Holiday Stress: 10 Ways to Survive, and Enjoy, the Season

PHOTO: Liz Pryor shares her top ten tips to ease the holiday madness.
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And so it is here.

We all know what Thanksgiving really means. Besides a time to be thankful for what we have, Thanksgiving means the most insane time of the year is staring us straight in the eyes.

It means if we thought our lives were overcrowded, unmanageable and running at the speed of light last week, we can expect that to ramp up four-fold within the next four weeks.

So what can we do as we sit and face the inevitable? Here are my top ten tips to ease the holiday madness. While they may sound impossible at first, on second, third and fourth thought, they'll begin to settle in as items you can achieve.

1. Choose a different view. The first and most important idea is to decide right now, as you proceed into the tunnel of madness that lies ahead, to look at the next month from a different view. Yes, a different view. That means instead of imagining mass chaos, maxed-out credit cards, crowds of people, stress, overeating and exhaustion, decide to imagine what you remember as a kid during this season. Remember the songs, the candy, the parties, the laughing, the excitement and the feeling of something pretty great. Can you do that? Can you let go of the years you've lived with the increasing pressure and anxiety of all that the season brings and, instead, choose to see it from a different view?

2. Make a pact with your family and friends with whom you normally swap gifts. Send an email saying that this year gifts bought or paid for are prohibited. This is the year of making, baking, drawing, planting, writing and showing care through some sort of creation. Don't say that you don't have time to create. You don't have time to shop and spend money either. Santa will still have to show for the kids, of course. This is an alternative to adult gift buying. Tap into a side of yourself that can come up with a priceless gift of thought.

3. Turn Facebook OFF. Every one of us would gain something during the holiday season if we made a deal to stay off of Facebook. Close the door for one month and see what it brings to your everyday life. The spirit and feeling of the holiday season cannot be felt through the light of a computer screen. The time we spend peering in on the lives of others could be spent enhancing the quality of our own. Try it!

4. Remove cellphones from the front and center seat of your life. Just for this month, when you sit down to do something or talk to a family member, turn your cellphone off. In fact, when at all possible, even when you're in the car alone, turn your phone off. Not so long ago we left messages for people on answering machines and got to them when we had our undivided attention to give them. We used to get to focus for long periods of time without distraction, multi-thinking, multi-tasking and doing. The amount of anxiety it could relieve could be immeasurable in your life.

5. Shut down the computer -- all computers in the home -- for two hours before bedtime. The stimulation induced from the light of the screen tricks your brain into thinking it's the middle of the day, when your brain is really supposed to be winding down for sleep. Many of us wonder why we can't fall asleep and why the kids stay up so late. Screen lighting and overstimulation are confusing our bodies' natural rhythms. Turn your computers off after dinner, just for the month, and see if you feel a difference!

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