Does the holiday season have you feeling stressed out? To keep your holiday season healthy, fun and enjoyable, try following the eight tips below.

1. Eliminate the bottom 20 percent of your activities.

Does the holiday season have you feeling stressed out? To keep your holiday season healthy, fun and enjoyable, try following the eight tips below.

1. Eliminate the bottom 20 percent of your activities.

At holiday time, you must squeeze in normal work activities plus a wide array of other social activities. For many people, a few extra stressors are all that is necessary to overtax their immune system and make them ill. To avoid holiday overload, begin by identifying your priorities. Next, place them in rank order and then let go of doing the bottom 20 percent. The 80-20 rule tells us we receive 80 percent of our benefits from completing the top 20 percent of our activities. Since the bottom 20 percent produces less than 1 percent of benefit, eliminating these activities will reduce your stress at little cost to you. If you decide to act on an item from the bottom 20 percent, decide what other item(s) you are willing to drop first. If this strategy works during the holidays, continue the practice into 2005.

2. “No” is a complete sentence.

We often overload our schedules by saying “yes” to things we really don’t want to do. When someone asks you to attend a party or to volunteer for something you would rather not do, say “no” without explaining or justifying. What makes saying “no” difficult is our need to justify our decision. Justification is simply unnecessary. If the person presses you to say “yes,” tell them, “I have another commitment” (even if the commitment is relaxing at home).

3. Distinguish between “wants” vs. “needs.”

“Needs” are priority items that you must complete, whereas “wants” can go undone if necessary. Important needs include making sure you have enough rest, continuing your lead generation activities so you will have business in January, and spending time with those you love. Wants may include attending holiday parties, sending out holiday cards, or putting up holiday decorations. While wants may add to the holiday cheer, make sure your needs are handled first.

4. Save time, energy and money by doing your greeting cards and shopping online.

Using electronic greeting cards is less expensive and often more personal than sending the same holiday card to everyone. The quickest way to shop online is to purchase gift certificates. Thousands of retailers offer these and allow your recipients to pick out exactly what they want. If you want to send an actual gift, shopping online requires some lead time for shipping. Nevertheless, avoiding the crowds is well worth it. Furthermore, “shopping bots” are an online tool that searches the Web for the best prices on various items. (If you shop online, be sure to determine how long it will take your gift to reach its destination.)

5. Tackle big projects in pieces.

For your holiday cards, spend 30 minutes a day over one week. For gift giving, dedicate one shopping day for the kids and another for the adults. Save time by having the stores gift wrap each present. To avoid stress, plan on each project taking 25 percent more time than you anticipate. This will help you avoid trying to cram too many activities into too little time.

6. Let go of expectations.

Stress often occurs when we have attachment to how people will respond to our cards, gifts or even our presence. No matter what you receive, express gratitude. If people don’t acknowledge your gifts or your efforts, remember this is their shortcoming, not yours. Focus on the present and enjoy each moment for the gifts it contains.

7. Keep your alcohol and sweets intake at a minimum.

At parties, choose non-alcoholic drinks, high-protein items, along with fresh fruits and vegetables. If willpower is an issue, park yourself as far as possible from the goodies and stay there. This allows you to avoid blood-sugar crashes as well as that miserable diet in January.

8. Alone for the holidays?

Volunteer to serve a hot meal, or visit a retirement home or an orphanage. Others will appreciate your efforts and you’ll feel better, too. Giving to others who have less than we do is one of the best ways to celebrate the holiday season.

Most importantly, chase away the holiday blues with the gifts of laughter and song. When we’re happy, we seldom get sick. So, put a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and enjoy the holiday season!

Bernice Ross is an owner of and can be reached at


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