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Here are some ways to simplify right now.  There's some harsh truths ahead:


Modify some traditions.  A lot of traditions can take on a life of their own and just get so complicated that they stop being fun.  My friend's family starting assigning more and more complicated ways of doing a secret Santa.  Suddenly it wasn't enough to pull a name and get them a gift.  They also needed to pull a color or a flavor or a song and get only gifts related to that.  What?! Settle down.  Some things are best left alone.  Simplify.  Go back to the basics on any traditions that have gotten out of hand.

Create your own priority list.  Yours.  It doesn't need to match anyone else's, not even your family's.  If you don't take stock of your own priorities when life is busy, I assure you that no one else will.  Putting yourself dead last on your own to do list isn't doing anyone any favors.  That's not to say that you can't then do something that's on someone else's list.  John's priority is zoo lights.  Do I care that much?  No, but I go because he loves it.  He likewise does things that are high priority for me that he doesn't really care about.  But if I didn't make my own ranked list, he wouldn't know how important something is to me.  And if something is really low on everyone's list, skip it.  Enjoy the free time.

Create boundaries.  Boundaries on your time, on your home, on your mind, everything.  They're necessary.  No one else will guard your time for you.  And they definitely won't guard your mental well-being, so you need to create your own boundaries.  Stop spending time doing things that upset you with people who bring you down.  My boundary?  I haven't seen my mom's mother in 20 years, except at the occasional funeral and even then I pretend she's invisible.  Horrible human beings who make you feel bad don't need space in your life.  Period.  Even if it is Christmas.

Mind your own business.  It really can be that simple.  It might be your family but not all family drama is your drama.  If two cousins are fighting, leave it alone.  If your dad and his brother aren't talking, you don't have to pick sides.  You don't have to mediate, you don't have to stand up for anyone who is perfectly capable of taking care of their own business.  Just stay in your lane because you can't fix something that has nothing to do with you and will probably resolve itself in a month anyway.

Don't make other people's problems your own.  Like minding your own business, you can instantly simplify your life by not making other people's problems your own.  Some people just thrive on drama and theatrics and create issues that don't exist or are much smaller than they're making them seem.  Don't buy in.  And during the stressful holiday season, sometimes people really are just venting to you and thinking through their problems out loud.  They're not actually asking for help or solutions, just an ear.  The best thing you can do is listen.

Remember, someone else's lack of planning is not your emergency.  If you don't have the time or mental energy, you do not need to do someone else's tasks at the last minute - it's not your emergency.  Your little brother forgot to make the green bean casserole assigned to him for Thanksgiving?  Well maybe you just don't have it this year.  You did not create this problem, you don't need to bear the cross of it if it's just not in your schedule.  He can figure out a last minute solution, he's an adult.  Don't be the martyr rescuing everyone and then feeling resentful about it.

This post turned out a little harsher than I anticipated!  But I stand by it.  How will you simplify the holiday season?