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Help! The Holidays are Coming!

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The holidays will soon be here. Who can hardly wait for the shopping, decorating, wrapping gifts, cooking, baking, visiting with loved ones, mailing cards, attending holiday events, etc., etc…… Whew! No wonder the holidays can cause so much stress! Holidays have great meaning in our lives and are great for helping us re-connect with loved ones, friends and traditions we hold dear, but can also bring a lot of stress into our lives that can make some of us wish we can just skip them for a year or so.

I've recently done a little "research" on ways to bring those stress levels down over the holidays and enjoy them the way they're meant to be. Four reoccurring messages kept popping up in all the literature:

1) Set realistic goals for what you can accomplish each day. Don't set yourself up for failure by expecting to complete too many goals in too little time.

2) Remember to build down time into your schedule. We can all get very grouchy when tired, so build in at least 15 minutes of alone time with no distractions. Just getting in a good stretch or taking a short cat nap can be refreshing.

3) Simplify! It's ok to use paper plates this year instead of the good china or to buy the rolls instead of making them from scratch.

4) Don't abandon healthy habits. You continue to need daily exercise and adequate rest – especially during the holidays when everyone tends to overeat and overindulge.

Other ideas for keeping stress at a minimum this holiday season include:

1) Modify your holiday cooking habits. Try making casseroles and/or meals that you can freeze ahead of time. Freeze sugar cookies ahead of time and save the decorating for later. Host a potluck style dinner instead of cooking everything up yourself.

2) Trade off holiday shopping time with another family. Babysit each other's children so you can have quality time to shop.

3) Delegate duties and don't try to do everything on your own.

4) Set differences aside and accept family members and friends as they are. Holiday times may not be the right time to bring up grievances and try to solve past issues.

5) Learn to say "no" – or at least "I need to think about it."

And finally, always keep your sense of humor! Maintaining your sense of humor during the holidays keeps things light and puts a different perspective on situations that can emerge. I wish all of you readers a happy, stress-free holiday season!