How to Get Cheap All Inclusive Vacation Packages

Going on vacations is nice, but the main drawback is the cost. However, there are ways you can lower the expenses. You can try the following suggestions after deciding where you want to go.

Tips on Finding Cheap All Inclusive Vacations

Never travel during the holidays. Schedule your trip weeks before or after the holidays. This will save you money. Get in touch with a travel agent that can handle your chosen destination. They will be able to tell you when the most affordable time to go will be.

You can also go to the Web. Suppose you want to go to Thailand. Just enter cheap Thailand all inclusive vacation packages and you will get several hits. You can also visit resorts online. They will have several packages you can choose from. Before choosing, read reviews so you can get an idea of what the resort is like.

Cheap Aruba Vacation Packages

Start by going online and comparing the various travel packages available. While cost is a factor, make sure the package you choose has the amenities you want. This is a vacation after all, so you have to pamper yourself a bit. Make a list of the amenities you want the package to have. Now check the packages and see which ones offer them at the lowest cost.

Compute the costs in their entirety. Include the hotel, travel fare, meals, paying the tour guide, tips in the restaurants, etc. Make sure you add a few extra dollars in case of emergencies (or you decide to do some extra shopping).

If you want to visit any particular area / event, make sure it is included in the package. Otherwise you will pay extra for it.

Tip: pick a hotel that is near the tourist attractions you want to visit. It will reduce your travel fares. Be updated on the costs of transport so you do not get overcharged.

Cheap Puerto Vallarta Vacation Packages

Do a search on the Internet. There are many websites that offer affordable all inclusive packages to Puerto Vallarta. The features of these travel packages vary, so take your time choosing.

Ensure the package includes the activities you like (swimming, kayaking, trips to popular destinations etc). The key here is quality not quantity. Only pick the package that has the activities and amenities you want. You do not want to pay for activities you do not want to do.

Here are other suggestions. Bring picnic food when you go out. This will save you money. Avoid travelling during the peak season. Making reservations will be hard and the beaches will be full. Know the costs of tickets and fares so you are not overcharged. Print a copy of your itinerary so you can maximize your trip.

Getting cheap all inclusive vacation packages takes some time. You have to make a few phone calls and visit a few websites. You also have to make a few calculations here and there. But you are guaranteed to enjoy your vacation at a lower cost.

Holiday Tips – How to Build the Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe

For many people, the capsule wardrobe is the holy grail of dressing. The concept in itself is simple: it is simply a collection of clothes that work well together, and can be worn in different ways to suit different occasions. Achieving a capsule wardrobe for everyday wear can be tricky and certainly expensive at first, but almost everybody will already possess the essentials for a holiday capsule wardrobe.

Before you even start mixing and matching, take a deep breath. What kind of holiday are you planning? How long will you be going for? Will you be going to any events requiring a particular dress code? What is the weather forecast like?

Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can start drawing up a preliminary list. This should include your absolute essentials, such as underwear, socks and tights, as well as essential holiday items. If you’re going skiing, it’s likely you need a ski jacket! If you’re going to the beach, you probably want a sarong, bikini and a pair of flip flops.

So. Now you have your essentials sorted. These are things you will take no matter what. Now you need to do a bit of calculating! You need to know how many outfits you’ll require for your trip. Remember, this includes the flight or journey there and back. One thing that’s really worth taking into consideration is if you will have access to laundry facilities. If so, you can afford to take less with you and maybe even save on baggage charges if you’re flying.

Look at your itinerary. Are you planning on spending all day on the beach, but going out to clubs and restaurants at night? Would you rather spend your time wandering around museums and galleries? Are you planning to go to bars or go clubbing? Will you be doing any sports, and if so, what kind? Your holiday capsule wardrobe will fit around these considerations.

By now you should have a basic idea of how many separate outfits you will need and what you will need them for. Now you can start putting the actual wardrobe together.

With a capsule wardrobe, you are aiming for flexibility. While you do want one or two stunning, unusual pieces, the majority of the items should be classic and in neutral colours, such as black, grey, navy, khaki or white. The best pieces are ones that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. For example, a smart pair of jeans can be worn with a shirt for a casual daytime look but snazzed up with an evening top and heels for going out. Or, a wrap dress with leggings is great for the day, but at night bring out those heels again, ditch the leggings and put on some pretty jewellery and you’re ready for anything. See what I mean?

