Are you a mess due to holiday stress?

Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, Joy to the World -- all great Christmas songs that invoke a positive and upbeat spirit around the holidays. Kids sing these Christmas carols at school and adults hum their favorite holiday tunes in the car, around the house, and even at work.

Sounds nice doesn't it? For some, this is a reality. For others, the holidays are a big ball of stress that leaves them with a bah humbug attitude.

The materialism of Christmas creates pressure for those who have little or no money to produce gifts with high price tags on Dec. 25. Maybe for some, it's not the quality but the quantity that's pulling them down. They have so many people to buy gifts for that it's become overwhelming to them.

You take a trip to the mall and the crowds of people that meet you there are less than friendly, as they practically knock you over trying to get the perfect deal on the perfect gift. So you decide to get out of the way and go get a cup of coffee. What is this? The Starbucks line is out the door and you're number 20 in line. No exhale moment there so you leave frustrated, disappointed and stressed.

So, what can you do to alleviate this holiday-induced illness? Why not volunteer an hour or two to someone in need. There are so many non-profit organizations that would love to have volunteers to assist them in their community programs. You could volunteer at a senior center, a youth center, a soup kitchen, etc. There are so many places in Northeast Ohio that could use your services.

What you may not realize is that giving that hour or two of your life to help someone else have a brighter day will also brighten your day. It's the gift of giving. You go into it thinking you really don't have the time and you have a million other things you need to do, but you come out of it feeling like you have made a difference. There's no price tag on that. It's simply priceless.

So don't let the holiday mess stress you. Take control of your situation and help someone with a smile, a good deed, a hug, a listening ear and a kind heart. What a wonderful gift! And yes, once you've done that, the stores with the crowds of people will still be there, but you will be different. Your perspective would have changed and you will handle your emotions much better.

Remember, it's the thought that counts. It's the spirit behind the gift that leaves a lasting impression. And don't forget to check in on friends who may have lost a family member this year. Just a note or phone call to say you're thinking of them during this time goes a long way.

The more acts of kindness you initiate towards others, the better you begin to feel about yourself and what this season is really all about.

So, no more bah humbug attitude. It's time for you to say and believe "Peace on earth good will towards men."

Now you can exhale and enjoy this beautiful Christmas season.

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