The rain has come, there is a chill in the air, and the trees are changing colors and shedding their leaves. Cozy weather has arrived!

Evergreen tree standing in a foggy field of brown grass with green grass growing underneathIf you’ve been following me for several seasons, you know that East Asian medicine recommends shifting your sleeping, eating, and exercising patterns with the season to maintain optimum health.

Fall and winter are times when you are meant to slow down, do less, and sleep more. However, with the onset of the holiday season, you may find yourself adding to your to-do list, revving up your level of activity, sleeping less, and stressing more.

If you’re feeling caught between your desire to hibernate and do very little and to produce a beautiful holiday for your friends and family, you are not alone!

Finding balance is the key.

Below are some tips to help you enjoy the celebrations you choose to participate in this holiday season.

9 Ideas for a Smooth Holiday Season

Prioritize what’s important. Check in with yourself—what do you need to make it feel like a holiday celebration?

Is it making your mother’s famous pie recipe? Going for a walk with the family after a meal? Is it certain decorations on the table?

Focus on what makes it feel like a holiday to you and let go of Pinterest-perfect recipes and Instagram-inspired decorations if they’re not your priority.

Share your expectations. Once you’ve established your priorities, share them with the people you’ll be celebrating with and check in to see what their holiday deal breakers are.

Do they need gluten-free or vegetarian options? Is it not a holiday feast unless there is a certain family recipe on the table? Do they like to celebrate after dinner by playing a game of cut-throat charades?

Clarifying what everyone wants prior to event day allows you to discuss and negotiate when people are more relaxed. Talking about everyone’s expectations ahead of time also gives you more time to prepare and may help curtail last-minute stress.

Discuss COVID comfort levels. People have vastly different COVID risk tolerances. Check in with the people you’ll be gathering with to see what (if any) COVID safety precautions, they plan to take.

From there, you can make informed decisions about how to best take care of your health.

Establish an anchor habit. Pick one act of self-care that you can reliably perform. Taking a few minutes for yourself every day can help reduce holiday burnout and anxiety.

Keep it simple. Self-care can be anything from washing the dishes in the morning to meditating for five minutes before you go to bed.

Set yourself up to win by choosing something that feels soothing to you and is easy to incorporate into your day.

Avoid excess caffeine. If you’re like most people, you drink more caffeine when you’re tired and need to push through to get something done. Caffeine consumed midday or later can disturb your sleep, leading to a vicious cycle of fatigue and caffeine use. It can also cause you to feel anxious and irritable. Use caffeine sparingly and instead try closing your eyes for a five- to 20-minute afternoon catnap when possible.

Schedule down time. It is really hard to be in the holiday spirit when you are tired and grouchy. If you have a particularly full schedule one day, try blocking out time the following day to rest and recuperate.

Practice good sleep hygiene. You may also consider factoring in time to wind down when deciding when you want to leave a party or cease holiday-related work. Allowing yourself time to relax can help you fall asleep more easily and sticking to a regular sleep schedule will ensure that you get enough sleep!

Sleep boosts your mood and immune function, and best of all it’s free!

If you are an insomniac, try this reframe. If you have trouble falling asleep or tend to wake up in the night, try reminding yourself that your body is reaping the benefits of rest by laying there. 1) It’s true and 2) your body is more likely to relax and fall asleep if you reinforce the benefits of rest, rather than stressing about the sleep you aren’t getting.

If you’re still having trouble getting a restful night of sleep, come see me for acupuncture and herbs to improve your quality of sleep.

Come in for a holiday tune-up. Find your calm within the holiday storm with acupuncture. I see the calming effects of acupuncture every day in my practice.

People’s faces change markedly from the moment they walk in to when they get off the table—the tension melts away and their eyes brighten.

Give yourself the gift of pure joy this holiday season and book yourself a session.