How would you describe your anticipation of the holiday season?  Are you filled with excitement?  Or dread.  Here are 5 tips to help you through the stress and put the joy back in your holiday season.

1. Focus on the Reason for the Season

Amidst the hustle and bustle of gift-buying and holiday party preparation, take a moment to stop and get back to the roots of your particular holiday.  What were you supposed to be celebrating before all of the commercialization set in?  If you have a background in a particular faith, it may lift your spirits to take a visit to your church or temple and remind yourself of the joy and wonder beyond the physical plane.  Or else focus on family and community this holiday season.  Re-connect with friends and family by being there for others.  Many people just need a good listener as they reflect on the past year.  Be ready for them with open ears, an open heart, and a loving smile.

2. Remember What You’re Grateful For

It’s so easy to get stressed as you’re buying those last-minute gifts and fighting through traffic among all of the other crazed holiday shoppers.  Or maybe this is not the holiday you wanted it to be because you’ve lost someone special or have weathered some big challenges this year.  Honor your feelings and then put your attention on what you’re grateful for this year.  Who do you have in your life that brings a smile to your heart?  What have you learned from this year’s challenges? (Think of how much stronger you’ve become!)  How have you grown this year?  Do you have a roof over your head and food in your fridge?  Every time you wake up to face another day is another opportunity to find the beauty and the growth in this miracle of living.

3. Play Some Holiday Favorites (Movies/Music)

My absolute favorite part of the holiday season is watching some of my favorite holiday movies.  At the top of the list is It’s a Wonderful Life, a movie that really puts life in perspective and leaves me a big, warm and fuzzy, sloppy-teared mess.  Some of my other favorites include Love Actually, White Christmas, A Christmas Carol, and some of the old children’s classics: Frosty, Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown Christmas.  If you love music, how about some holiday tunes?  This year I’ve caught myself singing and humming Christmas carols, and I insist on “Traditional” holiday songs when I search the radio or internet stations.  Some of my favorite’s include Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, and Burl Ive’s “Holly, Jolly Christmas” — songs my dad has always played for Christmas.

4. Volunteer/Donate

Nothing lifts the spirits and opens the heart more than giving to others.  Help someone else have a beautiful holiday by donating to a cause like Toys for Tots or Operation Christmas.  This is also a great opportunity to volunteer at a shelter or nursing home, bringing love to those who need it most.  If you are open to it, you will receive a greater gift than anything that comes out of a box.

5. Take a Little Time for You

Have you noticed that a lot of people get sick around the holiday season?  Often it’s the body’s way of telling you to slow down.  Schedule some time for yourself.  You will be no good to your family and friends if you’re a weak, sniffling, hoarse-throated mess!  Make sure you get plenty of rest and treat yourself to something special this holiday season.  Maybe it’s a little alone time with some hot chocolate and your favorite book or holiday movie.  My dad likes to turn off all the the lights in the house except those on the Christmas tree and sit in his easy chair as he listens to some of his favorite Christmas songs.  If you give yourself some time to recharge, you will have more of you to give to those you love and will have a much more pleasant time at those holiday gatherings.

I hope your holidays are particularly happy this year!