The holidays will soon be upon us. That tends to create a combination of joy and anxiety. So let’s focus on the joy and let go of the anxiety. After all the years of stressing over holidays, isn’t it time to think about making some changes to make the experience more joyful?

Along with the help of a delightful book called “Simplify Your Christmas” by Elaine St. James, I put together some ideas to make the holidays more enjoyable.

Let’s start with looking back to see what you really enjoyed about the holidays as a child. What was your favorite part of the season? When you think back to what brought you joy as a child, imagine how it might inspire you to do something for a child today by a way of creating awe and wonder in this holiday season. Take a few minutes and relive some of your good memories. Getting out your photo album might help to jog your memory. Was it something like having family together, receiving presents, eating your favorite foods, or participating in religious ceremonies? Memories can always be recreated. You may not have some of the same people in your life, but I’ll bet you can surround yourself with new acquaintances.

I remember when I was single. My next door neighbors invited me into their home to enjoy the holidays with them. This became a new tradition, and we became family as I spent various holidays with them throughout the years. I am now married, and they are still a part of my family. It goes to show what can happen when you reach out to those around you.

This may be a perfect time of the year to do some serious clutter clean up. Do you have so many holiday decorations that you couldn’t possibly use them all? If so, consider sorting through them and giving away those items that you have not used for years. Charities are happy to get holiday decorations at this time of year so they can pass them on to others. And think about how much easier it will for you to decorate your home with fewer items.

Holiday cards have become rather expensive to mail out these days. Maybe it’s time to think about cutting back a bit this year. Sending cards with a holiday letter only to out of town friends and relatives would save you some time and postage. For your local friends, instead of sending out cards with promises to get together in the New Year, consider not sending them a card, but call and set a date to get together now instead without waiting for the New Year to arrive.

This is the season to monitor your stress levels. Stress and anxiety can overtake us very easily as we prepare for the upcoming holidays. Don’t let your exercise slack off. If that has already happened, then it’s time to pick it up again. It is essential to take care of yourself during this busy time. Go out for a walk with friends, get involved in an exercise class such as yoga to help you relax, or get a relaxing massage at one of the local spas.

Choosing the right gift for a friend can be a challenge. You might consider doing something different this year such as giving a donation to your friends’ favorite charity in honor of them. Many charities will issue a certificate showing that a donation has been made on your friends’ behalf.

It’s also time to let go of that feeling that you are not doing enough! What ever you choose to do is enough. Sometimes when we have family with us for the holidays, we feel we must keep up with those extravagant traditions. After while they simply become too much to continue year after year, and yet we continue to them out of guilt. It might be time this year to make a change. Maybe you will even decide you want to spend this time somewhere else—somewhere that will bring you a new fresh perspective on the holidays. If you are not enjoying the situation you find yourself in, then change the situation.

Have you considered starting a new tradition? Have you noticed the traditions of others that appeal to you? Go ahead, step out and try something new. It could be the beginning of a tradition that would continue within your family for years. You might even explore how other cultures celebrate the holidays.

There are many senior citizens who may not have friends or family in their local area. What a wonderful opportunity for you to adopt a “grandparent” and make a new friend. Check with some of the local retirement centers to see if there might be an elderly person who would love to participate in the holidays with your family.

The holiday season is the perfect time to practice the exercise of gratitude. When we think about all the blessings we have in our lives, it can be awe-inspiring. Become mindful each and every day of the blessings that you have and carry the spirit of gratitude into the New Year with you.

Susan Scholl is a Certified Professional Life Coach. You can read more about her at