The holidays can represent the most joyous and spiritual time of the year. They can also be the most stressful and unhappy. How can we enjoy the holidays and maintain our balance?

We all have our own expectations of what the holidays should bring. And as that special day draws closer, the excitement builds. So does the stress. Did we buy enough presents? Did we spend enough money? Are the presents we bought good enough? How will we ever get them all wrapped, the cards mailed out, and the decorations put up?

It all seems very overwhelming. But maybe, in truth, we are doing too much. Is it really necessary to spend all our savings on presents? Is it really prudent to run up the credit cards and spend the rest of the year paying them off? The long-term consequences of our holiday actions can be just as stressful as the holiday itself. Sometimes it is better if everyone agrees to celebrate Christmas in a more spiritual way and to forego the abundance of gifts. This can be very liberating for everyone involved, for everyone feels the economic pressure at Christmas.

This year, try to keep things simple. Spend less, do less, and share more of the responsibility with others.

Decorating the Christmas tree, putting up lights, and decorating the house are family events which should provide the opportunity to share special moments with one another. It should be fun -- not an annual chore.

Writing out Christmas cards can be done in quiet moments when the kids are asleep. Sometimes, this is the only communication we have with distant friends and relatives.

Show gratitude for blessings received during the year by donating to charity. Ask other people to make a donation to charity instead of buying a gift. In this way, the gift benefits more people.

Simplify expectations. Don't expect everything to be perfect or to run smoothly. Don't expect to receive the most expensive gifts or the greatest number of gifts. Don't expect anything at all. Go with the flow. Find inner peace rather than outer chaos.

Seek to serve others during the holiday season. Concentrate on family bonding and growing closer to God. Enjoy the peace of Christmas and extend it to others by offering tolerance and forgiveness.

Christmas can be a dreaded stressful event or a wonderful opportunity to bring peace into your life. Simplify. Relax. Enjoy the spirit of the holiday.

Merry Christmas!

Author's Bio: 

Dawn Pisturino is a licensed Registered Nurse in Arizona with a B.S. in Natural Health. Her articles have appeared in several local newspapers, including "The Kingman Daily Miner." Her "Cosmic Health Blog" (http://cosmichealth.blogspot.com) is devoted to health and wellness.