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Tis The Season For Love ? and Stress!

The holidays are upon us and for many people this is the most stressful time of year. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it in, places to go, people to see, gifts to buy, food to prepare, and on and on and on. We may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, and angry, rather than joyful, loving and peaceful. Greeting cards proclaim wishes of peace, joy, happiness, and love regardless of the event being celebrated. They talk of families gathering, warm homes filled with love and peace, but for many, those wishes do not translate into reality.

Our memories of wonderful holidays from our childhood and our expectations for this year may put an enormous amount of pressure on us. There are traditions to be followed and expectations to be met, those of others and those we put on ourselves, along with the commercialism that has the stores full of holiday decorations and "gifts" even before the Halloween candy has been put away. Some people will struggle through much of next year to pay off the credit card debt that they accumulate over the holidays. But saddest of all, is when the holiday is over and we think to ourselves "Is that all there is?" "Where was the joy, the peace, the love?" "Why does it seem as though it never measures up to our expectations?"

The answer is "our expectations." One of the ways to reduce holiday stress is to take some time to examine your expectations for the upcoming months. What traditions have to be followed? What have you always done, because it is always done? Make a list, ask those who celebrate with you to make a list as well. Carve out some time to sit down and share your lists and discuss which of these traditions are really important to all of you and which are more work than you want to do. Get everyone involved in doing the things that may have been up to you. Discuss ways in which you can create new traditions or recreate old ones that will bring more peace, joy and love to your family, not only during the holidays. I recently read an interesting book by Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages: How to express heartfelt commitment to your mate.

Although it's primarily for couples, I think that the premise applies to everyone that we love. The author says that there are 5 basic ways in which we experience feeling loved. We tend to show others we love them in the same way we feel loved. The problems arise when our "love language" is different. The five languages, in random order, are "acts of service" "physical touch" "words of affirmation" "receiving gifts" and "quality time". If, for the holidays, you show your love for someone by "giving them a gift" and their love language is "acts of service" which means that they feel loved when you do something for them, there is a good chance that neither of you will feel that your expectations have been met.

Perhaps, when your family gets together to discuss traditions and expectations for the holidays, you could discuss what would help you feel closer as a family, more loved, more joyful, and how this could create more peace. This can be a season for joy, peace, happiness, and most of all for love.

Lorna Minewiser, Ph.D has been helping people reduce their stress for more than 15 years. She offers individual and group coaching, workshops, CDs, e-books and Stress Reduction and Relaxation kits. She is available for presentations on the power of beliefs and on Stress Reduction. Her popular e-course on Reducing Holiday Stress is available free at

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