Holiday Survival Guide: 17 Tips to Save Your Sanity

How to cope with holiday stress, dessert temptations, fashion dilemmas, and gift-giving overload.
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5 Ways to Soothe Your Spirit


You love the holidays -- the excitement in the air, the fresh scent of evergreen, promises of delicious food, and the hustle and bustle. The holidays often start out this way. You feel warm and gushy inside, and a rush of goodwill toward others. But soon your to-do list seems endless. Your budget is shrinking, and time is running out. By the time the actual holiday gets here, you're fresh out of goodwill and cheer.

It's tough to hold on to a merry mood when stress elbows its way into the activities. This year, vow to beat the stress before it beats you.

1. Time Is the Best Gift

This year, put "quality time" at the top of your to-do list: quality time with your family, friends, neighbors, and special coworkers. Just taking a quiet moment to tell someone how important they are to you can mean so much more than any gift. Consider organizing a casual potluck for your friends and neighbors -- each can bring their favorite holiday dish, and perhaps you can spread the spirit by caroling after the meal. If entertaining stresses you out, get together for lunch at your favorite diner or coffee shop. And whether you've got teens or toddlers, a family movie night is a relaxing way to spend time together.

 
2. Keep It Simple

Probably the No. 1 reason for out-of-control stress is trying to overdo it. If you're planning your own shindig, or sorting out gifts for your extended family, don't feel obligated to make it to every single party, or buy for the whole office. Try our quiz to see if you're in danger of overdoing it.

 
3. Forget Perfect

Does your daydream holiday feature you as the ideal, apron-clad hostess presiding over a magazine-style home? Forget it. Trying to attain perfection could be a recipe for disaster. Better to focus on friends and family, and leave the super-hostess mantle to the professionals.

If you're dedicated to throwing the best party ever, then plan ahead. Decorate the weekend before. Plan a simple menu so you're not slaving in the kitchen while your guests are enjoying the party. Ask your guests to bring appetizers so you can focus on the main course. But ultimately, remember that the best parties happen when the hostess has fun, too.

4. Give Yourself a Gift

It's fun to give to others, but in doing so we often forget to treat ourselves. So go ahead and splurge on that sexy red sweater you've been eyeing. Schedule a 30-minute massage. Bake that chocolate cake you've been craving. (You could share the leftovers with your coworkers!) Or plan a quiet evening at home with a special someone and just the lights of the Christmas tree to keep you company.

5. Get in Touch with Your Spiritual Side

Whether you're religious or not, the holidays can be a time for giving thanks, and for taking stock of our lives and the larger world around us. Many people find themselves drawn back to church at this time of year. The ritual of the ceremony and the quiet moments of prayer can be soothing, and even humbling; a reminder of the spirit of the season. But if you don't wish to attend an organized religious event, meditation can be an outlet for your psyche. No matter what you decide to do, set aside some time for reflection.

 
Continued on page 2:  4 Easy Eating Strategies

 

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