ON MY MIND: Have yourself a stressless holiday

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

What if we had a holiday and nobody got stressed out? Ah, you can’t imagine, right?

I have had some bad years where the holidays knocked the heck out of me. I have now gotten better. I think a huge part of that was having my children grow up and leave home.

Inspired by the 12 days of Christmas, I have come up with twelve tips to help us survive the holidays without so much stress. They are free. What a deal!


1. Take time to appreciate yourself. What? Yep, appreciating ourselves sort of grounds us and makes us feel good. Each day tell yourself three positive things about yourself.


2. Have an attitude of gratitude. Each day make a quick list of what you are grateful for in your life. Bernie Siegel says, “If you get up every day grateful for life, you’re happy every day. But, if you get up waiting for something to happen to make you happy, you’ve got a problem.”

We are quick to think of the negative in our lives. Taking time to reflect on the positive lifts us up.


3. Laugh. Who makes you laugh? See, write or call them. They are medicine for your soul.

I do a Christmas letter of mostly cartoons. Laughter is a gift we can give to others, and it is free.


4. Treat yourself to holiday music you love. Perhaps it will soothe you. Perhaps it will pump you up as you wrap, cook, etc. Each year I get a new holiday CD as a  special treat and we all enjoy it.

If you enjoy the Messiah, you will want to try to come see it at the Greenville High School Performing Arts Center on Friday, November 30, 7 p.m. It is free and you don’t need to get tickets. Just come, sit back and enjoy the beautiful sounds. It will be performed by the Montcalm Community College & Friends Choir, directed by Char Lothian.There will be about 100 musicians and singers from our county.


5. Get yourself outside each day. Smell the outdoors and notice the beauty. Relish it and notice the refreshment it gives you. If you feel up to it, take a walk. If you don’t,  just take in the outdoors for a bit.


6. Exercise. It is the number one thing to ease stress. No matter what exercise you do or where you do it, keep doing it through the holiday season. You need the benefits it will give you. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, try committing to doing so from now through the holidays. You can quit in January, but wait and see how you feel by then. You may just want to continue it through the new year.


7. Grow and learn. Do something new. Try something new. Meet someone new. There are endless ways to make this happen. Which ones appeal to you?


8. Read. Each holiday I choose a book I really, really want to read. I think of it as a treat. It is there to take my mind off the stressful parts of holiday reality. It is a wonderful way to escape.


9. Think about your people skills. Who might be a problem for you? What could you do differently this year? We need to quit expecting others to be different. Usually the only difference will come from how we react. Thinking difficult people situations through ahead of time can really make a positive difference.


10. Smile. It is free. It is a gift you can give to the world. Many will be very glad to get it and it will become contagious. You can start something good by putting on a great big ole smile.


11. Set goals for 2013. I begin my list now. Whenever I think of anything I may want to do in the new year, I jot it down. After Christmas I begin to put a serious goal list together for 2013. This can make a huge positive difference in your world. It doesn’t matter what they are. It only matters that they are important to you.


12. Pray. Each day give your stresses over to God. There is a famous saying, let go and let God. I can testify on this one. It works.


Perhaps the holidays never stress you out. Perhaps you are one of those people who do everything early and sit back and watch the rest of us go crazy. Even if you do not feel stress at this time of year, you still may want to try these tips. I can’t guarantee they will make you all feel better. However, I can guarantee that they will make most people feel better. There is a trick to this, though, and the trick is action. You have to actually do them.

Happy, stressless, fun-filled holidays to you.

Visit Maureen at book signings for her new book, “On my mind … or what’s left of it.” The signings are from 9-10:30 a.m. today at the First Congregational Bazaar in Greenville; from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Clifford Lake Inn; and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 24 at The Celtic Path in Hubbardston.

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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