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    Tips for a Stress Free Holiday
    By: Julie Hunt

    The holidays are officially here. And so the season for giving begins. Warm
    loving intentions, thoughtful giving and stocking stuffing take over.

    It's a wonderful time of year, but with all the activities, excitement and family
    obligations taking place at the same time,    it's easy to feel overwhelmed,
    stressed and even a tad bit gloomy.

    Here are 9 simple steps to relax, let go and really enjoy a truly
    happy holiday!

    1. Reflect on what an inspiration you are to others.

    The time you spend, the love you give and the enthusiasm with which you do it all with is what
    matters most to people close to you. The beautifully wrapped presents and bows are far less
    important than your loving friendship. You are appreciated and cherished in the lives of so
    many people. Love yourself with the same appreciation.

    2. Be honest with yourself and don't stuff your feelings.

    As you start to feel range of emotions this holiday... whether it is joy or fear... frustration or
    liberation... Don't push them away like last season's Prada bag. Give them a special place. It
    will be far easier to enjoy the holiday if you are honest with yourself and experience all the
    good, bad and normal parts of life. Be as accepting and generous with yourself as you are
    with the people in your life you care about the most.

    3. Show empathy and compassion.

    Our internal perception is reality. Whenever you show kind hearted compassion, you'll get it
    back in return.

    4. Be grateful for all the wonderful differences, preferences and opinions
    that you will encounter this holiday.

    Try to view life from a different perspective. Talk about differences that may come up in a
    loving way and make a special effort to sit on the same side of the table (literally and
    figuratively). See if you can find it in your heart to love and appreciate Uncle Joe's crazy quirk
    that normally sends you through the roof. The joy and peacefulness of understanding another's
    perspective while still honoring your own is a feeling to be savored!

    5. Get plenty of sleep and squeeze in a few extra minutes to rest and

    Sleep may seem like an indulgence this time of year, but it is absolutely essential to good
    health and a positive holiday outlook. Rest, slow-down and catch plenty of zzz's. Be decadent
    and treat yourself to 3 -5 minutes a day without any books, junk mail or return calls. Take time
    to breathe, relax, reflect and introspect. If you're feeling really sassy lie on your back and
    spread out in the middle of the living floor. Is 3 minutes of your day just for one month too much
    to ask?

    6. Try letting go and see what marvels happen!

    Let go of one small thing that's really been getting to you. Ask yourself what is the worst that
    can happen? Just for kicks, reflect back on a particularly stressful holiday situation last year.
    How bad was it really? Did worry consume you for nothing? I'm guessing that the turnout wasn't
    as bad as all the images swimming in your head. And, there may have even been a hidden
    blessing after all. In the scheme of things, our daily worries are trivial. Try to let them go... and
    go with the flow!

    7. Find opportunities throughout the day to bond and make a human

    Make a conscious and loving effort to be attentive and live in the present moment. A sure fire
    quick way to work yourself up is to let your mind run a million miles an hour of things you could,
    should or would be doing. These random relentless thoughts will just make you anxious and
    nervous. Take the time to look into peoples' eyes; listen carefully to what they have to say and
    pass them a compliment about something you know is important to them. That goes for
    strangers too! You will enjoy your time together that much more... and so will they.

    8. Change up the scenery.

    Rather than going through your same daily routine, shake it up a bit! Close your eyes at night
    before you drift off and sleepily anticipate a self indulgent wild and crazy day. Roll out of bed
    on the opposite side. Light a scented candle in the bathroom and watch the flame flicker in the
    morning light. Crank up your favorite piece of inspiring music before you do anything else in
    the morning. Walk backward through the house. Try tea instead of coffee. Call an old friend
    you haven't talked to in ages. Talk to strangers! Take the scenic route home. Wave to the
    stressed out folks who cut you off on the freeway. What else can you think of that could change
    up your scenery and shake some smiles out of you?

    9. Treat yourself as you would treat others.

    Write yourself a love note. Buy yourself fresh stems of flowers. Soak your feet. Valet park the
    car. Have your groceries delivered. Send your undies to the cleaners. Snuggle with a blankie.
    Take a long walk. Sleep in. Watch the sunset. Sing yourself a love song. Do all the things for
    yourself you'd love others to do for you!

    Enjoy the most fabulous holiday season of all times!

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