Bust Holiday Stress!

The holidays will be here before you know it. Clear the way for greater joy, love and meaning this year by "busting" these sources of holiday stress:

1. TOO MUCH TO DO IN TOO LITTLE TIME

This week, set holiday priorities with your family. Discuss what traditions to keep, which to discard, and which new traditions to try.

Make a holiday to-do list NOW and create a realistic schedule for when to accomplish each item.

Avoid overscheduling.

Ask family members for help with holiday tasks.

2. LONG LINES IN STORES

Shop via catalog or Internet, and avoid stores on weekends.

If you're shopping with small children, take along snacks, books, toys or other items to make waiting in line more pleasant. Or, if you're sufficiently uninhibited, sing a holiday song with your child.

If you're shopping alone, use waiting time to relax and and center yourself with meditation or prayer. Try directing your attention to your breathing at your belly. Or practice observing the people around you through the eyes of compassion, without judging. Give thanks or pray for healing, peace, or other concerns close to your heart.

3. DIFFICULT RELATIVES

Take some quiet time to develop a plan for taking care of yourself around relatives who "get your goat."

Invest in yourself by using a therapist to help create a plan to protect your boundaries.

4. CRANKY KIDS

Think "low key" for a happy celebration with little ones. Remember that your small child thrives on your undivided attention and has a limited capacity to adjust to adults' "needs" to hurry.

Protect your child's naptime and playtime.

Spend "floor-time" with your child every day.

5. COMMERCIALISM

Create family traditions that involve giving to those in need.

Focus on low-cost or no-cost holiday traditions.

Help keep children's expectations realistic. For example, you might say "You'll get about the same amount of presents as you did on your birthday."

6. BILLS

Decide on a holiday budget for entertaining and gifts.

If credit cards make overspending too easy, stick to cash for holiday purchases.

7. LOSS

If you have lost a loved one, the holidays may intensify your grief. Explore ways to cope at www.griefnet.org/library/articles/hfa-tips.html or www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=FL00055.

If "holiday blues" persist or seem particularly intense, don't hesitate to reach out for professional help. Your physician or clergyperson can give you a referral.

8. POST-HOLIDAY LET-DOWN

Spread out the fun at least through the end of school vacation by planning an outing or a fun time at home for each day. A little forethought and planning can go a long way towards making you glad the holidays are coming - instead of just being glad when they're over. Your wisdom holds the key to holiday joy.

2004 Norma Schmidt, Coach, LLC

Norma Schmidt, Coach, LLC, specializes in helping working mothers create balance. She offers workshops, teleclasses and individual and group coaching. She also edits "The Balance Point," a free e=mail newsletter. Visit http://www.NormaSchmidt.com to learn more.

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