Ken's Holiday Survival Guide or the Twelve Ways of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, etc.

Well, it's that time of year again. The holidays are fast approaching. You probably don't need me to tell you that. Personally, I enjoy the holidays. I also know many people find them stressful. I spend a fair amount of time in therapy sessions, helping people deal with the stress and anxiety of the season. So, I've put together a list of suggestions to help you enjoy the holidays without the stress and anxiety. I first published these suggestions a couple of years ago, and several people said they found them helpful. So I thought I'd pass them along again.


Feel free to pass them on to anyone who might need them, along with my best wishes for a happy, joyous and relaxing holiday season.

Decide Your Limits - Don't Over Schedule
The holiday season is a time of parties and other gatherings. You don't have to do it all. Figure out what you truly desire vs. what you feel obligated to do. Do only what you truly desire to do. Your only obligation is to enjoy yourself.
 
Avoid Travel
If you have to travel, pay a little extra for direct flights. You'll avoid the stress of having to rush from one plane to the next, or having to wait around for long periods of time. If you have to have a lay over, avoid laying over in Chicago. It's one of the busiest airports in the world, and the winter weather often creates long delays.
 
Limit Car Time
I've heard a lot of people say that they spend too much time in the car on Thanksgiving and Christmas, driving from one gathering to the next in an effort to see everyone. This can be exhausting. Pick one or two places you truly desire to be. It's part of setting healthy limits and keeping a reasonable schedule.
 
Make a Budget and Stick by It
The holidays are a time of gift giving. This can be a lot of fun. It can also be financially stressful. Make a budget and stick with it. Ask people to make a prioritized wish list. Pare down your list. You're not obligated to get something for everyone.
 
Limit Your Shopping Destinations
Make your shopping list conform to an easy schedule. One person I know spent his entire gift budget at a book store. He bought books, cards, calendars, decorative items, journals, CDs, DVDs, lots of stuff.
 
Shop On Line
Point, click and all your gifts are delivered to your home, neatly wrapped. And it's a great way to send gifts to loved ones far away. You get to avoid the crowds and long lines at the post office, and you don't even have to leave your desk.
 
Keep it Simple
Even a small gift lets people know you cherish them. Bigger is not necessarily better.
 
Get Creative
Make gifts, instead of buying. One year, I made loaves of sweet breads and batches of cookies, and delivered them to friends for the holidays. It was fun, easy and inexpensive. 
 
Take Care of Yourself
Stick with healthy eating choices. Moderation is the key, especially with sweets and alcohol. You don't have to eat or drink anything you don't want, even if Aunt Martha made her special fruit cake (or maybe Aunt Martha is a special fruit cake). Drink plenty of water to remain hydrated. And you'll get a full feeling too.
 
Take Time for Yourself
Consider it a holiday gift you give to yourself. Take a break from the rushing around, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning. Take time out to re-read your favorite book, rent your favorite movie, take a nap.
 
Enjoy Family
Some people find extended family time to be stressful. Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. Take a break from the gathering. Go for a walk. Call someone you really enjoy talking to. Take some alone time if you need it.
 
Don't Forget Routine Maintenance
Get plenty of sleep. Eat regularly. Exercise. Get a massage. Meditate. Don't forget to breathe.