From Panama Jack — November 13, 2014 at 5:00 am

How to Have the Happiest of Holiday Seasons

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©istockphoto/deliormanli

©istockphoto/deliormanli

With all the joy of the holiday season can come an equal amount of spirit-crushing stress. Looming deadlines, places to be, things to buy…it’s hard to keep it all together, never mind do it with a season-worthy smile. Luckily, most (if not all) of your seasonal stressors can be quashed with just a few helpful tips. Creating a master plan, dividing and conquering, prioritizing, learning to how to say no and most of all, taking care of yourself all come into play with the promise of making this festive time of year the best one yet.

Prioritize
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season. Party invitations, work and school functions, bake sales, charity work, and all sorts of other opportunities for commitments pop up that are difficult to refuse. While it’s great to get out there and do what makes you happy, it’s also important to avoid the dreaded holiday season burnout. Stretching yourself too thin is a surefire way to ensure that you don’t enjoy any of the activities that you take on which defeats the whole purpose. Make a list of ‘must-dos’ and then take a pass on the extras.

Delegate
Sure, you organize your annual work party AND host your family dinner every year but do you actually enjoy it? It can be hard to relinquish control of traditions that you’ve grown accustomed to but often, taking some times to delegate some of your responsibilities to others can be a welcome breath of fresh air. If you absolutely have to have the extended family for turkey at your house, why not ask some of the guests to bring along their favorite side dish? Ask your aunt to prepare her famous pie, call on your mixologist cousin to tend the bar, and feel the stress melt away as you have more time to properly focus on what’s important to you.

Make a List
Even the most daunting tasks can begin to feel more manageable when you can see them written out in front of you. Take a moment to sit down and draft up a list of everything that you need to get done. Include everything- no task is too small. As you make progress, check each item off the list. Even if it’s just something as simple as picking up stamps, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and will likely be motivated to keep going.

Stay Healthy
It seems so obvious but you can’t expect to enjoy the season if you’re feeling under the weather. As schedules fill up and you find yourself in heavily populated areas like shopping malls and grocery stores, your immune system may have a hard time battling all those germs if you’re not in fighting shape. Try to supplement some of those holiday cookies with fruits and vegetables. A green smoothie in the morning can be a great way to ensure that you’re getting what you need. Drink as much water as your body asks for throughout the day and make sure that you’re washing your hands regularly. It’s also important to get plenty of sleep, as difficult as that may be.

Take Some Personal Time
Whether you get the most pleasure from reading a book, taking a sweaty yoga class, going on a long walk, or just zoning out in front of the television, it’s important that you carve out some time to spend a little one on one time with yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle this time of year and sometimes a little quiet time is just what the doctor ordered. Make your well-being a priority, otherwise you won’t be able to be there for others (think of the classic air mask on an airplane analogy). A relaxed you is a happy you.

Enjoy
This time of year can truly be magical. Whether or not you participate in specific traditions or subscribe to a particular set of beliefs, the holiday season is a great opportunity to stop and enjoy the little things in life. Whether it’s the excitement of a kid getting keyed up for vacation, the thoughtful gestures of a friend, or the effort that someone went to in order to make things a little more special, there’s a lot to be gained from taking a moment to appreciate it all. Practice mindfulness by living in the moment and gratitude by taking note of the positive and get ready to see things in a whole new light.

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