How to stay sane during the holidays

by Rayna van Aalst December 21, 2017

How to stay sane during the holidays

When people hear my name, they often say it means “Queen”. I’m starting to believe it stands for “Wonder Woman”.

Especially around the holidays or basically anytime of the year there is a party, or a big event involved.

For example, the night before my wedding I had 4 hours of sleep while I normally need 9 hours to be well rested. And it wasn’t that I couldn’t sleep because of all the excitement. I was busy folding menus and name cards. And doing other things of less importance. I could say I was doing that because we wanted a small wedding, but the truth is that even if we had 200 guests, I most likely would still have done pretty much everything myself.

I could have asked my mother who was sleeping upstairs for help with the cards but No! Wonder Woman can do everything and take care of everyone herself.

That’s why in the morning of my wedding day, while everyone was having breakfast, I was lying down on the couch with cool cucumber rings on my eyes to make the puffiness and dark circles go away.

It’s for the same reason that on Christmas when family and friends are arriving, I’m still getting dressed.

But living with myself for 30+ years, I’ve gotten better at keeping my Wonder Woman tendencies at bay, so I not only stay sane but I also enjoy myself and the day ahead.

Here are a few things which help me tremendously.


Stress doesn’t only make you less pleasant person to be around (if not a person to be avoided altogether) but it also shows on your skin. Literally.

Under eye bags, flaky skin, break outs to name just a few.

What works best for me is to write down EVERYTHING I plan/want/need to do, in this case for Christmas. Everything, even the most mundane stuff. Obviously, you don’t need to write down going to the restroom, but things like wrapping gifts, choosing an outfit for my daughter, texting my brother to buy something en route to the party, walking out the dog before the guests arrive, all need to go on the list.

Everything, until nothing else comes to my mind.

Then I ask myself “What would it look like of it was simple?”. “It” is whatever I’m planning – Christmas Dinner, birthday party, etc. I learned this question from Tim Ferris.

I know I’m good at underestimating how much time something takes me, I am well aware of my inclination to take on too many things, so I make sure to get ultra clear on what must happen for the day to be a success (whatever that means to me for that particular occasion).

I stress on the word “must” because there are always things “which would be nice” to happen but no one would notice, if they don’t. And crossing them off my to-do list gives me extra peace of mind.

An example of a “must” for me is the sarmi which are a traditional Christmas dish in Bulgaria. “Would be nice to happen” is the chocolate cake, I’ve been wanting to do for some time now, while I know that my mother-in-law is bringing a dessert.


To all the Wonder Women out there – only a strong person can say “Would you please help me?”.

It was the discovery of the century for me when I found out that people love to help. It also makes them, and you, feel like you belong.

I used to spend hours in the kitchen while the rest are laughing in the living room. My mother-in-law would come over every 15 minutes asking how she could help. My answer was always “Thank you. I'm fine. Everything is under control”.

Then I decided to let go and accept the idea that the end result would be different than what I imagined and agreed for her to help. She was so thrilled she could cook with me. And I love chatting with her while she's helping me.

Now I enjoy watching her (secretly) make Christmas bread together with my daughter. Such a heart warming sight to see a grandmother and her granddaughter cook together.

In the meantime I have time to take a sip from my glass of wine.

And of course, the people around you do prefer to see you enjoying yourself instead of being fagged by countless chores.

Just ask.


Especially true for New Year’s Eve parties at which dinner is served very late, or if theres only finger food.

The last thing you want is to get drunk with one glass of champagne because your stomach was empty.


The two main reasons I make sure I’m well hydrated at all times are the headaches and the fatigue I get when I’m dehydrated. I’m always amazed at how a glass of water could be a much-needed boost of energy.

If I'm dehydrated, so will be my skin. A spritz of a facial mist every now and then helps to keep the skin hydrated and is be a welcome pick-me-up.

My favorite mists to spritz when I wear makeup are Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator, as well as Leahlani Bohemian Ruby and Citrus and Citrine, because of the “cloud” of mist they create. The travel-sized Hydrating Accelerator has the added benefit of being super light and easy to carry in a purse, even a clutch, depending on its size.

All these mists can be stored in a fridge for an extra cooling effect.


I’ve written about the power of aromatherapy before and since it’s something so simple, yet powerful, I’ll say it again. When things get busy and you feel like your head is going to explode, just stop. Take a few deep breaths, rub your favorite aromatherapy scent on your wrists and breathe in. Feel the scent do its magic.

Rayna van Aalst
Rayna van Aalst


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