5 tips for enjoying more and stressing less!

1. Don’t “Should” On Yourself (or Let Others “Should” On You): Deciding upfront to let go of the idea that your holiday will ever be postcard-perfect will free you up to enjoy it for all that it is, and for all that it isn’t! Drop all the “shoulds” and unrealistic expectations that only create stress, conflict and resentment – “we should all get along,” “the table should be decorated Martha Stewart style”, “we should all have fun,” “everyone should come home for the holidays”, “we should all give thoughtful gifts,” and the list goes on. It’s our attachment to how things should be that causes the bulk of our holiday stress and upheavals. If you let go needing to have things a certain way, it allows you to enjoy things just as they are.

2. Create New Traditions (& Turf Out Old Tired Ones): Be careful that you aren’t being a slave to tradition. Sometimes, traditions outgrow themselves. Just because “that’s how we’ve always done it” doesn’t mean you still should. Start a new tradition or, just for this year, break with the old one. We’re cooking beef tenderloin for our holiday dinner this year. Not because we don’t like our turkey tradition, but just because it’s quicker and easier to prepare and that suits us better this year. No right or wrong about parting way with tradition… even if just for a year.

3. Think Outside the (Gift) Box: The best presents are never the most expensive but the most thoughtful. Give someone a voucher for a massage, breakfast in bed or a night out at the movies and drinks afterward. And of course, spend wisely-you aren’t being generous spending money on others if you can’t afford it.

4. Express Gratitude More Generously: Like a sweet treat, expressing gratitude or just paying a compliment has a have a way of immediately lifting others’ spirits by bringing a smile to their face. Just think about whose day you brighten by taking a moment to appreciate today. Pick up the phone, send them a card, flick them an email… it takes only a little time in your day to give it, but it can make a profound difference to the person receiving it.

5. Lighten Up, Laugh (at Yourself first), and Have Fun!: Make sure that in between working your way through your to-do list you make time for fun. Don your playful hat and look for simple ways to have fun, at work and home. Hold silly contests like who has the most unfashionable holiday apparel. Play your golden oldies CDs at breakfast… or in the office.

I know it’s a cliche, but don’t forget the “reason for the season.” It’s ultimately not about how many parties you attend, the presents you get, the presence you give or even, yes, the food that you eat. It’s about the quality of your presence for those around you-your ability to enjoy this special time of year. So my holiday wish for you as you read this is now is for a holidays eason brimming with gratitude for all that you have, for all that you are, and for all the people in your life. . . even the ones who press your buttons.

By Margie Warrell, Best Selling Author of Find Your Courage, published in Forbes, December 2011

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