As the chill of Autumn arrives, we know that busy times are ahead -- complete with ghosts and goblins, turkey trots, Christmas, Hanukah, New Year's and other beautiful celebrations fast approaching.

Along with the bustle of excitement often come stress, worry, exhaustion, and over-load, especially for women and moms. We seem to take on a heavy load, usually from an intention of creating beautiful, special, and lasting memories for our families and friends. No one sets out to be stressed during the holidays; it just happens. Or does it? I believe we can do something about this holiday-time stress...it doesn't always have to be this way.

So, what can we do to enjoy ourselves more, feel less frenetic and exhausted, yet still create beauty, celebration, and excitement in our lives, and the lives of our families?

Here are a few tips that have helped me and others get on--and stay on--a path of holiday joy without the hysteria. The overall theme is: Say Yes! to what matters most to you and your family, and Let Go of what isn't working or joyful.

Holiday De-Stressing Tips:
1. Forget about attaining holiday perfection - go for fun, joy with family and friends, and creating memories of laughter and love. Often we look at pictures in magazines or images on TV and film of holiday bliss, and believe we have to imitate the beauty and the magic portrayed there. Well, there's a reason that it's on TV or in magazines! These are shots that have been posed, set up, methodically and artistically planned and constructed by a staff, etc. You don' t have to replicate what the media portrays as holiday charm and beauty. Do and create what gives you and your family pleasure to do.

2. Focus on holiday traditions that your family loves most, and let go of the rest. We truly don't have time in the day to do everything - we have to be selective and create lasting, fun traditions that define who we uniquely are as individuals and as a family. If baking holiday cookies simply does you in, then let it go! Buy the cookies at the store, and perhaps have your kids decorate them, on their own, with all the fun of messing it up and making a mess! But make sure they do their own clean up.

3. Remember, it's not your job alone to create your family's holiday experience. Get help, and lots of it, from friends, your spouse, relatives, significant others, your children. Moms tend to believe that they're in it alone in making the holidays wonderful. Not so. Empowering others in the family to pitch in and do, create, plan (and clean up!), is great for you, and even better for them.

4. Separate the "shoulds" from the wants. So often in life, we fail to differentiate between what we feel we "should" do versus what we want to do. This chronic adherence to "should," especially around the holidays, leaves us empty, resentful, angry, and exhausted. Our "shoulds" often emerge from our childhood experiences and relate to beliefs we've carried about what we need to do to keep our families and friends happy, based on what our mothers did. Now's the time to stop "shoulding" and start doing what you feel in your heart would be fun and meaningful. As we walk away from "should," we break through to a more authentic way of being. This allows us to break free of emulating a past picture that no longer resembles who we have become.

5. Finally, let go of what hasn't worked. A very wise man once said "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity." If something hasn't worked in the past, don't repeat it. If going to your aunt and uncle's house for Christmas each year has always been a disaster, make new plans! If New Year's in Jamaica is what would ring your bell, then make a plan and make it happen. If it's not possible to move completely away from the experience that isn't working, make a small but conscious shift...empowered shifts can create miracles!

Don’t wait…please take steps now to empower yourself and your family to jointly create fun and meaningful traditions and experiences for the holidays. It's never too late to have what you want, the way you truly want it.

Wishing you a joyful time of new, restorative traditions!

Author's Bio: 

Kathy Caprino, MA is a life and professional coach, researcher, author and speaker specializing in helping midlife professionals navigate successfully through major crossroads to reclaim the direction of their lives for greater passion, joy, and fulfillment.

She is the author of the forthcoming book tentatively titled Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman's Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose (Berrett-Koehler, Fall 2008). She is a frequent speaker and seminar leader to professional women at corporations, women's events and conferences, and helps individuals step up to pursue their true passions in life and work.