Here is an example of what I’d take to a hot, beachy destination:

shirt or safari dress

wrap dress or sundress

floppy hat

flat sandals

tote bag

clutch bag

sunglasses

one pair neutral-coloured high heels

neutral-coloured sweater, wrap or cardigan

one or two sets of swimwear (depends on use)

one or two sarongs

one pair linen trousers

one mid-length skirt

two sets of jewellery

two or three simple day tops

one going out top

one pretty camisole top

Most items of this list will work for any destination, so basically just adjust it to wherever you’re going. Bear in mind when choosing the items that as far as possible, you should be able to mix and match them. Skirts and trousers in particular should be in neutral colours.

Good luck!

Disneyland Vacations – 4 Steps To Booking Your Trip

Some people say “80% of your vacation is the anticipation!” Let’s get started with tese tips on booking a trip to the ‘House of the Mouse?’. If you have a particular interest in Disneyland Vacations, then this informative article will help, even before you strap on your mouse ears…

Disneyland park at Anaheim, CA in the USA is in fact one of the best theme parks in the world and booking a trip to Disneyland can itself get you into a good mood. However, like any vacation, you need to make sure that you’ve got your Trip to Disneyland planned out. Good planning will not only add to your enjoyment but will also help you in saving some money.

Here are some tips that will help you plan your Disneyland trip:

Before you book: You must make sure that Disneyland is open on all the days that you plan to visit Disneyland on. Though Disneyland is usually open on all days throughout the year, there might be times when it is closed e.g. Did you know that Disneyland was closed for one day in 2005 in preparation for their 50th anniversary celebrations?

Timing is everything: If you plan a trip to Disneyland during off-peak days, you not only get great deals on travel and accommodations, but also on the entry tickets for parks. Moreover, the rush in Disneyland is a lot less on off-peak days so you might be able to reduce the wait time for the attractions. However, some attractions and events might not be open during off-peak times. Also, the opening hours might be limited during off peak period of the year. So, check the calendar at Disneyland website and decide on the dates you want to visit Disneyland on.

Book in advance: The general rule of booking travel / vacation applies to Disneyland too. Booking your hotel and flight in advance is especially important if you are planning to travel to Disneyland from a far off location. It can really save you a lot of money.

Booking a complete package all at once: The website of Disneyland offers many ways of booking vacation packages in one shot. You can book ‘hotel + Air + tickets’ or just ‘hotel + tickets’ or just the hotel through their website http://disneyland.disney.go.com This can save a lot amount of time and hassle. However, if you want, you can book your trip through a variety of travel agents too.

There’s a lot to understand about Disneyland in California. In knowing the facts above, your trip to Disneyland will be a much more enjoyable experience, but there is still plenty more you’ll learn about in subsequent articles.

5 Tips For Traveling to Canada

Canada can be a great vacation destination, with its beautiful vistas, wild animals, gorgeous winding roads, and cosmopolitan cities. Even if you travel to Canada on a regular basis, the out this list of five travel tips to Canada.

Tip #1: Bring a Good Travel Guide to Canada

When you travel to any new place, it’s important to carry a good travel guide. Canada is no exception. You can print out a travel guide on line, or you can purchase a well-know travel guide for Canada, such as Lonely Planet.

A good travel guide will give you insight into where to stay, shop, eat, and drive. Plus, it will give you lots of tips about things to do, great night life, and activities that are fun for the whole family. Invest in a good travel guide for Canada, and you won’t be sorry.

Tip #2: Think About the Climate

Before you pack for your travel to Canada, don’t forget to consider the weather. If you’re going to the Maritime Provinces, remember that they tend to be a bit more humid than the provinces in the west. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, you can expect weather that hovers around freezing in winter and is temperate in the summer.

If you are traveling to Canada and staying the mountain areas, you can expect to see a lot of variation in temperature. Layering clothing is helpful in these regions. Conversely, the areas of Vancouver and Victoria are much more temperate and don’t often see freezing temperatures.

