8 Tips for More Joy, Less Stress
More Sanity Savers
3. Savor a Silent Night Christmas Past: Sleigh bells ring, were you listening? You'd have loved to, but you couldn't hear over the Chipmunks blasting in the mall, the cars honking over parking spaces, and announcers yelling on TV and radio commercials. Whatever happened to heavenly peace?
Christmas Present: Treat yourself to a noise-free night. Richardson suggests turning off the TV, computer, and ringer on the phone and just sitting by the tree, the menorah, or the fire with your husband and kids. Inhale the scent of fir or baking cookies, and gaze at the flickering lights or flames for a while. Even squirmy kids love to lie under the tree, and they'll learn firsthand that lovely holiday times can occur without a high-volume soundtrack.
4. Don't Shop Till You Drop Christmas Past: Year in and year out, selecting and buying gifts has required your all: that is, your parents already have it all, your kids want it all, and your best friends and spouse deserve it all. Not to mention that your holiday credit-card balances stuck around into swimsuit season.
Christmas Present: Place a limit on the number of people you're giving to and the amount you're spending on them, and both your psyche and savings will benefit. In a study last year in the Journal of Happiness Studies, Tim Kasser, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, surveyed 117 people about their holidays and examined the factors associated with the most satisfaction and feelings of well-being. One finding: People who had more family and religious experiences at Christmas reported greater happiness, while those who spent more money buying gifts and even those who received more gifts were more stressed and less happy.
Eight years ago, Richardson and her six brothers and sisters decided to keep buying individual gifts for their parents but to draw names from a bowl at Thanksgiving so each would have one additional sibling or in-law to give to (the nieces and nephews did the same). At first, she recalls, "My siblings and I felt guilty about not getting each other something. We were uncomfortable arriving with just one bag." They got over the guilt quickly, however, when they realized how much they gained in time and energy for each other.
5. Remind Your Kids of the Reason for the Season Christmas Past: Angels most of the year, your kids were transformed into grabby, selfish little urchins as soon as the tinsel and holly went up.
Christmas Present: First, be clear about the messages that you're sending your children. If you're warning them in March that they better be good or else Santa will bring them coal, no wonder they get confused in December when you lecture them about the true meaning of the holidays. Then, if your kids are throwing their presents aside as soon as they open them on the big day to move on to the next item, "it's a sign they're getting too many things," says Dr. Cohen. He advises fewer gifts and slowing down. Also, explain to your children the importance of showing gratitude. Dr. Cohen says that a 3- or 4-year-old is mature enough to help you decorate a thank-you card, or say what you should write in it.
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