Expert Advice

How to Navigate the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind

Rick Clemons gives some tips for keeping your sanity this holiday season.

The season is upon us. Regardless of what holiday you and your lovely gay dad family play homage to, this time of year can truly eat your holiday cookies if you're not careful. From demands from family and friends, to getting everything on everyone's wish lists just right, you will lose yourself and your mind if you're not keeping your little snifter of Brandy handy. Just kidding, but not kidding.

The trick to keeping your sanity, your family, and yourself in the holiday cheer without causing tears (which is easier said than done sometimes), is to give yourself some gay dad self-care. Yes, that means taking time to yourself and making sure you don't lose your Fa-la-la-la la, la-la-la la or spin out of control like a Dreidel.

Hop on the sleigh, snuggle up, light up the fire, watch the snow fall, and take a quick hit of these sanity gifts for making the weeks of the holidays enjoyable…besides running off to a deserted island with Ryan Reynolds, Chris Hemsworth, or whomever the guy is that you wish would hop out of holiday giftbox this season for you.

Determine the best gift to give yourself, first.

No this is not selfish; it is called putting the oxygen mask on you, making sure it fits, so you can take care of the necessary madness that is the holidays. Get your mindset focused on the gift that you most want to give yourself through the holidays – less commitments, peace of mind, 30-minutes a day of alone time, the ability to say "No" without appearing like an ass. Focus and give yourself that gift from the onset of the holidays and share it with your partner, husband, and kids so that they know what you would like in order to be your best self for the holiday season.

Ask yourself, "What do I really want to do this season?" 

This is different, but may reflect the gift you want to give yourself. The question is truly about examining what you do and don't want to do and seeing if there is room for negotiation with family and friends. Prioritize what will make your holidays most special and stress free, and then go to the negotiation table with the people in your life who make the most demands of the time that is at hands in the holiday season. A great way to approach this is to have everyone ask themselves this same question and see how similar or different your lists are and see where there is common ground to adjust. Of course, be careful with the kiddos, they may say any number of things that really want this holiday season that may cause you to run for the eggnog.

Check in on your values as you make commitments.

If you value peace, integrity, honesty, planning, etc., with each decision that comes your way about the holidays, ask yourself, "How does this align with my own persona values?" Too often we forget that our values have the answers to most of our questions, frustrations, anxiety. When our values are out of alignment, then we feel angry, panicked, frustrated, or may even shutdown, then everyone thinks we are the biggest a-hole of the holidays. The sooner you can get situations aligned back with your values, the quicker things will be back on track.

Take a page from the Marie Kondo playbook.

If you don't know who Marie Kondo is, there's a chance we may have to take your gay card away. Not sure if that's true. I think she is more of a straight-woman icon, but any who…she is all about joy, joy, joy. If there are things in your life, in your house, in your world that don't bring you joy, then to the curbside they go according to Marie. Now, I'm not suggesting the husband or children get put curbsied in some mad rant because they didn't help clean up the kitchen. Nor am I suggesting that you tell Auntie Derek to hit the trail because he got blithering drunk at Thanksgiving last year and mistakenly mis-took the dining table for a Go-Go box at the club. We're going deeper to those things that you're doing that really don't bring you joy. It's about giving yourself permission to let it go, let it go, let it go, just like the words of the song, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. No joy, no keep! End of story.

Remember there's truth in those words – Peace on Earth! 

As challenging as it might be, think peace, peace, peace. How can you see things from a state of PEACE! Even when you are most challenged in situations, ask yourself, where can I find some sense of PEACE in what is occurring. If you can't, then take a minute, a breath, a break, and go walk away if that is the only way to find some peace. Nothing wrong with clutching your pearls and saying, "I need a moment!"

It's not about you, it's about them. 

This concept is not about pointing your own version of a scraggly, green Grinch like finger at others. As tempting as it might be, keep thine finger to thine self. Instead, in your head, that peaceful mindset that you are trying to maintain, simply remember that when someone reacts to you about anything – holidays, or any of the other 364 days of the year – What someone says is all about them. What you hear is all about you. Tis' the truth. The holiday fairies have told me so, so it must be true, and it is. When we hear what someone else says, it's about us and our interpretation of their words and the situation. The same holds true in reverse. The more you are capable of stepping into a space of non-judgment and acceptance that reactions – theirs and your own – is something we all have the right to own and choose. So, choose your emotions wisely, just like the perfect holiday gift and remember - What someone says is all about them. What you hear is all about you. I know I repeated that, but it is worth repeating. In fact, just get it tattooed somewhere on your body where you can read it, or have a chip inserted in your handsome head that plays it over and over and over again in your head like a never-ending repeat of Frosty The Snow Man.

Regardless of what you do to maintain your sanity this holiday season, remember it will all be over on January 1 and then you have 364 days to improve and prepare for next year. And if all else fails, well all else failed and you gave it your best shot and celebrate that thought!

About Rick

Rick Clemons is a well-known culture disruptor (in a good way), "closet buster (coming out coach)," and bold move strategist – people to live life with no excuses, no fears, no apologies. Tapping into his 25+ years experience in personal development, and leveraging being a late bloomer, coming out of the closet at 36, he's created a no B.S. approach for thriving as a gay man and father – personally and professionally. A frequent contributor to Huffington Post, YourTango, The Good Men Project, Rick loves writing (Frankly My Dear I'm Gay), podcasting (Life (UN)Closeted and 40 Plus: Real Men. Real Talk), facilitating out of the ordinary personal development experiences, and speaking to audiences across the globe on living life without apologies. He loves wine, his two grown daughters, and his husband, in that order but don't tell the hubby where he fits in the pecking order. Visit his website at

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