Tip # 3: Plan for the Border Crossing

Travel to Canada has gotten a lot more complicated in recent years, as new restrictions on border entry have been imposed. The documentation requirements for travel to Canada are in a constant state of change, so it’s important to check into these requirements before you leave.

For the most up-to-date information on travel to Canada from the US, go to the US Department of State Website.

Tip #4: Understand the Currency

One of the most important travel tips for Canada is the importance of understanding the currency before you go. Canada uses the Canadian dollar, although many border locations will accept American dollars as well. It’s wise to carry traveler’s checks in the Canadian dollar, since they are accepted almost everywhere.

The best exchange rate for currency and traveler’s checks is at the Canadian chartered banks. There are also many ATMs in Canada.

Tip #4: Don’t Forget About the Sales Tax

Like the US, the Canadian government has a sales tax for goods and services. Don’t forget about this tax when planning expenses when you travel to Canada.

Sales tax rates depend on the province. Current sales tax rates for the provinces are as follows:

* No sales tax in Alberta, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, or the Yukon

* 5% sales tax in Saskatchewan

* 7% sales tax in Manitoba and British Columbia

* 7.5% sales tax in Quebec

* 8% sales tax in Ontario

* 10% sales tax on Prince Edward Island

* 13% harmonized sales tax in New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia

Tip #5: Tips On Tipping

Another important tip about Travel Guide to Canada [http://www.travel-guide-canada.ca] is to understand the way Canadians handle gratuities. Tips are not usually included in restaurant bills. Standard practice is to tip 12% to 15% for good service.

For travel guides in Canada, as well as for tour bus drivers, an acceptable tip is $1 to $2 per day for each person.

10 Tips For Great Road Trips

These ten tips will make your road trip more of a breeze than a whirlwind. From car care to what to pack, we’ve thought of everything, so you don’t have to.

1. Have car in good repair. While you can make the most of a car breaking down, and still enjoy yourself, a great road trip is easier to have without being stranded, towed, or spending money on costly repairs.

2. Know the route. There is something to be said about hopping in the car and just driving in whatever direction sounds fun, but for a great road trip, planning helps immensely. That way you get gas when you need to, have places to stop for food, rest, and fuel. Being lost when you are trying to get somewhere is never fun, so plan some activities, and print out directions for how you are going to get from Point A to Point B.

3. Seating arrangements. How you sit in the car is going to make a difference in how enjoyable the road trip is. No one has fun if someone in the car is puking. The car smells, it is gross, and it stalls the trip. So, putting people who are prone to car sickness near a window, putting kids that need help near someone that can help, and separating those that tend to argue or fight can make a trip so much more fun!

4. Movies. Pack a movie player and movies for all ages. Just do not forget to pack some headphones so that those unable to watch the movie do not have to hear it. Having a DVD player in the car can make a world of difference in how well kids handle road trips.

5. Music. Put together a fun playlist or mixed CD for the road. Having a continuous set of tunes that are fun, upbeat, and will make the trip go by faster is a great idea. It always pays off to have some music ready for the road.

6. Audio Books. Nothing makes a drive go by faster than being immersed in a good book. Of course because it is hard to read and drive at the same time, not to mention it can make you sick, or be difficult without daylight, an audio book you can load on your iPod, or put in your car CD player is a great idea. Find an audio book that is the approximate length of time as your trip, that way as you end your book, you also end your destination.

7. Snacks. It is not a road trip without some delicious snacks and treats. While you will likely still stop for food, having pretzels, wheat thins, licorice, beef jerky, apple slices, cheese, yogurts, chips, candy, etc. in the car to snack on when the urge hits, can make it a much more comfortable and satisfying ride.

8. Stops. If you are on a road trip with kids, it is important to give them a break from the car. So, stop every three or four hours for about thirty minutes. It will make the trip far more enjoyable, and ironically, make it go faster. Stop at a McDonald’s and let them eat and play in the indoor play area for a while. Stop at a rest stop and let them run around for a few minutes, or take them shopping. A little break from the car can make it much more pleasant to be in it.

