Plan of Action for the Holidays

Knowing that the holidays are a tough time does not make them easier, but perhaps it will help us if we understand and accept our reactions; while planning ways to help ourselves cope. Here is a sample plan:

Pace yourself. Adding decorating, entertaining, gift buying and baking to an already busy schedule is asking for exhaustion and disappointment.

Let others help you. As the holiday approaches, share your concerns, feelings and apprehensions with a relative or friend. Tell them that this is a difficult time for you. You will appreciate their love and concern.

Allow time for memories. Holidays stir up thoughts of people and places long distant. Approach this with a positive attitude and plan tributes to deceased loved ones.

New traditions can be started. Intentionally set out to form new patterns. Do things you always wanted to do, but didn't.

Organize yourself with a "to do" and a "to don't" list. Get in touch with your needs. Pass up tasks that don't feel right this year.

Forget being the Perfect Family. Any problem currently going on will intensify under the stress of the season. Distant relatives may bring more than packages when they visit. Anticipate problem areas and prepare accordingly.

Accept your physical limits. Get enough sleep. Holiday feasting can be treacherous, so get in some moderate meals that are healthy for you.

Cancel the commercialism. The message to buy has to be tempered with realism. Let someone else do the shopping if it is too much for you. Consider shopping online or through a catalog.

Tis the season to feel what you feel. If you don't feel jolly, don't punish yourself for it! The calendar can't mandate our emotions, especially at a time when your life is not on an even keel. Don't feel guilty for feeling good!

Isolation dampens the spirit. Solitude is restorative, but make plans to be with friends or volunteer your time through community service.

Overdoing has its own "balloon payments". Avoid overeating, over-drinking, overindulgence, over-stimulation and over-scheduling.

Nonsense is nourishing! Go to a funny movie or rent a DVD. Play parlor games. Tell jokes and don't be afraid to laugh. Be with people who know how to enjoy life.