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5 Simple Secrets to Low Stress Holidays
By Lisa Rickwood

If you dread the impending holiday season (extra shopping, errands, money spentÖ) then youíre probably an overburdened, working person balancing a million things on your plate. This time of year can stress out even the most Zen-like person.

The holidays should be a time of connection with friends and family and a time to relax, rest and reflect on the past year. Instead, itís often a time of rushing, spending, agonizing, shopping and over-indulging.

You may not be able to eliminate all your stress, but you can master it when you learn five simple secrets to low stress holidays.

First Secret: Do a little planning. Decide when to have a holiday party, how much to budget for gifts, how many people to buy for and if you're sending out cards or corporate gifts. Take an afternoon and record your intentions.

We often begin this intention but lose focus three-quarters of the way through the season. Make it a point to stick to your objectives. If your budget is tight, donít overspend; the people receiving your gift will know youíre stressed and they donít want to be a part of that.

Second Secret: Simplify what you just wrote. Yes, that's right - eliminate something that's not urgent. Maybe you don't need to send out cards this year - a phone call or email may suffice. Decide what can be trimmed from your plan. One year I didnít send out cards and guess what, the world didnít end. In fact, no one mentioned that they didnít get cards.

Third Secret: Eliminate perfection. I'm not sure who decided our Christmases have to be like the Norman Rockwell paintings. I donít know one family who has a perfect family life Ė we all have funny or stressful members in our clan. The trick is to accept this and move on; just try to enjoy what we can in a family or group situation.

When we set out to buy presents, stop trying to make everything perfect and just aim for 'good enough.' This is very liberating when buying gifts; instead of running from store to store trying to find the Ďperfectí gift, grab the first item that seems 'okay.'

Fourth Secret: Connect with people. We all know this and do this by working harder, attending parties and socials, but really listen to what others are saying instead of thinking about what 'must get done.' Get to know people, ask questions and be of service. Enjoy the moment - it goes by too quickly.

Those with growing small children know all too well about the passing of time. Life goes by so fast that by the time you slow down enough to enjoy it, the season is over and youíve got the memory on your digital camera.

Fifth Secret: Escape. What does this mean? Take some escape time for yourself; if you work with people all the time, this will be the most important activity you practice.

I work in retail and offer business coaching and although I love my work, there are days when a brisk walk outdoors or good movie and no interruptions would be heaven.

If your idea of escaping is taking a holiday, visiting the spa, playing racquetball, lifting weights or watching a movie, honor yourself by doing it every day. You donít need a day or afternoon - even 20 minutes doing something fun helps you as youíre less inclined to be rude, get aggressive or end up sick. This secret is practiced by all successful people; they know how to recharge so they get in the zone and optimize their energy.

If you practice these five secrets, your holidays will be happier, healthier and more prosperous.

Lisa Rickwood, BFA, Professional Coach, is an accomplished visual artist, retailer, and business coach. She helps small business owners and entrepreneurs master stress to enjoy professional and personal success. Lisa is author of, Escape The Pace. Get her FREE REPORT on mastering stress in business and life at:

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