9. Temperature control. Keeping the car comfortable will make the ride better. So, make sure your AC works, and make sure that those who do not like it cool bring along a light jacket.

10. Sight seeing. Make the journey part of the fun. Stop along the way at various monuments, tourist spots, beaches, or whatever else you find. Taking time to stop and see the sights on the way to the site, can be really rewarding and fun!

Holiday Stress Tips

Holiday stress tip #1-

If you do not actually have a saber tooth tiger leaping towards you, and you are feeling that jittery feeling in your gut, then it is your thought about something (or several things) that is bringing the stress physiology into your body. To change the physiology, simply change the thought.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

There are some complicating factors that I do not see addressed in many stress management programs or trainings which I think are important for holiday stress management or any other time of the year stress management. If you are not actually in danger from an aggressor, then it is your thought that brings the stress response into your body.

For example, when I look at my social calendar for the month of December, I find myself scheduled to attend a number of social functions, which I would prefer not to attend.

So the thought about being in a crowd of people, none of whom will attack me by the way, several weeks ahead of time will bring an uncomfortable feeling into my body, which will be strong enough for me to notice. That is a stress response, and when I decide that I would prefer to feel something else besides stress, then I will need to deal with…

Holiday Stress Tip #2-

The physiology of stress, especially for men, if it has been strong, can take about 20 minutes to clear from the body. That is why a time out process can be important for stress reduction.

John Gottman, Ph.D., talks about what he calls Diffuse Physiological Arousal in his workshop The Art and Science of Love, describing the stress response to a tee. What Gottman does not mention is that my stress response is designed to come on line fast and strong, to motivate a leap away from the tiger.

Mihalyi Csikszentmihaly, Ph.D., in his book FLOW says the human central nervous system processes packages of data, sound waves, photons for vision, pressure for touch, tastes, smells, etc. at the rate of a package every 1/18th second.

Paul Ekman,Ph.D. says that we respond to facial expressions in perhaps 1/25th second, and Micheal Merzenich, Ph.D. says Senior Drivers need to process changing road conditions in 1/45th second.

It takes me about 1/10th second to blink my eyes. The point is that the stress response happens fast, and it takes some time to change your physiology back to calm if the diffuse physiological response was strong.

Stress management programs need to teach that information, so that folks who are using visualization or breathing or a combination of those stress management techniques do not give them up because they do not experience an immediate return to a Norman Rockwell vision of the holidays, which feels like calmness and contentment.

I do think that if I have practiced breathing and visualization techniques, for example, Open Focus, from Les Fehmi, then my body may return to a resting state faster than it would if I were just beginning my practice. What News is There From the Research? Are there holiday stress tips from recent research? Yes, there is and the most promising, in my experience, is based on technology from the new field of neurocardiology, which is the study of the heart’s own nervous system.

With some practice, I can teach my heart to change the coherence or time between heart beats from incoherent to coherent much faster than the 20 minutes that Dr. Gottman talks about in his DPA descriptions.

And this process, called heart rate variability biofeedback, works in the proverbial heart beat, using thinking and breathing tools, so as I contemplate my December social schedule, and bring a stress response, way ahead of time, I can do my heart rate variability biofeedback and return my feelings to quiet contentment now.

I have been using heart rate variability biofeedback with anger management and domestic violence clients for about 8 years, because it helps me show clients,using the computer’s feedback, how fast thoughts change physiology, either in a helpful or unhelpful direction, and how simple it is to sustain long periods of heart rate variability coherence by choosing to think cooperative and affiliate thoughts more often than not.

Heartmath does not require one to become a guru, and chant a mantra, it fits with our life style and busy schedules.

Once I train the brain in my heart to become coherent, I can think my cue thought and breath deeply and feel a very pleasant feeling in my body, a feeling so different than an unnecessary stress response. I can do this process every five minutes for 2 heart beats, and begin to steer my physiology towards the kind of physiology that encourages neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells, and neuroplasticity, which is the growth of new connections between neurons.

Increased brain fitness is a side effect of Heartmath? Sure is, and if you are an athlete or a student, the key to peak performance is relaxation, not stress.

