12/15/2011 01:17 pm ET Updated Feb 14, 2012

6 Ways to Beat Holiday Stress

You've had it with the holidays. It's run, run, run, spend, spend, spend. You are actually happy when they are over. So how can you get through the holidays, and maybe actually enjoy them?

1. Embrace Imperfection

Sometimes the holidays are more like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree than a Rockefeller Center tree. And that is okay. It's okay to not have the holidays that you see on Christmas cards. News flash: Those holidays don't exist. That's why those cards sell -- people want to buy a little piece of that ideal holiday. You'll have better memories of a holiday that wasn't quite perfect than one that was perfect. Admit it -- perfect is boring.

And so what if you burn Christmas dinner. It makes for a better story later on. And so what if your house isn't totally spotless when you have company over. No one cares, no one remembers. But they will remember your great hospitality.

2. Start a New Tradition

If you've found yourself in less-than-prosperous circumstances this year, you can still celebrate the holidays with joy and love. You may not be able to get the big Christmas tree, but you can start new traditions. And when things are looking up again, you will look back upon those traditions with fond memories. The holidays are about the love and peace, not stuff. Start a tradition on Christmas Eve of having each person in the family write down what they love about their family. Then have them share that list with everyone. It doesn't cost a thing, and the memories last a lot longer than anything you can buy.

3. Pamper Yourself

It is perfectly okay to escape and treat yourself to some time off. Take a walk, go to the spa, go out to lunch with some good friends. Or just sit on your butt and do nothing. It is okay to just be. Just make sure you let someone know that you are going out, and tell them what time to expect you back. You may want to say, "Um, how about never?" but still, give them a decent time frame. And don't wait until the holidays are over -- you need a break now.

4. Do the "One Gift" Method

It can really break the bank when you have to buy a gift for your sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, other nephew, four cousins, etc. etc. -- never mind the amount of time you have to put into it. And you just know you're probably giving them something they already have. Here's a way to solve that problem. Get the family together and put everyone's names in a hat. Each person draws a name. That is the person they are buying or making a gift for this year. Period. One person. And it's random, so if someone complains, tough cookies for them.

5. Put Up Your Invisible Shield

The holidays almost guarantee that you will be spending time with family members that, well, you wish weren't. Family has this really special way of knowing exactly how to press your buttons. They know what really sets you off.

Here's a way to not let all that get to you. Pretend you are drawing an invisible shield around yourself. Start at your feet and visualize a shield forming around you, going all the way to the top of your head. This is your shield of impenetrability. No one can get through this shield. Snide comments just bounce right off of you. You can deal with this, because it is only temporary. It does not change who you are as a person, or your self-worth. So there.

6. Know the Reasons Behind the "Toy Shortage"

If toy manufacturers sold all their toys in December, where would their next month's profits come from? It's been said manufacturers have remedied this by purposely undersupplying popular toys during the holidays. They know they will have a big influx of buying when the toys magically reappear in January and February. It makes perfect sense. (Cialdini, 2009). Once you realize that it's all a money game, it takes the pressure off of you having to find that one special toy. Sometimes kids don't get the toys they want. And guess what -- they're just fine.

(Copyright 2011 Sarkis Media LLC)


Cialdini, R.B. (2009). Influence: Science and practice (5th ed.). New York: Pearson Education Inc.