Create Stress-Free Holidays


"Most people pursue pleasure with such breathless haste
they hurry right past it."

Soren Kjerkegaard 

OK, so it's the first week of it too early to start talking about the holidays? I think not - after all, go into any shopping mall or department store, and you're already surrounded by holiday decorations. 

What better time than now to start setting up your holidays this year so that you truly enjoy them? You do have that choice, you know. You can choose a completely stress-free, joyful holiday season this year. Really, you can! 

Most of us get so busy with all the activities, shopping, baking, planning, present-wrapping, party-attending, and keeping-up-with-Martha-Stewart holiday decorating that we completely miss out on the joys of the season. 

My invitation to all of you, over the next two months, is to create and experience a wonderful, joyful holiday season! 

What causes you the most stress during the holiday season? Is it baking for hours to create meals that take 20 minutes to eat, or shopping for the next 50 days to pick out the perfect gifts? Do you enjoy attending every holiday party you've been invited to, or does the thought wear you out? Is it charging all those gifts, and paying for them until July of next year? Is it spending time with people you really don't enjoy, yet feel obligated to see? 

Take a few minutes and write down 5 activities, traditions, and obligations you no longer enjoy (or maybe never enjoyed!). Now take a look at how you can eliminate them from your holiday this year. Again, you have this choice. You'll also want to give your family and friends fair warning that you'll be making some changes this holiday season (so start now!), and let them know why. 

Now take a few minutes and look at what you truly enjoy about the holidays. Think of some creative ways to add more of what you love to this season. 

Is it the feeling of closeness with friends and family? If so, is buying presents going to create that feeling? Or is there another way to share it? 

Is it the sense of quiet and peace? If so, how about making sure you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy...which may mean giving up some of your usual holiday activities. 

Maybe you love a variety of homemade cookies, yet don't want to invest an entire weekend. How about creating a cookie exchange at work or with friends? Each person bakes a dozen cookies for each member, and then you all trade cookies. That way, you all get a variety, and you've saved a lot of time in the process. You could even get together to do the baking, and enjoy each other's company in the process. 

Or maybe you really want to spend quiet time with some special people in your life, yet don't see how you'll fit it all in, or how you'll travel to see them. How about making that your holiday gift to them...the gift of yourself and your time? 

The key to a joyful holiday season is keeping the traditions you truly love, and letting go of all the rest.