, and increase your energy while uplifting your mood and resilience.

Food as Fuel

Watch your diet. I’m not saying go on a diet. I’m not completely delusional. I’m just saying be intentional about your diet. By all means, indulge during the holiday season. Just do so in moderation. Do so by choice. Plan (or at least manage) your indulgences. 

In my experience, when you’re intentional about allowing yourself a set amount of self-gratification and excess, you’re more likely to stay on track in the big picture (versus trying to deny yourself altogether where you’re more likely to fall off the wagon longer term). This simple practice can reduce brain fog and useless self-flagellation while increasing energy, productivity, and engagement.

Sweet Dreams

Get sleep and be present. It can seem challenging with holiday parties, finalizing ‘must-do’ work assignments before the holiday break, gift-buying and get-togethers. I remember the days when we were up half the night stuffing stockings, setting up Santa gifts and wrapping the too-many last-minute gifts I’d grabbed off the shelves as I doubted whether I’d gotten ‘enough’ (whatever that is). My eyes felt like sandpaper and my cotton-batten stuffed head (at least that’s what it felt like) found it hard to be fully joyful Christmas morning as the kids invariably charged upstairs at the crack of dawn chirping “Can we start now? Can we? Can we start?” 

I invite you to consider buying less stuff and instead enjoying more experiential gifts. Either way, plan so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. Make a point of getting enough sleep leading up to and through the holidays so that you can greet each day being fully present. 

For those of you who do a Christmas tree, are you growing tired of the mad Christmas morning unwrapping frenzy, as hours’ worth of careful wrapping gets shredded and strewn within minutes and the ordeal is over so quickly there’s barely a moment to appreciate it? If so, here’s an option to consider. When the kids were young, we switched to a new tradition where we took all day to ‘open the tree’. We would open the stockings, then break for hot chocolate and cinnamon buns. Then we’d open a few gifts, and break for French toast breakfast. Then we’d open some more gifts until a game or movie or some other item caught our attention and we’d play or watch together. In that way, we enjoyed our time together. We enjoyed the experience. We enjoyed our gifts more. You can substitute healthier food choices than ours, but you get the idea.

Managing Travel

In this increasingly complicated world and changing family models, it can seem like we spend much of our holiday time on the road or in the air, travelling. There are often various ‘branches’ of the family that we feel compelled to visit, each in turn. Added to that are work and personal get-togethers throughout the season. 

I invite you to consider, with intention, which of these visits feel like an obligation versus which fill you with joy (or at least some measure of enjoyment). Negotiate where and how you choose to spend your time. Learn the power of a positive ‘No’ so you can take back control of your precious resource … your time. Remember that every time you say yes to a commitment, you’re saying no to something else – likely one of your own priorities. 

Money Madness

Manage your spending with intention. In a world where we’re inundated with marketing from all sides, and where the message is always that we need more, it’s easy to fall into the trap of empty over-spending. This causes high stress levels as we push outside our limits and carry debt that negatively impacts us through the holidays and well beyond. 

Consider instead, sharing experiences with the people you love. As trite as it may seem, it serves us all to remember that the things we buy will disappear but the memories we create will last a lifetime. 

Manage Your Space

Holidays can be a great time to de-clutter. An uncluttered space can help unclutter your mind and give you the space to show up with more grace. Set aside an afternoon to purge your closets and household ‘junk’. We all have some. It’s a task most dread. Yet your reality is determined by your thoughts and the meaning you attach to them. What if you chose to embrace this as a fun new holiday tradition? Grab an eggnog, crank the tunes and dig in! 

I happen to love decorating the house to the nines at holiday time. It lifts my spirits. I used to love the end product but stressed about the process – it felt like too much time that I didn’t have. So, I changed my mindset. Embraced the joy in the decorating itself i.e., enjoyed the journey. If you love the end product but know it’s too big a stretch for you to embrace the process, consider delegating – enlist help or even hire a student to do it for you on the cheap. If you don’t think it’s worth the effort for you, I invite you to at least put up a simple single row of lights (over a window or cupboard). The change in ambiance from that simple step can be a powerful mood-enhancer.  

Hope at least a few of these tips resonate with you and set you on the path to a more joyful holiday experience. Be sure to check out next week’s article for our final Part III of the series. We’ll be tackling how to Negotiate Family Dynamics (an Achilles heel for many). And be sure to share this series with anyone in your life who could benefit from a survival toolkit on how to negotiate the holiday season. 



Be present, Food as Fuel, Get Active, Manage Your Space, Managing Travel, Negotiating your environment, Outdoors, Sleep

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