Holiday Stress Tip #3- Learn and do heart rate variability biofeedback. It took me six 1/2 hour practices to make a serious improvement in my ability to cue the relaxation without a computer. You will feel it happening.

Choosing the Perfect Christmas Tree – Top Holiday Tips

For many families, choosing the perfect Christmas tree is the start of the holiday season. Don’t drop the ball (excuse the pun), on this all-important tradition. Follow these simple tips by America’s Christmas Tree Growers in order to find the perfect tree for your family this year:

Choose a tree lot that will either let you cut down the tree you choose yourself, or will let you watch them cut it to ensure its freshness. In the event you must purchase a pre-cut tree, be sure to ask where it was shipped from and when it was cut.

When searching the lot for a good tree, don’t disregard ones with flattened or ill-shaped sides. Mother Nature tends to leave one side very full and the other flat. Put your tree in a corner or against a wall to hide any imperfections.

Remember, trees always look bigger out of doors with the sky as their ceiling. Be sure to measure your ceiling height correctly before leaving home, as well as door widths and room sizes to ensure that the size and width tree you choose will actually fit once you get it home!

Look for trees with pliable needles. If they snap or bend easily or pull off the branch with little effort, the tree may have been picked days or weeks earlier and won’t hold up to the heat indoors and lose its needles quickly once its decorated.

All evergreens shed needles from the inner branches on a regular basis, so don’t worry if a few fall off when you pick up the tree or shake it. Check to see if your tree retailer offers shaking service to help clear these loose needles from the inside of your tree before taking it into the house.

If possible, have your tree baled in plastic tree netting to make it easier to get home and set up.

Once you’ve chosen your tree and got it home, it’s time to take proper care of it to ensure that it will last throughout the entire holiday season.

Here area few tips on how to care for your family’s new Christmas Tree:

If you are not planning on putting your tree up immediately, cut about a half inch off of the trunk and set it in a bucket of water until you’re ready to take it inside.

When you’re ready to bring your tree inside, cut another ½ inch off of the bottom of the tree trunk, then place it in the tree stand with enough water to cover the entire diameter of the tree – about one quart of water for each inch of diameter stem. Be sure to keep the water at this level to ensure freshness. A trunk that is allowed to seal over will dry quickly and lose its needles before Christmas ever arrives.

Be sure that you check the label on your tree stand to make sure it can accommodate the size tree you have chosen.

The best tree preservative is plain water. No need for added chemicals.

Keep your tree away from all heat sources. Turn down the heat in that room if at all possible t keep your tree moist and fresh.

Business Traveling Tips for Men – How to Pack Your Carry on Luggage

Keeping your shirts­ and suits free of wrinkles is a constant problem for business travelers. Would you like to learn how to better manage your business clothes while traveling? Whether you’re an experienced business traveler or a first time traveler, follow these tips and your clothing will arrive at their destination wrinkle free.

Don’t let packing clothes be a stressful part of your trip. The problems always begin by packing too many items into a small carry on bag. You must make sure you have the correct size piece of carry on luggage for the intended items and duration of travel. Over packing items into your suitcase is the main cause of clothes developing wrinkles. Be realistic when packing and limit the amount of clothes you take on your trip. When traveling for extended periods of time, consider using a larger bag that you may have to have checked.

Once you have the right luggage for your trip, then you have to pack your clothing in a way to avoid wrinkles. The key to avoiding wrinkles is pack your delicate items in the middle of your case. Keep the delicate clothing away from the edges to limit the amount of wrinkling. Place your T-shirts first, your suites next, followed by shirts and ties, then your other clothes. Packing in this way will cushion your suites and other delicate items that are prone to wrinkling. Use caution when packing your shoes as these are a common cause of wrinkled clothes. Modern carry on luggage have compartments specifically for shoe storage and other hard items.

Garment bags are very useful and I highly suggest buying one for packing dress shirts and suits. Using a garment bag, in addition to your carry on luggage, is the best method for preventing wrinkles to your dress clothes. There are luggage manufactures that offer a folding garment bag which stores in your suitcase after packing. These are the most convenient when going directly to your hotel from the airport.

