With the Thanksgiving holidays behind us, are you one of those people who suddenly feels the crush of the upcoming season? Gift giving season is upon us, along with parties, social events, wrapping up the year before a new one begins, children’s pageants and the list goes on and on. All of this is meant to bring us joy and yet it seems as though we are on constant overwhelm. This year add the concerns that we have been feeling about the economy and the holidays can seem to be turning into nothing but a dizzying array of obligation!

There is hope. Here is how I deal with the season. I breathe. That’s right, deep breathes, allowing my thoughts to clear and my body to relax. Breath is life, we always have our breath with us and yet all too often we get into overwhelm and we forget to breath. When you are stressed, your breathing is quick and shallow. When I recognize that in myself, I stop and take a deep, wonderful attitude changing breath.

The next thing I have had to learn is to forget the fantasy of perfection. If my uncle is a goof ball with outrageous behavior and opinions that he is compelled to spew every other day of the year, why should I expect him to be any different during a holiday event? I have lowered my expectations of how things “should” be. (I am not fond of “shoulding” on myself anyway.) If it is truly a family or friend get together that is important to me, than I focus on the relationships and enjoy the people I am with.

It is my experience that my friends and family would rather get together with a happy sane me, than the one that is weepy and weary because I created the perfect table decorations or had that one extra appetizer that no one knew I was going to serve in the first place. So far, neither Martha Stewart nor Norman Rockwell have featured my celebrations, but my friends and family have all enjoyed themselves as we usually end up laughing about everything and nothing.

With the economy what it is this year, it is a good time to remind ourselves about the reason for this season. Whatever your holiday or your Spiritual beliefs are, keep your focus there. When we take time out to renew ourselves Spiritually, we feel more ready to handle whatver comes our way. I like to remind myself that in this moment, I am safe, I am healthy and all my needs have been met.

Don’t try to buy happiness. Often, when setting a budget and sticking to it, everyone is happier. After all, how much fun is “the gift” in January when the bills start to roll in? Perhaps, the gift of time is what loved ones would prefer. Be honest with friends and family, set limits on the amount spent on a gift, limits that fit your budget.

I enjoy a moment of quiet relaxation, of self hypnosis. When I find my words becoming terse or negative, I stop and think about how I want to feel. I think about who I want to be. Try it. Take a moment now and relax. Breathe deeply and with your eyes closed recall a favorite holiday. Recall the events, the sights, the sounds, the aromas. Most importantly, recall how wonderful you felt. Recall those memories of joy and love. Fill yourself with those feelings of joy and love right now, then take those feelings forward with you through out the rest of your day.