"Conquering the Holidays"Balancing the normal stresses and strains of family, finances, work, health and relationships is challenging in the best of times but in our current climate it can be even tougher. Now, add in the pressures of the holidays and it’s easy to see why we need some practical strategies for navigating these inevitable December storms.


Conquering adversity at the holidays starts by reconnecting with your faith. Capitalize on the season’s spiritual roots to revisit your own. Regardless of your denomination or sense of spirituality the holidays are a time when refreshing your attendance at worship, Scripture study or taking long walks outdoors can do wonders to clear the mind and enrich the season.


In a season defined by hope and promise, there is a perfect opportunity to set your mind on positive outcomes. Forget useless New Year’s resolutions and turn your energies to something more meaningful. In business, we don’t just say, “Grow sales this year.” Instead, we layout a plan, identify resources, explore opportunities and establish timelines. Do the same with the challenges in your life – map out a way to get back on track.


Send out holiday cards this year. Real, paper cards – the kind with an envelope that go in a mailbox. Don’t send season’s greetings by email, Facebook posting, Twitter blast or any of those other ridiculous electronic texts that have become the lowest common denominator of human interaction in today’s world. Write a card. It takes a little effort but it is rewarding on so many levels and appreciated much more.


When things are tough, it is easy to stagnate, withdraw or retreat. Fight that urge and stay in motion. Accept those invitations to attend holiday gatherings even if your enthusiasm for such merriment is initially thin. The act of just going fills a void we often ignore. We are social creatures by nature so retreating into isolation during the holidays dampens a positive attitude and that makes overcoming adversity even harder.


Take a friend and do something charitable. Giving money to charity is nice but it isn’t a strategy for conquering adversity at the holidays. Giving time is; and giving time alongside a friend is even better. Volunteer to wrap packages at the mall, serve meals at a soup kitchen, read stories to a classroom of kids, ring the bell or any of countless other opportunities to serve. Doing for others helps keep your challenges in perspective and reminds you that no matter how steep your hurdles, others face far greater.


Make it whimsical. Go out of the box this year. Skip the fruitcake and send everyone a chocolate pizza instead. Put the tie back on the rack and pick up a pair of dinosaur slippers. Buy your nieces and nephews that inflatable Santa and reindeer for their yard. Life gets too serious too often so unwind it a little. Fun doesn’t need to be expensive but it needs room to breathe … so exhale.


Christopher Novak is a professional motivational speaker and author of, “Conquering Adversity: Six Strategies to Move You and Your Team Through Tough Times,” and five other leadership books (www.ConqueringAdversity-speaker.com ).

This an other seasonal articles can be found in the 2012 Holiday Gift Giving Guide  (PDF). You can also read the Flip Version .