"Gloom we have always with us, a rank and sturdy weed, but joy requires tending."

-- Barbara Holland
Holidays are an opportunity for time off from our daily routines to enjoy time with family and friends. But, how often do we hear comments about the stress and pressure the holiday season creates?  Is it the season creating the stress, or us?  Let's have a joyous season.

1.     Plan ahead.
Waiting until the last minute might "get it done quickly," but usually requires an adrenaline rush.  Planning ahead will allow you the time to slow down and enjoy the moments. 

2.     Exercise more.
This might sound ridiculous, given that you are possibly doing too much already.  But since you are planning better this year, you won't be rushing around as much.  So you will have time for the daily exercise that will give you the energy to enjoy the celebrations. 

3.     Choose what you want to do and do it, guilt free. 
Are you starting to dread hearing the same annoying comments that you have been hearing for years?  So often we spend the holiday season going to parties or family gatherings that we simply don't want to attend.  The holiday season will only feel as merry as we are. Choose where and with whom you want to celebrate and do it.
Suggest alternatives that fit into your lifestyle.

4.     Volunteer.
By giving to others a funny thing happens, we actually receive more than we give.  Honest! 

5.     Practice good self care daily.
If you don't already have a self-care routine built into your daily life, then there is no better time to start.  Choose a time of day that is best for you, allowing at least thirty minutes.  Soak in the tub, read a story to a child, enjoy a hobby, whatever makes you smile.

6.     Prepare to wait in line.
Bumper to bumper traffic, trying to find a parking space, grocery store check out lines, the list goes on.  It is just a fact that holiday season means more shoppers, and lots of lines.  If you are expecting it and prepare yourself for the wait you will stand a much better chance of reducing stress. 

7.     Or shop online.
Modern technology has made it so easy to shop in your slippers while sipping your beverage of choice.  From Amazon to E-Bay there is something for everyone.  You can even have it shipped right to their door.  Include a special note to be enclosed that will personalize your gift.  Would you enjoy receiving a gift certificate? 

8.     Create a new tradition.
Circumstances such as divorce, or the death of a loved one can make celebrating feel awkward, if not impossible.  While some will find comfort in the continuation of tradition, others feel a sense of dread.  This could be a good time do something new, like going on a holiday cruise, or spending time with a friend at a relaxing spa.

9.     Laugh all the way to the bank.
If you really want to give a gift that pleases every child or teenager I've ever met, money always brings a smile.  There are so many ways to personalize a gift of cash if you just use your creativity.  Make a money wreath, or tape an envelope with a check or cash inside to something fun and silly like a bottle of bubbles, or a paddle ball. This will go over much better than a sweater that doesn't fit or a game they already have.

10.    No gifts please.
Many people are choosing to simplify their lives, eliminating the number of things coming into their homes.  If you truly don't want gifts and dread shopping, then express that as early as possible. You might be surprised how many people on your list will welcome your suggestion.  Perhaps spending time together at your favorite restaurant would provide the gift of a lasting happy memory.

By Judy Harrison, Life Coach
Copyright 2002 by Thomas J. Leonard
I couldn't resist this top ten list of reminders.  Coming right after a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, let's keep the fun alive.
This week:

1.     Spend 10 minutes preparing your vision of the holiday season you want this year. 

2.     Share your vision with your family and friends. 

3.     Enjoy!

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