Top 10 Holiday Tips For Career Success

Every year as the holidays approach, most jobseekers and career changers make the mistake of halting all their efforts. They believe there is no point in pursuing new opportunities during the holidays, and that nobody is making hiring decisions until January, so “why bother?” Many decide to do absolutely nothing from mid-November to the second or third week in January!

Making these kinds of assumptions about the holidays is, again, a huge mistake!

When it comes to the holidays, I suggest you become a “contrarian” – and do what all the other job seekers are not doing. Since most of them are taking an extended break, this opens up real opportunities for you!

The reality is that the holidays are an excellent time to develop and create new contacts for your job search or career transition. Many companies are completing their budget planning for the next fiscal year. This is often the best time to get in front of hiring managers to create a position for you next year. Many managers have to fill openings early in the year or they may lose the budget for that position. Also, once year-end bonuses are paid, a predictable percentage of employees will leave their jobs, creating new vacancies!

Here are 10 career-savvy tips for the holidays from Ford R. Myers, President of Career Potential, LLC, an executive career consulting firm based in Radnor, PA:

1. IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

Business is all about establishing relationships – and relationships are developed in social settings! During the holidays, most people are naturally more convivial and generous in spirit. There is simply no better time to solidify existing relationships and forge new ones!

2. TUNE IN TO THE NETWORK

There are many networking events in November and December – in your social life, in your community, and in your professional circles. Think of all the companies having holiday parties. Many charities have their last fundraisers of the tax year in November and December. Book sales, holiday fairs and other celebrations make this the best time of year for productive networking!

3. SMALL TALK REAPS BIG BENEFITS

Most professional associations have a holiday party for their December meeting, with a more informal atmosphere than the formal presentations held throughout the rest of the year. Do not bring a resume to these events. Create a simple, tasteful business card with your name, phone number and e-mail address. Be prepared to make interesting small talk to establish new contacts. Ask the people you meet about themselves, their work, and their interests. Remember, everyone’s favorite subject is “themselves!”

4. CONVERSATION STARTERS AND STOPPERS

Prior to a social or networking event, prepare at least three neutral questions you can ask, such as:

* How do you know the host, the company, etc.?

* What made you decide to come to this event?

* What other organizations in this industry do you belong to?

When you find it’s time to move on and talk with someone new, you’ll need some phrases to help you transition during the event. Here are some good “exit lines:”

* I’ll let you go now, so you can continue circulating around the room.

* I’ll stop monopolizing your time so you can meet some other folks.

* It was great speaking with you. I’ll follow up as we discussed.

5. VOLUNTEER

There are more volunteer opportunities around the holidays than at any other time of year. This is a good way to help other people, feel good when you need a boost, have a renewed sense of purpose during your search, and meet other professionals. Volunteering also gives you something interesting to discuss with the new people you meet!

6. CALL PEOPLE

Use the day after Thanksgiving to make both follow-up calls and cold calls. You’ll find that whoever is at work that day will not only be available for a conversation, but will be grateful to speak to someone! If there are people who you’ve been having a hard time reaching, be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

7. SEND HOLIDAY CARDS

Pick a seasonal, nondenominational theme – usually a depiction of a winter scene is best. This is the time to send cards to everyone on your “career list,” including executive search firms, Human Resource professionals, and hiring managers with whom you have interacted over the past year. Don’t write about your job search in the card. Send your cards early enough for people to remember to invite you to their holiday get-togethers, and to send you a card in return! Be sure to include your contact information with the card, so the recipient can also reach you.

8. ‘TIS BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE

Remember the old saying popular at this time of year, “Tis better to give than to receive.” This is certainly true when you’re attempting to connect with people during the holidays. The fastest and most effective strategy for getting help is “give to get.” Ask the people in your network if you can be of help to them in any way, or if there is anyone who they might like an introduction to. Become a real “connector,” and in turn, you will become “connected!”

9. PLUG IN AND TURN ON

Technology has come a long way. Use the holidays to connect and reconnect with people on business networking web sites, such as http://www.linkedin.com, http://www.ryze.com and http://www.ecademy.com. Connect with local businesspeople in cyberspace and then take your connection “live” with a face-to-face meeting. You can also use these web sites as a great system to follow-up and keep in touch!

10. BECOME AN OPPORTUNITY MAGNET

At holiday time, some jobseekers tend to become overly negative or cynical during what they perceive as a “lull” in their career transition. Don’t fall into this trap. Get into positive action precisely when others are “giving up” until early next year. Think and speak positively, and you’ll become a magnet – ready to attract, interview, and “hire” your next employer.

If you’re currently in career transition or looking to move-up at your organization, these strategies should give you a new perspective on the holidays! Instead of “taking a vacation” from your career development activities, take full advantage of this overlooked opportunity to make real progress in your quest. Then, you’ll really have something to celebrate!

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Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2006, Ford R. Myers and Career Potential, LLC.

Holiday Eating Anxieties for Bariatric Patients

Most Bariatric Surgery Patients experience a wide range of Holiday eating anxieties which can actually ruin a perfectly good Holiday around friends and family.

Prior to surgery, Holidays meant family, friends, and lots of food to indulge in and enjoy – often at a glutinous rate simply because Holiday foods are “special” because they are only provided during the season and they are prepared so carefully which adds guilt if you don’t partake of it.

How many times do you hear these phrases said at a Holiday gathering?

“That’s ALL you’re going to have? I worked so hard on that dish…”

“You better eat this now, because it won’t be here for another year….”

