10 simple rules for holiday cheer

Well, the holidays are heavily upon us and today's column offers a few tips to avoid too much stress or strain this year.

1. Don't spend more than you can afford.

This sounds obvious, but is a real problem for many people during the holidays. Pressure to get extravagant gifts for loved ones often sends us reaching for the credit cards and charging a lot more than we can comfortably afford. What results is tension and stress, putting a damper on holiday spirits and leaving us strained in the New Year.

2. Don't try to do more than you have time for.

Overbooking is a common problem at this time of year. There are family visits, dinners, parties and more. We tend to cram in as much activity as we can. Unfortunately, this can create exhaustion and feelings of resentment that we have so little time to enjoy relaxing at home with the family.

3. Don't spend time with people you don't enjoy being with.

Sometimes we feel obligated to participate in functions we find extremely stressful. Perhaps there is a lot of strain in extended family relationships past the point of reconciliation. Don't put yourself in a no win situation. Spend time with people you enjoy being around and say no to invitations that will only cause conflict and grief.

4. Do something unexpected for someone else.

This can be as simple as inviting a lonely co-worker for supper or spending time volunteering for one of the many deserving non-profit organizations in town. Taking some time to help others during the holiday season will be appreciated and may also help you to be fulfilled.

5. Do some planning to reduce stress and keep everyone involved.

One easy way of keeping the holidays cheerful is to have activities planned in advance. Leaving room for spontaneity is always good, but having a general plan for days away from work is very helpful for reducing stress. Try to make sure there is some variety in your planning so that everyone in the family is able to do something they enjoy.

6. Be realistic, your plans have to be consistent with your budget, time off and living arrangements.

Although we like to feel as though we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, there are limitations. Know yours. If you make plans you can't afford or don't have time for, you will end up feeling frustrated and disappointed. There are many enjoyable ways to spend the holidays that are inexpensive and accessible.

7. Don't do things solely because someone else expects it.

We've all experienced the feeling of obligation to attend a particular party or function over the holidays. In order to keep the season cheerful, try to avoid doing things simply out of obligation. If you will not get any enjoyment out of an activity, it is usually OK to politely decline.

8. Don't drink or eat excessively.

This is the tip no one really wants to hear over the holidays. There are so many tasty treats and festive beverages that most of us tend to over-indulge at least a little. Try to avoid this if you can. Moderation is the key. You will enjoy the holidays a lot more if you're not sick... and your waist-line will also thank you for your self-control.

9. Get some rest.

Make sure you get enough sleep and relaxation during the holidays. This is a time for restoring yourself so that when you return to the daily routine in the New Year you feel regenerated and ready for a challenge.

10. Attend to your spiritual needs - whatever those may be.

If you celebrate a religious or spiritual holiday at this time of year, make sure to give yourself adequate time and space to do so with meaning. This may involve taking time to attend a service or simply ensuring you have some quiet time for contemplation.

Have a great holiday and best of the season to you.


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