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Guide to holiday calm

Ah yes, the holidays. It's that magical time of year when we run around frantically looking for everything from the perfect turkey and the perfect gift to the perfect significant other.

What, you aren't feeling stressed yet? Don't be fooled by the calm before the storm - you should start planning for a mellow, relaxed holiday season before it's too late.

6 ways to keep your cool

  1. Make a list And check it twice! This is an ideal time to get used to knowing what you want and deciding how you're going to get it. Whether you plan to shop online, make your own gifts, frequent the local mall, Virgo, Taurus, and Capricorn friends will affirm the value of staying organized.

  2. Check your attitude. Spreading good cheer will deliver an excellent karmic return. These weeks are a great time to look inward and take responsibility for your actions. Instead of wallowing in the emotional setbacks of the season, make an effort to be a kind and patient shopper, a generous tipper, and a cheerful partygoer.

  3. Go on an early shopping binge. Remember frantically finishing your shopping on Christmas Eve last year and the stressed-out voice inside your head saying, "Never again, never again?" Well, that voice was right; there's no better way to keep calm during the holidays than by beating the crowds. Grab that list you just started (see tip #1) and hit the mall before the holiday rush.

  4. Holiday Feng Shui. Turn your office, dining room, bedroom or any important space into a holiday wonderland. Rich red and lush green velvet will warm any room. Or wrap Christmas lights around your bed frame and set the timer so that they light up right before you climb in for a restful night's sleep.

  5. Be healthy. Not everyone is a gym rat, but we can all beat stress by squeezing some sort of physical activity into our day. Whether you're lifting weights, doing yoga, meditating or hitting a spinning class, body and mind alike benefit from your renewed commitment to regular exercise. Take the time to center your spirit even as you renew your body.

  6. Be selfless. Remember the true spirit of the holidays this year by asking yourself two crucial questions:

    Who in my life matters the most to me?
    What gift would mean the most to them?

    Look for clues and you may find out that the most meaningful presents, like time, attention or intimacy, can't be purchased in a store. But if it can, splurge and buy the perfect gift. There's nothing that reduces stress more effectively than doing something good for someone you love.

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