Avoid the vicious cycle
of celebration

When the holidays are over, are you revving your engines to take on that latest New Year's resolution? Or, like many of us, are you lying on the couch with black rings under your eyes, fighting the sniffles and trying to figure out how you've managed to survive yet another season?


If your experience fits the latter description, don't despair. Sunny Massad, founder of the Hawaii Wellness Institute and a stress counselor, has a game plan. She says trying to please others, achieve perfection and keep up with the Joneses are sure ways to create a stressful situation. In response, Massad offers these tips so you can sing "Joy to the World" this year and actually mean it:

1. Calm your anxieties. Ask yourself what you are anxious about during the holidays, then brainstorm three things you could do to alleviate your fears. Example: The fear of failing to "get it all done" on time. Solutions: List everything on a calendar, then commit four hours a week exclusively to that list. Or, simplify elaborate plans.

2. Re-energize yourself. Double up on your B vitamins to stave off stress, prioritize a good night's sleep, be moderate with the alcohol consumption, schedule regular exercise and drink plenty of water. Brainstorm three ideas of what you can do to take care of yourself each week, and do one of them.

3. Clear obstacles. Figure out what obstacles are preventing you from having joyous holidays, and come up with a plan to clear those obstacles.

4. Identify your values. Determine what is important to you and what will ultimately inspire you to be your best. Align your plans with your values.

5. Design your environment. Your holiday environment can support or distract you, depending on the expense and amount of time required to set up, maintain and take down. Create a holiday environment that brings joy rather than stress.

6. Acknowledge your successes. At the end of each week, note your accomplishments, no matter how small they might seem.

7. Chart a clear course. Create a plan that will guide you to a simple but joyous holiday season. The key concept here is "simple."

8. Be flexible when needed. Be ready to change your tack when the winds shift, but don't be blown off course.

9. Find a stress-free partner. Seek out people who enjoy the holidays, and ask them to mentor and support you during the season.

10. Enjoy the magic of the season! Ask yourself, What will I do this season to ensure that I enjoy each step of the holidays?

For those who need help yanking themselves out of the vicious holiday cycle, Hawaii Wellness Institute is offering classes to support people in managing stress. To register, call 848-5544 or go online to hawaiiwellnessinstitute.org.

Here is a sampling of classes:

Introduction to Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program: Move toward greater balance, control and peace of mind. The majority of those who complete the program report an increased ability to relax, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, improved self-esteem and ability to cope more effectively with stress. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 20, Hawaii Wellness Retreat House, $15.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program: Guided by a trained facilitator, this nonsectarian, eight-week program consists of meditation, gentle yoga, journaling, dialogue, reading, inquiry exercises, audiotapes and more. Learn to mobilize your resources to take charge of your own healing in new ways. 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 12 to Nov. 30, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 20, Hawaii Wellness Retreat House, $450.

Setting Your Intention for 2005 -- A Self-reflective Workshop: One-day workshop for those who feel pressured, overcommitted and stretched to their limit. Receive assistance in working on your vision of the future and creating a working plan. 1 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 2, Hawaii Wellness Retreat House, $45.

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