Ten Stress Busting Tips for Happier Holidays

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Betty C. Carlson, EdD

Schedule some quiet time for yourself--take a walk, watch the sunset, sit at the beach and watch the ebb and flow of the tide [or take a quiet walk in the snow]. Think about the upcoming holiday season and identify priorities for your time and energy expenditures. Eliminate activities that are not satisfying to you personally or professionally.

Decide on a budget for holiday spending--write it down and stick to it! Pre-planning your budget now will eliminate impulse spending and reduce financial stress.

Use a large wall calendar for December to mark down activities, social events, and need-to-do items. Color code for each family member. Remember to schedule time to do family things together.

If using a catalog or shopping services, call early and keep a written record of your order. Use 1-800 numbers to reduce phone shopping costs.

Organize your gift wrapping supplies early. Stock up on extra tape, ribbon, gift tags, paper, and other items. Designate one place for gift-wrapping and keep all items together. Put scissors, colored pens, stickers, etc., back in the same place each time you use them.

If you send holiday cards, organize all supplies in one large box--cards, envelopes, your address list, stamps, return address stamp/labels, etc. Work on a few cards each day until you are finished. Set a deadline for mailing and work backward until completion.

Avoid lines at the post office. Mail packages early--stock up on stamps and other mailing supplies before the holiday rush. Contact your local post office to find out special hours for holiday schedules.

Examine your holiday activities and routines-eliminate those that are no longer rewarding for you. Ask for help from others, or delegate to family members who may have more time than you. Purchase or rent services that you need and don't have time to do.

Adjust your expectations of yourself this season--now is NOT the time for the "Martha Stewart" syndrome--doing everything perfectly, with grace, elegance, and style. Remember to have fun and enjoy the season.

Determine to do at least one POSITIVE and FUN thing for yourself this season. Often we are so caught up in holiday busyness that we neglect ourselves. Taking good care of YOU will enable you to enjoy the holidays more and be more relaxed and responsive for others.

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