Do you strive to reduce holiday stress?

Is the holiday season making you stressed? Has Christmas shopping wrapped you up in anxiety? Is the family driving you nuts?

If you want to reduce holiday stress, you are not alone. On the outside, Christmas is obviously a time of celebration, giving and togetherness. On the inside, however, the way people really feel does not always match the alleged Holiday cheer. So, what can be done about this pervasive stress? Cancel Christmas? Abolish shopping? No certainly not.

You have to learn to stay centered in the midst of chaos. You have to learn to focus on what is deeply important, despite that fact that everyone is running around in a frenzy. You have to learn to find a little "slowness" in the "fastness."

This can be done. You do it by finding the deeper meaning in every interaction, every gift exchange, and every glance into the eyes of a clerk. Take the time to make every moment about giving and about receiving, instead of just building it up for the big day in the future.

Keep your focus on what you are doing now, not how others will react in the future. If you find your mind wandering to the past or to the future, gently tug it back inward. Say: "Come back here mind! You don't need to wander aimlessly!" Christmas is an attitude; it is not a day.

One of the most fun-enhancing attitudes is this: Learn to give more of yourself as you give someone a gift. This means giving with joy and with feeling. It means taking to heart how special this person is in your life. It means giving more importance to the relationship than to the gift. You make Christmas special by making your relationships special. As you give, remember the other person's specialness in your life. This will help reduce holiday stress!

Likewise, remember to make your self feel special also. This is not arrogance; this is just acknowledging who you are. You are a cool and hip individual, correct? Notice your good qualities as much as possible. Slow down, at least momentarily from time to time during all the chaos of Christmas to feel how important you are. That is how you give to yourself.

Giving to yourself is a stress reducer. When someone gives you a gift, as you receive it, find a way to give more of yourself to yourself. This means giving your self the sentiment of the Holiday cheer, and remembering that you deserve it all. You really do deserve it.

The stress of the holiday season comes from being caught in the things that matter the least. Focus on what matters most and you will make this the best Christmas ever.

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