The Word of the Season is …

health, stress, de-stressing for the holidays, stress busters, simplify, exercise, meditate, relax, time out, tips from townCompartmentalize!! No, not Joy or Peace or Giving or even, my personal favorite Busy. The word is compartmentalize. I know this because my husband told me so. To be honest, he rarely says anything around this time of year that doesn’t piss me off. For instance, last night when we were writing Christmas cards at midnight, he said, “I love Christmas.” I know! Can you imagine?? This was met with the death stare. But, the compartmentalize makes sense to me.

The biggest problem with Christmas is that real life doesn’t stop. Work still needs to be done, kids still need to get to sports, my people need to eat, the stresses and worries of life don’t get put on hold because an enormous amount of shopping, wrapping and partying has to happen. We called this Silly Season growing up, because my mom always seemed to be losing her mind a bit in December. The windex would be in the fridge. She would call us by the cat’s name, Misty, which now makes me feel like a stripper. I am truly her daughter. I can’t find words, I can’t find my glasses, I can’t find the time and I can’t find the joy in the season.

Larry, the lover of Christmas (UGH, eye roll, how juvenile) sensed my anxiety. He is very intuitive and when I said, “I forking hate Christmas” and then said, “I’m going to lose my mind before the 25th,” he somehow picked up on my subtle stress, and offered Compartmentalize as a solution. He also offered a martini, but “compartmentalize” is more useful because of all the time I spend behind the wheel.

It is a great tool to preserve your mental health at this time of year. I know it is difficult, but try to focus on the task at hand. If you are helping your child with homework, you literally cannot be wrapping at the same time, so put it out of your head. When your mind wanders to the dark corners of undecorated trees and forgotten gifts, just bring it back to the present. When you are shopping, put the phone away and just give your attention to the thing you are doing. It is the same as being in the moment, except you will find yourself mostly in moments you want to escape from. Still, give it a try. Evidence shows people who can successfully compartmentalize are more efficient. Maybe we can find some time after all. It is occasionally working for me, and I’ve actually been able to sit still and watch some Christmas shows with the family … who is truly the cause of all my angst in the first place. Did I mention I hate Christmas?


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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness Coach. She helps clients with parenting issues, the challenges of college and young adulthood and issues related to health and habits. Email her at to learn more. She is the author of the Audible Original, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents.


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