Holiday survival tips

It's happened again. You skied and napped your way through late winter. You tilted your head back and drank in the first sweet breathes of Spring, you biked and hiked the summer away. Recently you looked around and realized that fall had descended, on the wings of golf ball sized hail no less. So here we are, entering another holiday season with all it's blessings and madness. For most of us this time of year is a mixed bag. We get to see family that we might only see once a year. We have an excuse to shower gifts and affection on those we love. For a brief time there is an increased spirit of acceptance and appreciation.

It's not all sugar plums and eggnog though. It can be stressful. It can be depressing. We may feel pressured to do more than we comfortably can. Our gifts may feel inadequate. We may be missing loved ones that we have lost.

How do we stay in the positive flow of these times, without getting lost in the depths of the darker side?

Here's a couple tips:

1) Know what not to compromise. Often over the holidays our normal routines get pushed aside to make others who may be visiting feel more comfortable. We may forgo our morning walk to make sure the coffee is brewing on time. The food we prepare may be richer or sweeter than we normally ingest. We might be drinking more alcohol than on just any other Tuesday night. (and who could blame you?) All these things can throw your body off, and that in turn can contribute to emotional upset as well.

Know what you need to stay on course physically and emotionally, and don't compromise on it. Your family and friends will understand.

2) Take time for yourself. It can be tempting to make sure you spend as much time as possible with out of town guests. After all, you don't see them very often and soon they will be gone again. Keep in mind that you may be much better company if you preserve some time to yourself, especially if you are used to having alone time during the day. Even a solo trip to the store to pick up a forgotten item can be refreshing, and you will be better company, and more appreciative of your guests, when you return.

3) Go easy on the gifts. In some families, and with some friends, there can be tremendous pressure to give expensive gifts. Don't buy into it, pun very much intended. Do you remember what you received for holiday gifts last year? Maybe one or two stand out, but maybe not even that many. Personally, I love Thanksgiving because the focus is on good food and company, my favorite things. But no matter what your religious or social persuasion, sooner or later between Thanksgiving and New years, the gift giving will happen. Maybe a few less pre-made gifts this year could help you be less stressed. Perhaps spending a portion of that money on an activity or some special food items would be more memorable and less costly. Here's another idea: My wife comes from a large extended family and each year they do a Secret Santa ritual where everyone chooses one name from a hat and that is the only person that person purchases a gift for. Everyone gets a gift and no one feels overwhelmed or insecure about the gift giving experience. I love this.

4) Get outside. We live in one of the greatest outdoor playgrounds in the world. Even if you don't have a house full of Olympic skiers, it's a good idea to get everyone out of the house, even if it's only for a quick walk. It clears your head, breaks the routine, and helps you move some of that fruitcake.

Keeping some of these things in mind can help your holiday season to be a little more pleasurable, and a little less stressful.