All I Want For Christmas Is My Peace of Mind

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There is still time for joy during the holiday chaos.

Renee Wiggins, author of Stress Down and Lift UP. Renee says, "The weather outside is horrible, and the lines inside the mall are long and frightful. With not a dime to spare, there are gifts to buy and send. And grandmother's present, ordered three weeks ago, hasn't yet arrived though there are just a few days left until Christmas."

Is this familiar?

The holidays can be stressful. With often only two paychecks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many people are in deep before they enter a single store. Perhaps you have strayed from your diet thanks to countless parties. And all this can be much worse if you live alone or have recently lost a friend or family member through death, marital separation or divorce.

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Well, ho, ho, ho! For, no matter your circumstances, there is still time for joy, according to health and wellness consultant, Renee Wiggins, author of Stress Down and Lift Up.

Renee suggests these ways to find good cheer instead of holiday stress:

  • Buy one gift per person and stick to a budget.
  • Don't shop 'til you drop. Take mini-breaks while you are out and about.
  • Purchase food that requires little preparation and cooking time. Then you can sit down and enjoy the holiday with family and friends.
  • Limit the number of parties you attend.
  • When you do eat out, choose fruits and vegetables without heavy sauces. Look for broiled, baked or poached meats.
  • Snack on sugar-free cookies and low-fat treats like pretzels, raw vegetables, apple slices, dried fruits and baked chips.

If you're worried about gift-giving, send a gift from the heart:

  • Make a holiday card on your computer, or use family photos to make cards.
  • Fill an orange with whole cloves and tie a ribbon around it for a great aromatherapy gift.
  • Add cinnamon and nutmeg to apple cider and boil. After it has cooled, pour the delectable mixture in a jar and wrap the jar with garland.
  • Boil a half-cup each of canned pears, peaches, and crushed pineapple. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices to taste. Boil until fruit is mushy. Cool; pour in a jar; place a ribbon on top for another great drink for those cold winter days.

Some advance planning can also make your shopping go more easily. Renee suggests looking for bargains throughout the year to help avoid both long lines and the wait for an ordered present to arrive. And, if you are going to be shopping and shipping gifts, be ready for all that waiting by bringing along a book. Or spend those minutes listening to music, writing your grocery list, meditating, or doing deep breathing exercises. It's also smart to shop early in the morning.

Renee's best advice is to think positive. She recently noted, "You cannot change most situations, but you can change the way you see those situations. Santa had a list of who was naughty and nice. Why not make your own lists -- of things you can change and of things you cannot change? You may be surprised that the list of things out of your control is not as long as you think, for we are usually our own worst critics and enemies, building our own obstacles."

Renee's final recommendation for avoiding the worst of the holidays? Get lots of sleep. With plenty of rest, and suggestions like those above, this holiday, you should be able to release, relax and enjoy. Ho, ho, ho!

Renee Wiggins is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian (RD/LD), Certified Physical Fitness Trainer (CPFT), Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), and operates Results by Renee ( Her most recent book is Stress Down and Lift Up, honored with second place in the self-help category at the DIY Book Festival, and available through Renee's website.

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