The holiday season is upon us and the year-end parties, far-flung vacations, and frantic search for gifts are fully underway. 

You would think that, after a year of intense productivity at work, at school, or at home, that we would all just want to shut things down temporarily and take a nice long break. That's how I treat this time of year, at least.

I usually limit my family's travel schedule because, frankly, travel is not only expensive these days, it can also be pretty stressful and exhausting. Staycation has become our byword for this time of year, the low-cost antidote to the expensive vacations we sometimes indulge in during the summer.

During this time of year, I do my best to ramp down, switch off, and relax. Besides recharging my batteries, I also save a lot of money, because the activities I engage in don't cost a lot.

Here's what you can do this holiday season that could help you unwind and unplug, without burning through your year-end bonus:

1. Read.

This really is one of my most relaxing and enjoyable activities. And except for the few dollars I might spend on a print book or e-book, it's an incredibly low-cost way to relax while refilling my mind with new knowledge and ideas. One genre I return to at this time of year is writing craft books, and I look forward to reading the ones I've started -- but have yet to finish. 

2. Listen.

This is the time of year when I binge listen to the podcasts I've been neglecting, and rediscover new ones. I love podcasts because it's the one type of media I can enjoy while doing something else, like my grocery shopping or cleaning my home.

3. Write.

For me, there's the day-job-writing which pays my bills, and then there's the weekend-and-late-night-writing, where I get to research and write about new topics I don't know much about, or expound on issues that I'm personally passionate about.

I'm looking forward this holiday season to catching up on my writing. I've got several interviews with entrepreneurs I need to write-up, and some blog posts I've been meaning to write for some time but haven't. I also plan to pull out my morning pages journal and start writing a couple pages each day just for the therapeutic effect it has on me.

4. Reconnect.

During the year, the days slip by, my life a blur of activities planned and ad hoc. Since most of my calendar is dominated by a mélange of work commitments and family priorities, I don't have much time left to just hang out with family and friends. I feel like I'm in a constant rush to get to the next meeting or arrive at my kids' next activity on time.

I look forward to slowing down and reconnecting with people without constantly worrying about the time.

5. Exercise.

This is one area that I've neglected this year. I've failed on this front. This holiday season, even before my new year's resolutions are supposed to take effect, I'll be hitting the gym.

6. Clean.

During the year, so much stuff accumulates at home and at my desk. Now is the time to sort, store, and discard. While I rarely spend enough time cleaning up and getting rid of unwanted junk during the year because I feel like it's a waste of my time, during the holiday season, I actually find it relaxing and therapeutic (and I can listen to my favorite podcasts while I do it).

7. Rest.

I'm usually awake at about 6:00 am every morning, not because I buy into all the hype around how productive I'm supposed to be by getting up early, but because that's when I need to wake my kids so they can make it to the bus stop before their 6:52 am pick-up. 

This holiday season, I so look forward to sleeping in, lounging around, and just plain doing nothing.