It’s the beginning of December and before we fully jump into the fray of holiday insanity, I thought I’d take a moment to walk through a couple of ways you can take care of yourself throughout the month.


Get your list of swear words together: you know you’re gonna use them in the car, in the mall, or when the online store times out in the middle of your order. And if you’re around kids, you may want to replace the usual suspects with things like, “Son of a Seahorse!” or “Jiminy Cricket!” or the more generic “Frickinashickinastickina!” You can really play with that last one to make it your own.


Remember to move: didja drive to the mall? Then let that little turd who just took the spot near the entrance have that spot and go out a little further. If you track your steps, you’re gonna make out like a bandit. If you’re shopping online, get up every so often and take a few laps around the block, dance around your living room, or do a Rocky Balboa on your front steps. You gotta have five minutes since you just did your shopping online.


Wear good shoes: I love a sweet looking pair of boots but, by golly, if you’re gonna trot around creation for hours making sure everyone gets their heart’s desire, then make sure you’re not going to be crippled by the end of it.


Consider a backpack: of course, this is a great place to put your wallet and your keys but arm yourself with some water and snacks so you’re not staring at the food court or Mrs. Fields’ cookies like you hadn’t had a meal in weeks. You’ll also be able to carry smaller gifts in your backpack and keep your arms free for browsing.


Find a good show: you could find it walking around your neighborhood, you could make a trip out to the Boston Common during lunch or to the Stone Zoo over the weekend. The whole point is to jimmy a little holiday magic into your errands, taking a break from the checklists. At what other time of the year are you going to see a 10-foot menorah? Or a lawn totally overrun with mechanical reindeer? Don’t miss your shot.


Shake it out: we’ve been lucky with the weather, but when it starts getting a wee bit nippy outside, take a couple of minutes once you get home to do a few big shoulder shrugs. Jump in place letting your shoulders drop as far as you can or anchor your feet to the ground (at least your toes) and swing your arms around your body. After being scrunched up against the cold in your outside gear, it’ll feel good to unfurl.


Stretch it out: perhaps you’ve spent a lot of time in front of the computer giving Amazon something to do, finished a Christmas movie marathon, or prepared a few rounds of cookies for a cookie swap. If so, get up, grab a broom or a towel, and hold it overhead. Stretch to your left, breathe deep, stretch to your right, breathe deep. Move the broom/towel to both hands straight behind you and then bend forward bringing the broom/towel as far overhead as you can. Breathe, shake your head around, then breathe some more. In that little routine alone you have opened up your rib cage, taken a load off of your neck and lower back, AND opened your chest. Happy Holidays to YOU.


Do good: maybe you make a donation to an organization you believe in. Maybe you offer to give some kids a free ride on the carousel outside of Market Basket. Whatever you do, know that you’ve just sweetened someone’s day. That’s holiday GOLD no matter how big or small the deed is.


Give yourself a break: there may come a point where there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. And if no one is starving or standing out in the cold that may be okay. Just remember that you’re part of the holiday too and if you’re totally wrecked that’s way more disappointing then if your holiday cards don’t get out on time (I learned that one last year).


Marinate in the company of loved ones: you can do it while you’re shopping or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” or taking in those lights I was talking about earlier but surround yourself with people (or pets) you love to hang with. People are crazy busy these days. So, getting the chance to slow down and laugh together is as much a gift as anything else you receive over the holidays. And when you’re with people who are driving you crazy, beloved pets can often make you feel better just by looking at you – it is THEIR gift.