Silk neckties are among the most delicate items to pack in your suitcase. Other options to silk neckties are those made from wrinkle-free microfiber, but nothing really compares to a silk necktie. So, when packing your neckties, keep them away from the edges of your suitcase and away from objects that have sharp edges. It’s best to place them in the center of your other clothes which offer the best padding. Rolling your ties is another option for preventing wrinkles. Begin rolling from the narrow end which give a uniformly tight role and will fit easily into your dress shoes. If money is no problem, you can buy one of the commercially manufactured necktie travel cases, which will definitely keep your ties free of wrinkles.

It’s important to unpack your items as soon as you arrive at your destination. After unpacking, place your suits, shirts, trousers and neckties on hangers and hang them in the closet. Remember, failure to unpack and hang up your clothes will result in severely wrinkled clothing and all of you efforts will have been a waste of time.

Make sure you stay at a hotel that provides an iron and ironing board in your room as this will give you the ability to take care of those small wrinkles yourself. Do not iron your suits of neckties! If you see wrinkles on your suits or ties, hang them in the bathroom during your hot, steamy shower. As soon as you’re finished with your shower the wrinkles will be gone. Following these tips will insure a wrinkle free trip.

Managing the Holidays – Top 10 Tips

The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of year for many people. It’s a classic example of how we ask too much of ourselves and of others.

November comes around and suddenly we expect to turn into a “Martha Stewart!” We want a beautifully decorated house, delectable homemade treats, perfect, well thought out personalized gifts and well-behaved, eternally grateful children……even after we’ve disrupted their sleep routines and filled them up with cookies and candy. A little unrealistic, perhaps?

So how do you avoid creating a horribly hectic holiday? Here are some tips:

1. Ask each family member what their number one favorite part of the holiday is and only do those. You don’t have to do everything! You might be surprised that there are some things that aren’t as important as you thought.

2. Skip the holiday cards-send New Years cards in January or Valentine cards in February when you have more time. When you send something later, people are more likely to read it. If you send cards and family updates in January or February there’s a better chance they’ll remember what it said.

3. Give theme gifts: magazine subscriptions, donations in their name, gift cards, tickets to a concert, movie, play, etc. Go through a list of magazines and choose one that fits each person on your list. Think about their favorite store, go online and order a gift card for them. Give them tickets to an event you both like and maybe they’ll share the second ticket-the gift that keeps on giving.

4. Take a nap after Thanksgiving Dinner and wake up when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Thought I’d toss that in for fun.

5. Make a list before heading out the door. Nothing is more time consuming that wandering around the mall waiting for the perfect gift to jump out at you. Go through catalogs or magazines for ideas, decide what you want and buy only what’s on your list.

6. Go shopping with a friend and combine it with a massage, spa treatment, sauna or a soak in a hot tub. How fun would it be to shop for an hour or two and have a great meal or spa date afterwards!

7. Breathe……breathe…….breathe. A deep breath will help you slow down to think and make better decisions. Think about the last minute craziness before guests arrive-mind racing, bouncing from one thing to another. Stop, take a deep breath and your mind and body will automatically slow down.

8. Make the holiday meal a group event: ask guests to bring part of the meal. If you are hosting an event say up front you are providing the main dish and they can choose a side dish to bring. No need for a hostess gift then. How many candles or knick knacks do you need?

9. Schedule FUN things for yourself. While you do lots for your families and friends this time of year, don’t forget to do something for yourself-go to a movie, buy yourself a little gift, hang out with a friend, go skiing or try something you’ve always wanted to do.

10. And finally, do only the things you need to do and the things you love to do. Let go of the rest. What traditions do you love and which ones feel like chores? Going back to Tip #1,only do the number one favorites. And don’t forget your favorites as well! When you do activities you truly enjoy, you will be more energized and happy. Doing activities that feel like chores is draining and can leave you with feelings of emptiness and fatigue. That’s NOT what the holidays are supposed to be like.

The holidays have special meaning for everyone, gratitude, giving and celebration. You can’t honor those when you’re stressed out and exhausted.

Make this Holiday Season the happiest and least hectic one yet!

