My mami likes to tell me about how, when I was a child, she’d have to make sure I took a break every day during the Christmas season for some “quiet time” by myself. It seems if I didn’t, the holiday hubbub would get to me and I would just start crying uncontrollably out of nowhere—for no real reason at all apart from the fact that I was just overwhelmed by all the noise and activity and people. Aunts, uncles, cousins (I have 18 first cousins alone) plus friends and extended family always made for extremely chaotic festivities.

I also remember how my grandmother would go for a walk all by herself every single day of her life. These walks not only kept her fit and healthy, but I believe they may have been the key to her legendary unflappable disposition.

I’m sure you can see how some alone time would help you deal with the stress and fast-pace of the holiday season. Some of us have even had our doctors tell us to slow down! But that can be easier said than done for a busy mami during this frenetic time of year. A day at the spa or even a mani-pedi is completely out of the question. So how can you get away from it all and find some “Me time”? Here are a few of my secret tips!

Like lots of mamis, I’m always the one doing the shopping. Whether it’s the groceries for the Big Feast or presents for friends, family or teachers—if there’s shopping to be done you can bet I’ll be the one doing it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take a little mental health break while I’m out. It may be as simple as taking a few minutes to sit down and savor a peppermint latte or a detour to my favorite section of the bookstore for a little escape browsing (I adore bookstores during the holidays—they’re so quiet). Take it from me, just a few minutes here or there can mean the difference between walking through your door with a smile on your face or a frown.

Read Related:  3 Steps to Create Inner Calm

Sometimes the problem is that you’re away from home visiting family or friends for the holidays and there’s just no way to get away without someone coming along. When I find myself in this situation, I always appoint myself Chief Sanitation Engineer (aka Trash Lady). That’s right, I volunteer to take out the trash. I go around collecting wrapping paper, turkey bones, etc. Don’t touch that nasty trash, let me. I am the Chief Sanitation Engineer! If nothing else, I get that little walk to and from the trash bin to myself! Another tip: I always collect the trash in plastic grocery bags, they are abundant and small. That means more trips!

Okay, so you’ve tried being sneaky and there is not a scrap of trash left in your home or anyone else’s and you still can’t get a break? Then it’s time for some plain speaking. Make it clear to your family that you will be taking 30 minutes for yourself today and every day through New Year’s. Don’t ask permission, but do give your family some options as to when that 30 minutes will be. When they ask why, calmly explain that (because you love them all very much) 30 minutes a day is what you need to make sure that everybody makes it to the New Year in one piece. Then, for heaven’s sake, make sure you spend that 30 minutes taking care of you. Get some light exercise, listen to your favorite music, watch funny videos on Youtube or whatever floats your boat. Just make sure you come back happier than when you left, and your family will soon make sure you get your alone time every day. Because the best gift you can give your family is a happy healthy mami to take care of them all year long.