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Bring the light into your life for the holidays

Rather than waiting for the big day of presents, or the day after Christmas when you can finally relax, give yourself gifts of joy right now -- of laughter, ease, pleasure and rest.

This the time of year when ideas about how to stay calm during the holiday season are nearly as common as reindeer and Christmas cookies.

Many of the ideas are suggestions that have been recycled through the years. However, here's a review, for me and for you:

Bring in lightness into your life. Find moments of joy, laughter and pleasure in each day. Rather than waiting for the big day of presents, or the day after Christmas when you can finally relax, give yourself these gifts right now, even in tiny doses, as often as you can.

So often we deny ourselves the simple pleasures of caring for our bodies -- a visit to the bathroom before the bladder is bursting, a drink of water, a good stretch after an hour at the computer -- in favor of soldiering on. Take some time to put lotion on your hands, to enjoy a warm cup of tea, to give a little massage to your neck or head.

Slow down and rest. Sleep late if you can, even just a couple of days. Close your eyes and breathe. Take your time and let your children take their time whenever possible. Trim your calendar to the events that revitalize you and give you joy. It's better to have a few activities rather than a hurried and pressured parent who's shepherding everyone from event to event.

Know your limits and kept it simple. Keep getting clear about what you are able to do and what you cannot do will clean obligations from your plate. Know what you can afford and what you cannot. Find a "budget buddy" and promise to remind each other when you are tempted to spend beyond your budget. Use the same "buddy" system if you are tempted to eat or too much or drink too much. Talk to family and friends to sort out your choices in unpleasant or pressured situations.

Practice gratitude and generosity.  Be grateful for what you have. If you have money to donate to good causes, donate generously. If you don't have extra money, give what you can and check your closets and cupboards and find gently used towels, blankets, coats, and office and school supplies or other items that can be donated to local homeless and animal shelters, school projects and other non-profit organizations. Here is one "wish list" from The Journal Times.

Let yourself receive help. The chores of the holidays can be eased and enjoyable when you give up the pattern of doing it by yourself. Let others help you decorate, or cook, or bake, or wrap presents so the activity becomes a time of visiting, sharing and cooperating.

Be in touch with people. Pick up the phone to call relatives and friends, especially you haven't been in contact lately and even if you can't get together. E-mail and Skype are options, as are the good old-fashioned letters and cards that can be read again. If you have few people in your life, consider volunteering your help and presence.

Make a plan to make next year's holiday season more easy, more fun, more meaningful.  his may mean purchasing and making gifts throughout the year, identifying what activities you would enjoy, putting aside savings, even a few dollars a week, and look for other good practices that you can borrow from others.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

patchreader 123 December 11, 2011 at 10:28 PM
Great advice. However, the photo you posted is a bit odd. Looks like "Santa" is trying to break into an office building by climbing down the drain pipe?
Karen Carnabucci December 12, 2011 at 12:18 AM
I liked the silly and funny aspect of it. We often take ourselves so seriously! Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment.
Dee M. December 12, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Thanks for all the good reminders Karen!

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