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The holiday season doesn’t have to cause anxiety, stress, chaos and high credit card balances. Chose to make your holidays more enjoyable and stress-free by following some of these tips:

  1. What’s Important to Me? Decide what the holidays really mean to you. How do I want to spend my time, money and energy? How can I bring more joy to this season?

  2. Change the Focus from Gifts to Relationships. Spend time with family and friends doing enjoyable activities. Give a gift of time and attention to others by working at a homeless shelter or running a food or toy drive.

  3. Start Early, Plan Well, and Take Care of Yourself. Simplify as much as possible. Plan ahead. Replenish your natural energy by taking care of your body. Eat right, exercise, drink plenty of water and sleep.

  4. Keep a "Joy Journal" this holiday season, in which you record the funny things your kids say, joyful times you share, your favorite things to do with your family (and by yourself), and all the things for which you are grateful.

  5. Practice Conscious Breathing Exercises ten minutes a day. This will keep you calm and relaxed through the end of the year. Any time you feel overwhelmed or stressed, taking a few deep breaths will help you separate mentally and emotionally from the stresses.

  6. Start New Traditions. Go out for holiday dinners or pick-up take-out, exchange books, play games, ask for help and plan potlucks.

  7. Schedule Some Time in your Appointment Book to be Alone. When you consciously plan to have alone time, it keeps you empowered and reduces possible feelings of melancholy during the holiday season. Get a manicure, go for a drive or read a book.

  8. Get Support. Call, visit or walk with a friend.

  9. Breathe Deeply. To breathe deeply, begin by putting your hand on your abdomen just below the navel. Inhale slowly through your nose and watch your hand move out as your belly expands. Hold the breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly. Repeat several times.

  10. Visualize a Peaceful Place. Close your eyes, take three long, slow breaths, and spend a few seconds picturing a relaxing scene, such as walking in a meadow, kneeling by a brook, or lying on the beach. Focus on the details -- the sights, the sounds, the smells. Go to this place in your mind when you feel overwhelmed. Draw or paint your place as a visual memory.

  11. Eat Balanced Meals and Exercise. Make healthy food choices. Schedule exercise as an appointment 30-45 min, 4-5 times/week. Regular exercise helps boast endorphins and serotonin, energy levels, self-esteem and increases your ability to handle stress.

  12. Make Afiirmations. Create brief, positive statements that focus on your coping abilities. Affirmations are a good way to silence the self-critical voice we all carry with us that only adds to our stress, repeat 10 times, "I’m OK”, “I can handle this”, “I am worthy”. Post affirmations around you-on computer, bathroom mirror and refrigerator.

  13. Put It in Writing. Writing provides perspective, helps define goals and documents growth. On one side of the paper, list the stressors you may be able to change, and on the other side, list the ones you can't change and focus on the changes you can make and let the others go.

  14. Count to 10. Before you say or do something you'll regret, give yourself time to ensure this is your choice by thinking before speaking. It’s OK to say “no”, set limits and please yourself instead of others.

  15. Limit Caffeine. Caffeine can impact sleep by leaving you awake and alert which robs you of your ability to fight off anxiety and stress.

  16. Schedule Worry Time. Some stressors demand immediate attention, others can wait until it’s more convenient. As needed, schedule 15 minutes per day to think about worries, thereby giving you more control and power over your concerns. If a worry comes up during non-worry time, tell yourself that this will be dealt with at worry time later that day.

  17. Admit when Stressed. Each of us has uniquely individual stress signals -- neck or shoulder pain, shallow breathing, stammering, teeth gritting, queasiness, and loss of temper. Your body and mind need self-care-give it!

  18. Try Tea. Create a calming bedtime ritual with a cup of warm tea.

  19. Take a Bath. Soak in a tub to soothe sore muscles and tension. Light some candles and try some aromatherapy products.

  20. Pet your Pooch. Petting an animal for just a couple of minutes helps relieve stress, lowers blood pressure, and gives us unconditional love. Better yet, take your pet on a walk to benefit both of you.

  21. Practice Mindfulness. Heighten your awareness of the moment by focusing intently on an object. Notice a pencil's shape, color, weight and feel. Or slowly, savor a piece of chocolate. Mindfulness leads to relaxation. Be in the moment and focus on the present.

  22. Plan Fun. Looking forward to something provides a calming perspective. Schedule a weekend get-together, make an appointment for a massage or plan a date night.