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Give Yourself the Gift of No Holiday Stress

We are in the thick of the holidays, which means we’re seeing a lot of tinsel, having plenty of family gatherings, marveling at multicolored lights … and dealing with stress. I recall watching movies like “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Home Alone.” All have become Christmas classics and yet each portrays some of that stress of the holiday season.

This is a time when our expectations are much higher than they might be during the rest of the year. We create more pressure on ourselves to achieve lofty goals. We also may see a shift in mood due to the loss of a family member, loneliness, financial difficulties, sickness and weather changes. 

How can we enjoy this time and decrease our stress? Here are nine ways:

1. Decompress daily.

Take at least 15 minutes every day to be alone. Use it to reboot your system. Do breathing exercises to relax. Listen to music, read a book, take a bath, close your eyes, meditate or sit quietly. Do this daily, not only during this season. It really works.

2. Exercise regularly.

Do this daily to enjoy good, lasting health. It has been proven that exercise on any level can help decrease stress levels significantly.

3. Have realistic expectations.

It is better to have lasting memories than a perfectly decorated house. It may be as pretty as a magazine cover, but what if there are no happy memories to accompany that picture? 

4. Set a budget.

We want the biggest and newest gifts advertised, but do we need them? Do we see ourselves using them three months later? Is the debt worth it? A budget can save us from many financial commitments and headaches. Give what is needed, gifts that will be reused or have an emotional significance. Give time, hugs and love.

5. Give back.

See how many of your neighbors will be alone this season, how many kids will not receive any gifts or how many new widows will be missing loved ones. Give to a charity, adopt a pet from a refuge and practice doing random acts of kindness. This will bless those on the receiving end, but they will bless you as well.

6. Keep an open mind.

If you have relatives visiting, remember every person has their own personalities and opinions. This is a time to share with them, not change them. This may help you avoid confrontations and prevent hurting anyone’s feelings.

7. Always plan ahead.

If you are traveling, make a list in advance of all you need to do and pack. Create deadlines and stick to them. If you are going to church, make sure you know the schedule. If you have family visiting, make sure you have extra towels, toothbrushes and blankets ready. And if you are shopping, do not wait until the last minute!

8.  Remember, less is more.

Keep in mind calories do count on the holidays too. You may indulge in some special foods or traditional dishes, but exercise portion control and moderation.

9. Don’t forget – you are making memories that will last forever.

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