5 ways to slow down and savor the holidays

Woodland Hills resident Connie Sokol is the author of "Simplify & Savor the Season."

Woodland Hills resident Connie Sokol is the author of “Simplify & Savor the Season.” (Photo courtesy of Connie Sokol)

If your holiday to-do list is so long you can’t bear to check it twice, maybe it’s time to slow down and give up a few activities this Christmas. After all, seasonal traditions should be about spreading cheer, not adding stress.

Woodland Hills speaker, author and television personality Connie Sokol recently released the book “Simplify & Savor the Season,” a guide to organizing and re-energizing what she calls this “magical, migraine-inducing” time of year.

Sokol said that book originally started as a talk given at a women’s conference about how to survive and thrive during the holidays. “Giving the talk was a perfect opportunity to sit down and really organize my thoughts and desires on how to ‘do’ the holidays better — with less stress, more meaning, and all-around joy.”

What developed was a guide to organizing and simplifying the holidays, paired with a helping of Christmas-themed anecdotes from Sokol’s own life. Here, the 48-year-old mother of seven shares five suggestions for managing the holiday madness:

1. Focus on a feeling

When trying to decide which activities to scrap and which to keep, remember it’s all about memories. “What do you want your family to feel during the holidays?” asked Sokol. Do you want your family members to feel peace, joy, love, excitement? Once you decide what emotions you want to inspire, you can be more intentional when choosing from the multitude of activities available.

2. Put family first

“Let go of the inner controlling Mrs. Claus and understand that even she uses elves,” said Sokol. Let your kids help with the holiday decorating, gift wrapping and cookie baking, even if the result isn’t perfect. And involve your children in the holiday planning. It may surprise you what activities are most meaningful to them.

3. Keep it simple

To help pare down your holiday to-do list, Sokol recommends asking the following questions:  Am I doing this to create family memories or for show? Am I making this because I love my family or to check it off the list? Am I being present in the moment or already planning ahead? Answering these questions honestly can be a good first step in eliminating unnecessary holiday “fluff.” "Simplify & Savor the Season"

4. Beware of stress

The holiday season marks a shift in life and potentially in one’s mood, said Sokol. As life gets busier, it’s crucial to take care of yourself. “Sometimes self-care is the best thing you can do — others will benefit when you’re stress-free,” according to the American Psychological Association, in a web article about managing holiday stress.

Rest up, eat well, and follow these stress-fighting techniques Sokol recommends in her book (originally found on Healthy.com):

  • Put a drop of lemon or orange essential oils on your wrist or hanky to smell throughout the day.
  • Get some sunlight by sitting near a window.
  • Calm your mind and body with a brisk walk during the day.
  • For a quick tension release, press the fleshy place between your index finger and thumb (called the hoku spot in traditional Chinese medicine) for 30 seconds.
  • Laugh to reduce stress and improve your immune system.

5. Honor the spirit of the season

For Sokol, this means reading from the devotional book she wrote, “40 Days with the Savior,” as she daily reflects on the birth of Christ and having Christ-like attributes. For others, it might mean finding a way to perform a daily act of kindness in the spirit of holiday giving. “Whatever you do, make the season meaningful on a daily basis,” said Sokol.

— “Simplify & Savor the Season: Organize and Re-energize Your Holidays!” is available on Amazon.com. For Connie Sokol’s blog, TV segments, podcasts and more, visit conniesokol.com.

Giveaway: To receive a free copy of Connie Sokol’s new book, email one way that you simplify or savor the holiday season to lifechange@rfburst.com.


Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

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