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Time, money, personal relationships, the job, shopping, aging parents or relatives, family gatherings, under employment & unemployment affecting you or someone you know.  Stress during the holidays this year is inevitable!

Family Gatherings. Let’s face can be stressful!  Holidays we spend more intense time together and stress  is inevitable.  Here is what you can do. Have a plan to transform potentially harmful reactions to’ situations’ into healthy responses. Re-think how you Think. Some situations are predictable.  Prepare a response—or non response! When a relative makes a negative or even stupid comment, do what I call ‘mind-shifting’. You know the reality of the ‘situation’. Don't over react. Consider if your initial reaction to this person was an automatic negative thoughts (ANT)  based on old ideas or roles. Consider the gift of Forgiveness. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Set a goal to repair broken relationships this holiday season. Families change and grow as do traditions. Be open to your idea of ‘roles’ of various people in your family…including yours.

Money. This may be a good year to enjoy what you have- and— decide on limits for spending for more.  Establish a budget and stick to it. Reach a consensus with people on you ‘lists’ on the ‘value’ of not overspending, i.e. peace of mind, spring vacation, a dent in credit card debt, college fund, or more basic-paying the mortgage or rent! And don't forget, there are two ways to be ‘wealthy’; have more or want less.

Time.  The holidays are about having  time & energy to enjoy your family, the lights and sounds of the season. Eliminate some things on your holiday ‘to do’ list.  Eliminate the word ‘must’. Instead think in terms of what you ‘prefer’ to do.  Buy online. Get a pre-lit tree. Buy some of your holiday meals. Recognize and accept that they’re only 24 hours a day. If your mind is constantly telling you that you’re running out of time as you are rushing around—- you will in fact run out of the ultimate time and end up in an ER!  Schedule sleep— at least seven hours. This will help with your resilience. You will get more out of your day.  Delegate and get everybody involved in the work of preparing for the holidays. The kids can do small things.  Remember to put aside perfect. Avoid overload by simply not using the words should or must. Approach playing and the holidays themselves by describing what you prefer. It’s okay to stick to a schedule but be as flexible as possible.Finally practice saying "no".

ReSetting Your Holiday Spirit.  If this is the first holiday season after a breakup, death, divorce—or- if this the anniversary of a loss make a plan.  Recognize that it will be normal to have some periods of profound sadness.  Acknowledge your feelings. If you have a history of clinical depression or are not able to have periods of normalcy, then seek the help of a professional.  Spend time alone if you need to. Don't over commit to attend parties or gatherings.  If you are a writer—keep a journal of your feelings.  If you can be paid overtime this may be the year to step-up, earn extra money and work on the holiday. A true trusted friend is Priceless.  Identify at least one person you can share true feelings and needs. Be sure its someone who ‘gets you’ and really cares.   Reach out for support when you need it.  And don't forget about forgiveness—

Self-Care. Give your self the gift by a commitment to self-care during the season and into 2010: emotional and physical.  Self-care is at the core of handling the stress in your life. A realistic plan that can work with your life responsibilities. Keep it simple. Goal can include; sleeping at least 7 hours a night, eliminating toxic foods from your diet, walking at least 30 minutes at a brisk pace at least 5 days a week. This is not going to just happen. 

Hard Times. This has been a challenging year for so many.  If you are going through a hard time....Learn from it. Don't ignore the negatives-but try to find something positive. Give yourself the gift of developing your personal recovery plan. Think long and short term. Do you need to retrain? Get out there and volunteer. You may have some tough decisions to make. Go for it!  And have a back up plan. We all know now to expect the unexpected.  Be open to give and receive with those who have more or less than you. Don't be embarrassed. Reach out and ask for help if you need it. Check out private and public resources. Then give back. One of the best gifts is to give time to someone older in your family or religious community if you belong to one.  Listen and let them reminisce. If you know someone who is ill—visit and sit with them.  Just be there.

Moderation. In general during the holidays we make an abrupt change in our pattern of eating drinking exercising working and travel. Overindulgence in your intake of food, salt, fat, and alcohol can all lead to triggering of a cardiac event if you have risks for cardiac disease.  More people die of coronary disease on Christmas Day and New Years Day than any other day of the year.  Moderation can make a difference. Alcohol has a direct toxic affect on the heart. Alcohols can trigger atrial fibrillation. Heavy fatty meals may make the blood more likely to clot, and change responsiveness of your blood vessels. According to some researchers, meals high in carbohydrates can increase in your heart rate and the release of catecholamines.

Safety. This is the time when teenagers and young adults come home. Do your part to keep them from being a statistic.  Start the dialogue now. You must have agreements about; checking in, curfew, drinking, driving. Be firm and realistic.  Keep the lines of communication open. If you don't need to learn. May be the best way to stay in touch...even at 2am.

Relax. True Relaxation is a mind and body state that is the opposite of the stress state. Relaxation is a natural and innate protective mechanism each of us possesses. Relaxation involves learning a simple set of skills that produce a very specific biologic response –the relaxation response. Combined with specific ‘mind-shifting‘ techniques, I call this experience a PowerPause.   The relaxation response which was discovered when Dr. Herbert Benson, then the director of the hypertension section of Boston's Beth Israel Hospital studied the physical and mental effects of a variety of methods of evoking a calm state, including yoga and several forms of meditation.  The PowerPause triggers the release of anti-stress hormones, decreases your heart rate, and lowers your metabolic rate and your rate of breathing right at your desk!

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