Galway Advertiser 2005/2005_12_22/GA_2212_E1_038.pdf 

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Galway Advertiser

December 22 2005









MARY O'CONNOR Have a guilt-free Christmas
It's just three days away. You still have to get some presents for family and friends, clean the house, buy all the groceries and ensure you look great for the festive season. How can you achieve this with minimal stress and fuss? Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Planning is the secret of success. If you have not already drawn up an action plan do so now and adhere to it religiously. Make a list of everything you must do from vacuuming the house from top to bottom to attending the nativity play and buying last minute gifts. Rank duties in order of importance and tick them off as you get them done. However, avoid setting yourself unrealistic targets and deadlines. This the secrets of not just surviving Christmas but of enjoying the season of goodwill. Do not have hard and fast rules set out and expect everyone to follow them. Compromise on everything from seasonal traditions (what time everyone should sit down for dinner to who should do the dishes) to how the holiday period should be spent (whose relatives should be visited first and when). Be flexible with children also. However, that does not mean letting up on discipline. Children tend to become anxious and to play up when clear rules are not set down. 4. Try to have realistic expectations. Most of us expect too much at Christmas. We want to be entertained round the clock and feel loved, wanted and pampered all the time. Accept you may feel angry, cheated and bored at some stage as you would during any holiday period. 5. Make time for yourself. Have a lie-down, a relaxing bath, put your feet up in front of the fire or listen to some relaxing music if things are getting too hectic and you feel like snapping at your nearest and dearest. Even a 10 minute break will help recharge your batteries. 6. Enlist support. If family and friends offer to help with babysitting, domestic chores, etc, accept the invitation with lest extra guests call. 9. If you are a guest at someone else's home this Christmas, remember to behave. That means not criticising the food (even if the turkey tastes like sawdust!), their children or their taste in interior decor. Be liberal with praise and appreciation. The best guests are those who bring a gift, have an ability to make others feel good and know when to stay out of the way (when the children of the house are becoming unbearable/a row is brewing between mum and dad/or when a drunken relative decides it's time for a bit of honesty). 10. Avoid boredom which can easily turn into teasing or quarrelling. Have some games a n d spirit without spoiling your fun or piling on the pounds by eating a high fibre breakfast such as porridge, drinking two litres of water a day (and a glass between each alcoholic drink in the evening) and high fibre, lowsugar foods such as crispbread, cucumber and ham before going out to prevent you eating too much during the party season. If all this sounds like hard work, just try to keep your food volume down, avoid second helpings family and friends, consider yourself lucky. If not, try to be positive and do something special for yourself.

quizzes at the ready, take note of any good films on television later, arrange to go for a walk or have a lie-down if the festivities have left you feeling exhausted.

and nibbles such as nuts and crisps, steer away from take-aways and do not eat before going to bed. Aim to go for a daily walk. 14. Don't waste time fretting. When you have completed a chore be it buying gifts or groceries or cleaning the house, feel good about it and let it go. 15. Vow to eliminate the word guilt from your festive vocabulary. That extra chocolate, the biggest slice of cake, the additional helpings of dinner or that third brandy which you believe will settle your nerves and stomach. Enjoy them all. Don't let worries about your credit card bill, expanding waistline or untidy house take the edge off your fun or enjoyment either. Remember, fretting wastes valuable energy and can lead to stress so chill out. 16. Make time for joy. Christmas is a special time so be sure to enjoy it. Drive around to look at lights and decorations, watch one of the seasonal movies, attend a carol service and have fun preparing for Santa. Have a stocking hanging ceremony - let each child decide where to hang his/her stocking and what drink and food to leave out for Santa and his reindeers. If you are spending Christmas surrounded by

will only add to the pressure and make you feel stressed. 2. Make a list of what you'll be buying for whom also and where you think you will find it. This will save you time and reduce your stress levels. The best way to avoid giving someone an unwanted gift is to think before you buy. Consider the person's likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests. With a little thought and planning you can please everybody. Shop when the streets are least crowded. Early morning is a good time. 3. Vow to be flexible. This is one of

open arms. It will take some of the pressure off you. 7. Be assertive. Say no to unwanted invitations or favours. Time is running out and you have a lot to do already. If you feel bad about it, make up an excuse but let it be a good one! 8. Work out a menu for Christmas Day if you have not done so already. Make a list of all the foodstuffs and drinks you need before you head to the shops. Check you have the basics such as bread, milk, butter, tea, coffee. Ensure you have more than enough

11. Listen to your children. If you are a parent it is easy to lose track of the real meaning of Christmas amid all the mayhem in the run up to Christmas. If your schedule is very busy, set aside a time when you can give them your exclusive attention. Even if you are feeling rushed, tired or irritable try to give each child a fair share of individual listening time. 12. Have some spare presents on hand. Wrap up some chocolates, a bottle of wine or toiletry sets. These will save the day if you get a gift from an unexpected caller or forget someone special. 13. Eat smart. For many, Christmas is not just one of the most expensive times of year, it is also the most expansive! It is every slimmer's nightmare, the festive season can easily outdo all the hard work of getting in shape. Get into the yuletide

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