HolidaysThe holidays will only be as happy as you are; conversely they will be as unpleasant as you are stressed. So what to do? The countdown is on: only 7 days ’til Christmas, and there’s all that stuff to be done….

1. Put yourself at the top of your gift list.

This is the season of giving, but you can’t give meaningfully or effectively from an empty well. Avoid fast food, eat regularly, and take time to eat in a relaxed way. Indulgein fewer holiday sweets; the sugar can weaken your immune system and sap your energy. Try eating more fruit instead.

Stay with your exercise routine, or at least do not quit altogether. Even take a 10 minute walk away from the hustle and bustle. When your heart is pumping, you deliver more nutrients and oxygen to your brain! The result will be a less stressful holiday.

Get a massage. If you can’t spend the hour, look for one of those 10 minute massage chairs in a mall or store. It works wonders. Then back to enjoying your to-do list.

If this seems selfish, ask yourself, “If taking care of myself means something else won’t get done, does it mean I don’t care?” If you answer yes, then ask… “Why do I believe that?” “What might happen if I did not believe that?”

2. Review your to-do-list.

Are the things you plan to do expressing the meaning of Christmas and New Year’s that you hold dear?  Is there time for you to enjoy your favorite things? Is it doable in the time you have left? Do you have to do it all?

If you didn’t get another thing done, would that be all right? If not, why not? Are there any items that can be eliminated? Can you enlist the help of others? Would you want to be happy even though you didn’t get some of the last-minute things done?

3. Give to those in need.

Even though I just encouraged you to put yourself at the top of your gift list, giving is an opportunity to stay happy.

Of course, this season is usually over-the-top busy, but it is easy to find someone or a local organization that needs help.

Some friends and I spend  time (doesn’t have to be a lot) volunteering to make sure children in our community have a wonderful holiday. In the fulfillment of volunteering, the items on my “to do list” somehow become more enjoyable and gratifying.

If you can’t get out right now, you can make a difference in the lives of mothers and children in the Philippines suffering from the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda by donating to my friend and hero, Robin Lim, 2011 CNN Hero of the Year, at A Million Mothers or support a child in an orphanage in Nepal, ShantiChildrensFoundation, directed by one of my wonderful recent Italy Retreat graduates, Pam Whitworth.

You can also check in with a friend who may be alone, and give to her or him.

4. Be grateful for what you can do.

Each day, jot down something, even the smallest thing, that you are grateful for. It’s hard to be unhappy when you are being grateful.

A client of mine is enjoying her first Christmas holidays with family and friends in thirteen years. She cheerfully told me, “Burned cookies? Late Christmas cards? Long lines everywhere? I relish it all. I am free to give of myself, and no matter how great or small the gift, I choose to be happy doing it.”

I hope this helps bring happy back into your holidays.

May your holiday season bring you laughter, warmth, and peace in your heart. If it does not come to you, bring it to another.

Wishing you a blessed holiday season.

How do you keep your holidays happy? Make comments by clicking on the word “comments” under this post.

Learn more about traveling to Italy on Lenora’s Italy Retreats For Women
Find out more about Lenora’s Sweet Life Workshops and Sweet Life Happiness Coaching.

You are welcome to reprint, copy, or distribute Lenora Boyle’s article, provided author credit is included.