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Have Fun Without the Stress This Holiday Season

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The holidays are a time for loving family gatherings, joy, celebration and happy endings. In real life, however, unless you have a personal event planner or live in the Land of Oz, it's difficult, stressful and maybe even impossible to pull off the perfect holiday that the media so readily portrays for us in ads, movies and music.

Here are a few ways to calm your nerves and your expectations during the "most wonderful time of the year."

Breathe

Check your breathing right now. Is your chest even moving? It's a wonder we can keep ourselves alive with the shallow bird breaths we take all day. Holiday time or not, make sure you consciously take a few gargantuan breaths every hour -- the kind that make your belly look five months pregnant!

Buy Gift Certificates and Consumables

Remember when you were a teen and how you much you "loved" that snowman sweater set from Aunt Kate or the Virgin Mary statue from Grandma? Buying gifts for teenagers is too stressful. Ask their parents what stores they frequent and buy them a gift certificate. Movie passes also work well.

As for your adult friends and family, do you really think they need another "thing" to clutter up their home? Buy them something they can consume. You can find reasonably-priced gift baskets filled with delicious food items at stores like Costco or on the Internet. Or, how about a restaurant gift certificate or homemade cookies?

Be Naughty to Be Nice

If you're the one in the household in charge of the holiday social calendar, entertaining, cooking, gift buying and peace keeping, it's easy to understand why you have no holiday cheer to spread around after doing all of that! Take some time for yourself. While you might feel naughty playing hooky from work to have a massage, go to a movie or buy yourself a present, nurturing yourself first will allow you to be joyful around others and avoid those holiday blues.

Give the Relatives a Break

You know who they are. You know what they do or say to push your buttons. So, make a choice in advance. Don't go there with them. Don't push back. Let them be. Sip your eggnog and be an observer instead of a participant in the family dramas this year. You'll be amazed at how things simmer down when you don't feed the pushers!

Enjoy the Food

Restricted diets deprive you, and when you feel deprived you get depressed and stressed. Don't start a diet during the holidays and don't feel guilty about everything you put in your mouth. Be thankful and thoroughly enjoy the food you usually only eat only once a year. Food can bring back loving memories of childhood. Soak it up. Just remember to step away from the buffet table when you're full!

Be Happy Rather Than Perfect

Strive for a happy holiday rather than a perfect one. Get rid of any preconceived family or media expectations of what you should or shouldn't be doing this holiday season. Instead, ask yourself, "Am I enjoying this?" If you are, keep doing it. If you're not, figure out a way to change it, even if you have to disappoint someone or say "no."

Photo Credit: Falko Matte, Dreamstime.com

For more by Debbie Gisonni, click here.

For more on holiday stress, click here.

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