Is it that far-fetched to relax ... even during one of the most hectic and stressful times of the year? We submit that it is not!

Lists. I have so many lists of things to do, groceries to buy, meetings to schedule, gifts to select, people to call, projects to complete, home repairs to finish, phone calls to place, research to complete, and, of course, more lists to make. I'm exhausted, and I need a break.

But Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and other holidays are nearing right after that. I want to relax. I need to relax. In past years, I give myself a delightful (albeit harmful) pep talk. I convince myself that I need to keep going, and I'll take a break after the holidays. But can I actually relax during the holiday season? 

Dare to dream with me. Or is it really a dream at all? I have found a few keys to relaxing in the midst of wonderful holiday chaos with friends and family.

Be Honest With Yourself and Others

Think through what you want to experience in the next couple of months. I doubt that anyone put "stress" at the top of the list. What is important to you this holiday season? Perfectly-planned meals complete with place cards? Eight hours of sleep each night? A spotless home? Meaningful conversations? Choose two or three non-negotiable things that are important to you and communicate that desire to those in your family.

Checking Out vs. Relaxing

While checking out and relaxing might seem synonymous, there's a distinct difference. When checking out, I stop engaging with my surroundings. For me, this looks like binge-watching something on Netflix or mindlessly searching Facebook Marketplace for my next project. When I relax, I'm still engaged. There might even be an activity involved. Relaxing is when I am doing something that brings me joy. And, to be clear, relaxing looks different for each person.

Set Expectations

When I think of relaxing, I often think of a vacation to a remote island with incredible food and no schedule. No responsibility. That level and span of relaxation is not quite realistic over the holidays. Expect the coming festivities to be busy and tiring ... but with intentional relaxation thrown in here and there.

Consider the best way for you to relax. Is it on your own? Engaging in a favorite hobby? With people? Make a list of meaningful ways for you to relax.

Find a Phrase

You'll probably find yourself in the thick chaos at one point or another over the next eight weeks. It's bound to happen. Choose a phrase now that can remind yourself to relax. It could be "I choose [_______] this season." The blank can be one of your chosen important non-negotiables for the season. This phrase might help you center and balance yourself while navigating the busyness around the holidays.

Take a Quick Break

If you have 15 minutes before your next appointment or task, consider what you can do to relax in such a short amount of time. We've even collected a few ideas of what you can do.

Cut What You Can

I can hear you laughing out loud as you're reading this. But I'm serious. Look at your list and your calendar. Think of the items you listed as your non-negotiable important desires. Consider cutting one engagement or to-do that doesn't support your desires. Just one. Or what can be postponed now to ensure you have the time you need to relax for a bit throughout the holiday season.

Make an Appointment to Relax

Treat relaxation like a doctor's appointment (and one that incurs a financial penalty for not showing up). If you're not able to schedule relaxation every day, consider booking some time at least once or twice a week until January. It's up to you if you want to do the same thing to relax each time or mix it up. Continue to be honest about what's important to you and how you best relax. Then protect that time ... for you.

How will you relax over the holidays? Tell us in the comments below.