5 Tips To Help You De-Stress For The Holidays

Let’s face it. We all live pretty stressful lives.

With deadlines to meet; presentations to create; exams to study for; raising kids; caring for aging parents; the leaking roof or broken dishwasher that need to be repaired; the mortgage or rent that is due next week; and then there’s the technology that keeps changing faster than the speed of learning, providing us with the opportunity to constantly be on call, many of us are at the point where all it takes is one more stressor for us to collapse into a ball of emotion, or worse.

I have had the great good fortune to work with first and second year University and College students for the past twenty years and this time of the year is always the worst for stress levels for both students and faculty. Even friends and family who do not work around students are beginning to show classic symptoms of stress as the holiday’s approach – moodiness, anxiety, worry, feeling overwhelmed, fatigue, eating too much or losing their appetite. The scary thing is that the person under stress often does not even realize they are experiencing these symptoms or the extent to which they are being affected by stress.

So, before preparations for the holidays begins in earnest and stress levels begin to creep ever upward, here are 5 tips that I would like to share that can help you lower your stress levels and increase your ability to enjoy the holiday season:

1) Practice mindfulness: we often move through our days performing tasks and activities while being distracted by other things. We drive while reliving conversations or planning some future event; we have conversations with coworkers while trying to think through a solution to a work-related problem; we listen to our children tell us about their day while we are mentally going over our to-do list.

Mindfulness is the act of being present, in the moment. Of focusing on what you are currently doing without being distracted by other thoughts. For someone under stress, mindfulness involves being aware of not only the situation you are in, but of how you are reacting to that situation. Are you experiencing stress reactions of fight, flight or freeze? If yes, then how bad are these reactions? By noticing your reactions as they are happening, you can consciously choose to alleviate the stress that you are beginning to feel so the stress doesn’t continue to build.

2) Self Care: anyone who has traveled on an airplane has heard the steward’s speech about applying the oxygen mask to yourself first and then to your children – basically you are being instructed to take care of yourself first before you take care of others. The same instruction holds true in real life. If you do not have the energy to take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of anything or anyone else.

Self care is more than treating yourself to an occasional mani-peni or trip to the local spa. Self Care involves eating right, getting a bit of exercise every day, spending time on activities or hobbies that bring you joy.

Practicing Self Care can involve setting a weekly date with yourself to spend an hour a week doing exactly what you want to do – learn to swim, learn to paint, wander through nature, photograph beautiful local architecture, read, listen to music… the choice is yours as long as the activity excites you and is something you look forward to doing every week. Practice mindfulness during this hour, focus on what you are doing and how you are feeling while you are doing it – and on nothing else.

3) Identify how you want to feel and find ways to accomplish this: Identify your core desired feelings, tap into these core desired feelings and find ways and activities that honour them. Our core desired feelings are keys to understanding our true self. When we deny our core desired feelings, we are acting at odds with our true self and this can leave us feeling disconnected, frustrated, restless, stressed.

Identify how you like to feel – do you like to feel adventurous, creative, inspired, challenged, needed, etc – and then identify activities you can bring into your life right now to help you feel this way. Honouring your core desired feelings is a fun, effective way to begin to de-stress.

4) Delegate: A fourth way to begin to de-stress is to drop the need for everything to be done by you and only you. And while you are at it, you can also drop the need for everything to be perfect. If you are a solo-preneur, there are some magnificent virtual assistants who can provide you will all the support you need, without costing a small fortune. Eliminate the unnecessary, focus on what’s important, and delegate the rest.

5) Relax and have fun: Above all else, relax, have fun and be happy!! Take time to breathe, relax, and play. For most adults, play is something we stopped doing as part of the process of growing up. But play and fun can be awesome de-stressors. What did you enjoy doing for play when you were young – arts & crafts; riding a bicycle; video games; swimming; skating; reading; writing; drawing – whatever it was try it again. Or find a new activity that is playful and fun – kick through a pile of leaves, build a snowman, dance like no-one is looking, start that hobby you have always wanted to do. Tie play and fun to your core desired feelings and double the impact these activities can have on bringing joy to your life.

How do you relax and de-stress for the holidays, or anytime through the year?