Holidays can be stressful. This year, try these three tips to ease the pressure and find great joy for a lifetime of beautiful memories. 

1. Trigger a new response to an old experience. Do you have negative memories associated with the holidays? Those patterns that are set up during our childhood are difficult to release as an adult. Whatever happened to cause this long-term reaction, though may have hurt very much at the time, is over. Now it is not real. It does not physically exist anywhere, not your head, heart or belly. It is merely a story, with self-added value, drama, and victimization. You have the power to reframe, re-story, and create new meaning. If the holidays make you miserable, what would make you happy? Volunteer to help those in need. Helping makes the volunteer feel just as good as the person being helped. Spontaneously approach the holidays as a sociology experiment for your own pleasure. Create your own traditions. You are responsible for your happiness.  

2. Ask yourself what is the motivation in the gift you are giving? There is nothing wrong with gift giving. Too many people feel the need to go crazy shopping and drive themselves into debt or an emotional panic to find just the right thing. Before you buy the gift, ask yourself what your true motivation is for giving the gift. Is it to express love and adoration? Is it to receive love and adoration? Is there a better way to express it? Perhaps there is a way that will help others, too? Why not try making your gifts or writing a heartfelt letter telling the recipient how much they mean to you? If giving the gift is just for your emotional gain, how can you show yourself love and adoration without spending a dime? What a gift that would be! 

3. Eat, drink and be merry…responsibly. Whatever ingested that tips the scales out of balance will have to be addressed through exercise or diet. If you know you are going to a party where there will be temptation for overindulgence of any kind, make sure to get a workout in early and push just a little harder, drink more water than you normally would, eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to provide the nutrients and fiber needed to keep the system in working order.  For those who imbibe in cocktails, chase them with a glass of water or seltzer water with a splash of juice and end the night with a big glass of water. Increase the intake of dandelion and (bitter) leafy greens, ginger, chamomile, cinnamon, and fennel to help ease hangovers. A balanced body during the holidays also means rest. You may have to say no to something in order to get the rest you need to keep going.  

4. Celebrate, honor, send gratitude and love. You have made it to the twelfth month of the year, which deserves some respectful quiet, reflective, and introspective time. Look back at all you survived and enjoyed this year. Grieve the losses. Celebrate the successes. Send gratitude and love to it all because those are all a piece of our emotional and spiritual growth.  

We must take a few moments to remember that 2011 did not see an end to both wars. We must remember the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, along with those who continue to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom, far from their families and friends this holiday season. Raise a toast and send some love (and maybe a care package). 

Take a moment to look ahead. What do you want? What do you need? What steps will you take to make it happen? Now, let go of attachment to the outcome. Stay present. Breathe. Be joyful. It is your choice, after all.


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