The holidays are just around the corner, and I don’t think it’s ever too early to remind yourself that you can shape the overall outcome of these days. Don’t you want to look back in early January and feel good about how you handled yourself? I do, so I’ll share some things that have benefited me.

Make it Work for You

          If you hate decorating, don’t. You can always appreciate the gala trees, bright lights and larger-than-life ornaments at Macy’s or cozier and homier decorations at friends’ homes. 

          If eating poorly during the holidays is a problem for you, compromise. Take it a day at a time and a party at a time and agree with yourself what you will and won’t consume. You don’t have to completely deprive yourself, but you don’t have to gain 10 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, like I’ve done before. 

          If you hate driving all over town to shop, don’t. Consider this year the beginning of your online foray into donations made in behalf of another or at least shopping and having the online retailer deliver the gifts directly to recipients.

2. Commit to No Distractions
          I do this one day a month all year ‘round but it’s particularly helpful during the hectic times of the holidays. On this day, I do my best to go completely without tech products: phone, computer, TV or any other electronic gadgets I falsely believe I can’t live without. Obviously, go for a non-work day when you can just relax, commune with nature, read an uplifting book or visit with family and friends.

3. Family – let it roll

          This is often the trickiest and most challenging factor during the holidays. My experience is that big gatherings don’t bring out the best in family members – there’s too much alcohol and too much past history to completely let go. So, what to do? I don’t have sure fire ways to deal with badly behaving family members, but what I do generally is just give up hope that things will be different and realize it’s just one or two days of the year. I also try to treat family like acquaintances that I would try to be polite to at the very least. Some people feel there is no solution to dealing with a dysfunctional family during the holidays, and they opt out entirely by spending their time by themselves, with spouses or friends. Remember, as harsh as it may sound, that IS an option.

4. Set Your Boundaries
          Way before the holidays, begin to clearly identify for yourself what you will and will not do. If you hate making that gooey, sugar-laden pecan pie that everyone else loves, be prepared to say “no.” If you hate over-extending your budget, just spend what you can — without explanation. If you hate sitting on your tush watching football after a huge feast, go for a walk or leave the party altogether. 

5. Breathe
          Don’t let anyone steal your pleasure during this joyous time of year. Remember you have choices about what you will and will not do.  Spend your time, money and energy on what you enjoy doing and … breathe.

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