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Stressed? How to Thrive and Enjoy the Holiday Season

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You are feeling stretched like a taut rubber band. The holidays are upon us; a lot of work still has to be done before year-end, and the social events and gifts-giving times are looming. And what about the weather? Dressing for it and being in it are already stressful enough. Ahhh. Take a short pause, breathe deeply -- everything will be fine.

Hah, you say, I'm overwhelmed and there's so much going on that I can almost scream! Yes, I understand that you are feeling stressed and pulled in more ways than you can handle. It's exhausting. Please take a moment to come present. Only when we are truly here do we have the discernment to know how to handle the many things we have to deal with. Pause. Take a deep breath, let all the air out, and now take another deep breath, let it out again, repeat. Shrug your shoulders, yawn. Rotate your head from side to side gently. Slowly swing your arms and shake your legs. Are you coming back into your body a little bit now?

The truth is that stress doesn't come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about these circumstances. -- Andrew Bernstein

The special challenge around the holiday season is that we have many memories and expectations of what the season is supposed to be like. We may have rosy memories or sad remembrances of the past and glowing assumptions of what the season should offer -- all of which keeps us from dealing with what is actually in front of us. Acknowledge and give thanks for the joys and lessons we learned from the past. Use the happy reminiscences to fortify us for whatever is happening in the present. The ones that bring back tears and regrets can help us realize that things can change; the hurt may linger but it can be less severe. What have we learned from the experiences?

My mother passed away between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. This time of the year brings back many memories. I can take comfort in that she is out of suffering now. What I give thanks for is that I was able to express all that I wished to say with her before she died. I can speak to her spirit, and thank her for the lessons she taught me, and the example she was in many ways.

Can you look at the things that caused you grief to find the good in them? Each experience holds within it lessons, and when we regard them that way, we find solace amidst the pain. If you have regrets, communicate your request for forgiveness, express gratitude, love and or pardon with the ones who are still living if appropriate, or just write them a letter and burn the papers if it is not. The key here is to release the past so that you can live in the present with the benefit of the wisdom gained.

Know that we can still communicate with people who have passed on spiritually. Write them, speak out loud to them, share your feelings with loved ones who will listen, and/or seek the support of your spiritual teachers and therapists.

Take a bit of time to be in nature. Nature is a powerful healer. Meditate, pray, and know that you are not alone in your feelings. Seek a group that deals with your issue; there are many that you can find via your family, friends, healers, support and spiritual groups, and on the Internet.

Care for yourself. In the midst of all the busyness, we often forget to eat well, exercise, sleep enough, and do the self-care routine that we usually do. Our body, mental state and emotions are going to suffer when we neglect ourselves. We need to put on our own oxygen mask on first before we can put it on others for us all to survive.

Laugh, if that's too hard, smile. Just by the process of moving your facial muscles that way will cause your body to release positive hormones, and la and behold, you'll begin to feel better. Not everything actually needs to get done. Choose to do the ones that will have lasting impact. Share, give to others, when you give it makes you feel better.

Give a smile, gifts, donations to your favorite causes, they and you both will benefit. Yes, things will work out, maybe not the way we envision, but things will be fine in the long run. Celebrate the small reasons for joy: a parking space, a found penny, or a sunny day. Dwelling in the positive will help sustain you. Most of all remember that you are not alone.

Here's to a happy, healthy holiday season. May you always find the joy and goodness in each situation. I'm standing with you.

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Marilyn Tam grew up as an abused and neglected child in Hong Kong. She found her life purpose at age 11 when she found out as bad as her life was; she was much better off than her classmate, Rebecca. Wanting to help others and to right the wrongs, she left home as a teen to come to America alone to study. She became a business leader (CEO Of Aveda, President of Reebok and Vice President of Nike) and a global humanitarian. She shares in her latest book, "The Happiness Choice" how you can live a life of happiness, health and success. It's her way of giving back to the world for all the blessings she's received. The Happiness Choice http://www.marilyntam.com/books.html tells the stories and insights from Marilyn and many experts, including, Jack Canfield, Joan Borysenko, Harville Hendrix, Arielle Ford and others on how to live the life of your dreams. The book was #3 top business book in March, and won the Silver Medal in the Global eBook Awards 2013. Her radio show, The Happiness Choice on FMG Network is broadcast globally to over 30 million listeners. Marilyn is a regular blogger on Huffington Post.

You can get more free gifts and insights and find out about Marilyn on her website, http://www.m arilyntam.com/books.html and connect with her on facebook.

Marilyn Tam is an international selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, humanitarian and former CEO of Aveda, President of Reebok Apparel Products & Retail Group and VP of Nike and the Founder and Executive Director of Us Foundation. www.MarilynTam.com