By Susan Shifay CheungAll Decorated!

I’m not feeling the positive spirit of holiday preparations. There’s just too much – too much stimulation, spending and contact with people (or, conversely, not enough contact, if you’re far from loved ones.)

Then, there’s the meal planning. You pour over recipe books and try new dishes you hope won’t fall flat when you present them at the dinner table. And don’t pretend you don’t know your holiday cookies, pot luck dishes or sides are being judged at the holiday table, neighborhood cookie exchange, office celebration, or friend’s party.

You go into “to do” list frenzy while decking out the halls with boughs of holly and cursing the dud fairy lights from last year.

“Bah! Humbug!” But, I know you get it!

If you feel like I do, I offer you 25 ways to keep sane during this stressful time. No, it’s not another “to do” list, but fun suggestions to restore your humor.

1. Drink your favorite tipple, from low fat eggnog to something far stronger.

2. Eat good chocolate to get that peppy feeling.

3. Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, it’s all good coffee therapy.

4. Dance around the room to several high energy songs.

5. Laugh, often; don’t cry.

6. Sing loudly (hairbrush is optional.)

7. Seek out friends, who can laugh with you.

8. Feed your soul everyday by meditating, praying, practicing yoga, or other forms of deliberate centering.

9. Get your partner to give you a neck rub, foot rub… I won’t go on, as this is a family website.

10. Draw a picture of how you feel. Stick people aren’t a bar to the adage: “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

11. Do something creative with your kids, like making an ornament out of Popsicle sticks or dyed macaroni. Going overboard with glitter glue is positively encouraged.

12. Hug everyone you care about.

13. Read a book, even if it’s only a page, and don’t let it be a harrowing sob-in-your-tissue downer of a book. I won’t tell if it’s a bodice-ripping sizzling page turner (hush!)

14. Write down how you feel in a holiday mini journal. Be honest about you feelings–the good, bad and ugly.

15. Give gratitude for 25 days. Quite honestly, it’s great to be alive and be able to celebrate.

16. Exercise when you can, anything from pulling in your tummy while vacuuming to a full fledged boot-camp.

17. Watch your favorite chick flick with a bowl of popcorn and a cup of hot chocolate in your “Hello Kitty” pjs (no one can see you!)

18. Eat your favorite meal, have breakfast for dinner, swap a meal with a friend, or cook something for someone you know would appreciate it.

19. Make some grown-up cookies. I recommend chocolate chip espresso cookies.

20. Go on a date night; it doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy.

21. Have a girlfriend night or girls’ lunch and shop.

22. Make an indulgent wish list of personal gifts. You’ve always wanted that…. But, know that these are only things and not to be surpassed by the love around you.

23. Practice a favorite hobby, like knitting or crackle painting a vase you picked up at a consignment sale.

24. Light a soothing scented candle, close you eyes and drift.

25. Have a hot bath. Remember to hang a sign on the door. “Do not disturb on pain of death!”

By all means make yourself a holiday “to do” list, but know it can change and the Universe won’t implode, if you fall short.

Appreciate that while you give your all to others, you shouldn’t forget to give to yourself. You need fuel–not just physical, but mental, emotional and spiritual–to get through. And then you can collapse, put your feet up and let others do the cleaning up.

Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at y2s2cheung@yahoo.com.