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The grandchildren are visiting soon, and I couldn’t help but recall a long-ago past. Like

Christmas is full of joy and anticipation!

Christmas is full of joy and anticipation!

my five-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl, I was caught up in Christmas magic. I couldn’t wait! What a contrast with these days’ scrambling to accomplish everything, to set the stage, to “deck the halls.” It can be exhausting!

During a recent hike in the Santa Fe National Forest, I talked with a friend about combating Holiday Doldrums. His solution was simple: “Aim for peace, and stay within the confines of the day.” Great advice as far as it goes, but I’ve found it helpful to set boundaries for the day, especially during December madness. Based on a recent message from the Chopra Center, here’s my personal six-point plan.

Be in the NOW, regarding each day, from sunrise to night, as a gift.

Raise your appreciation quotient. Challenge yourself, as you go throughout the holidays, to turn your attention to others. Last week I was stuck in a slow-moving line at the post office. Instead of the snag turning into an ordeal, I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a fellow USPS customer. We discussed the superiority of the greeting cards carried by our post office. Just one example of being grateful for the “small stuff.”

3. Think less about yourself, more about others. Give your ego a vacation and practice really listening. It is a way of flipping the script and focussing on being.

4.Be easy on yourself. Don’t obsess about making the holidays perfect. That can be a

Make it a daily practice to recall at least 5 things for which you're grateful.

Make it a daily practice to recall 5 things for which you’re grateful.

recipe for disappointment. Look for ways to be satisfied with all you accomplish.

5. Set limits, and do it gracefully. The holidays are often a time when old family issues reappear, stress levels rise, and people overstep your boundaries. Reactive responses are the enemy. If you find yourself saying the same things you’ve said in the past, just stop. Determine to recalibrate your emotions.

6. Focus on the spiritual. Whatever your beliefs, place them in center stage during Christmas and Hannukah. Turn to scriptures, poetry, being in nature — whatever inspires you.

Create a checklist, writing these suggestions on an index card. As you go about the day, refer to the list to see how you’re doing. It shouldn’t be burdensome but more like a game. Be grateful for the times when you meet your expectations. How do YOU make the holidays less stressful and more joyous. Please share your reflections!

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Please join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on adoption, hiking and life. Let us know if you’d like to contribute an adoption-related guest post. And remember, as of now, the days are growing longer!

Nature can be the best therapy of all!

Nature can be the best therapy of all!

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