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Holiday Cheer

The holidays are fast approaching. For most people, this is a time of great anticipation, and also a lot of work. There are presents to buy, decorations to put up, preparations for travel or for guests, and this year, there is the added financial uncertainty. So, as wonderful as this time of year is, it can also be very stressful.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind that can help you enjoy the holiday season more.

Manage your expectations. Set reasonable Goals. Remember who you are.

This time of year, we are all bombarded with messages reminding us that ‘tis the season to be jolly, and images of families where everyone is smiling and enjoying themselves. On top of this, you might be engaged in some serious spiritual reflection, and feel some internal pressure to make personal changes.

Be fair to yourself. The pressure is definitely on during the holidays. View the holidays for what they are: a significant, potentially really meaningful, unrehearsed family pageant. Families with long established traditions and families who are spontaneous and creative do best at these times. But many others fall back into old, not so healthy patterns. Maybe your family has its own “Joe, the Plumber” who drinks too much, is loud, and says offensive things. Or, when you get together, you immediately return to not so healthy family patterns established when you all were children.

You enjoy the ritual, the holiday foods (although there’s usually too much), and the festive atmosphere. But you don’t feel authentic; you can’t really be yourself.

Much of this is because the holidays only happen once a year, and run themselves more or less on auto-pilot.

My suggestions?

* If possible, talk with your family about ways to make the holiday celebration more meaningful to you.
* Set a goal to accomplish one thing that will make your holiday experience meaningful, or that will help you stay centered through the holiday period.
* Have an in-depth one-to-one conversation with someone in your family you want to know better.
* Exercise everyday.
* Connect everyday with your primary family or friends, the people you are with everyday, not just holidays. This will help you remember who you are in your normal life.
* Limit your drinking and other ways you’re tempted to overindulge. These behaviors contribute to your losing yourself.
* Laugh at yourself, and forgive others when they are out of sorts.
* Get involved in charitable giving. Help someone in need.

Next, I’ll share some ideas about making New Year’s resolutions stick.

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