“It will hurt my feelings if you don’t eat this…..”

“These are very special ingredients I ordered specifically for this dish…”

“You can’t be NOT HUNGRY… it’s a Holiday!”

“Just ONE LITTLE BITE, PLEEEEEZEEEEZ…..”

“Have more, there’s plenty…”

“Take some of this home with you if you’re not going to eat it now…”

“Oh nonsense! You’re allowed to eat a lot today!”

“You should have worn your FAT PANTS to gorge yourself like the rest of us…”

OH, how this list could fill a book, right? Such comments add enough stress to non-surgery individuals who carefully watch their weight, let alone those who have had the Bariatric surgery and have to be careful what they eat, how much they eat, and how often they eat. So you are NOT ALONE in feeling some anxiety about being around all of the special food at gatherings this season.

I’d like to offer some suggestions that have worked for me and others during this most stressful time when Holidays equates to special foods and the pressure to partake in them is way too much out of hand at times.

1. Prepare you mind for the event: Reflect on past Holiday experiences and evaluate what lies ahead this year for you. Have it in your mind what you will say and do when those food-pushers taunt you or down-right threaten you to eat during the “special occasion.

2. Anticipate the food: Reflect on past Holiday foods that are always provided to you within your social circle. Predetermine what you WILL eat and what you WON’T eat. Making a decision ahead of time will curb your gut-reaction to “cave in” to the urgings by others to eat what you shouldn’t eat.

3. Never try anything new at the party: Not knowing how you will react to the food carries the high risk of making you ill and calling for you quick retreat to the bathroom or feeling sick for an hour or so. This will draw attention to you, which is something you don’t’ want. The host and guest will feel badly for you, so don’t put them or you in such a situation. Only eat things that you are absolutely certain that you can tolerate.

4. Take baby-bites of the “special” foods: Literally, take a baby-bite if you absolutely must partake of foods strictly for the social expectations. If it’s too much for a baby’s mouth, then you’re putting too much on the spoon or fork.

5. No-Guilt in Tossing it: In a social event where you don’t’ want attention drawn to how little you are eating, take a small plate with small portions of food, then take small bites of each item, then TOSS the rest away when no one is looking. This gives the appearance that you’re “normal” and all will assume you have gotten your fill. This spares hurting the feelings of Great Aunt Gerdie who truly does cry if you refuse her special 60%-sugar/90%-fat/carb-loaded/stroke-on-a-plate pie. Tossing out the unwanted uneaten portions is just a “different” way of consuming… so don’t’ feel guilty about it. All that matters is that Great Aunt Gerdie delights in seeing her pie disappearing.

6. Eat healthy before you go and bring your own essentials: Never go to a Holiday party hungry… NEVER! This is self-sabotage in the worst way! Enough said? Take along your own treats and drinks that are RNY-Friendly to you. Don’t request an extra effort on your host. You know what you need, so take it with you. While they are eating pies and cakes, you can have the sugar-free fudge sickles you brought along or those sugar-free pudding cups. And if they are serving only sodas or alcohol and you cant’ do them, bring your own herbal teas or no-sugar-added hot chocolate packets. This will make you, the host, and the guests feel comfortable and nobody will feel that you are “suffering” as they eat your NO-NO’s.

7. Talk more than you eat: The Holidays should be about PEOPLE, not food. So be social. Focus on the people; laugh with them, tell stories, listen to their tall tales, play games, etc. If you do these things, you’ll be amazed at how well the gathering will go for you simply because you didn’t focus on food. And when the food-pushers come along, just glance by them off into the distance and make your exit because you “want to talk to so-n-so or your cell phone is vibrating and you’ve got to excuse yourself for the call…. Perfectly acceptable to have a pre-planned “way out” when you need one.

8. Change the food-subject: Others may want to cry boo-hoo with you if you keep telling them of all the foods you’re missing out on this year. Don’t do that! Rather than mourn the loss of your favorite Holiday treats, brag on the fact that you’re feeling so much healthier, your clothes are getting baggier, and you’re dreaming again of all the great things that are in store for you now that you are slimming down. Don’t’ allow anyone to pity you for not eating like you used to eat.

9. Wear a “knock-out” outfit: WOW them all this Holiday season by wearing a special outfit that you feel very proud to be seen in. The food isn’t special to you anymore… you’ve swapped that for the special outfits you can now wear! Let people whisper to each other how great you look rather than how little you are eating. The stress of not eating so much will be far away to you when you feel good about yourself and look good too.

10. Make your visit brief: if you are getting too much pressure from others or are experiencing too many anxieties, let leave the gathering earlier than you originally planned. Maybe you’re tired, the roads are getting bad, you realized you need to do something… remember that “pre-planned” escape should be there for you if you need it.

I can attest that these are tactics that I’ve used and STILL use in social gatherings when it is expected to eat special foods during special times. Granted, I am three years post-op, so my anxieties are not as high as they once were… but they certainly threatened my Holiday happiness not too long ago!

Remember this most of all…. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the less you’ll feel nervous about those awful Holiday Eating Anxieties. Now go have fun!

Tropical Island Vacation Advice

Tropical Islands are one of the famous holiday destinations. The beauty of these islands, the pleasant calm weather and the fun activities it offers, attract every person who is looking for a peaceful living. They are good for family vacations or complete getaway vacations. Many honeymooners and couples choose these islands for romantic getaways.

The most soothing elements of nature are found at the tropical islands. That’s why, People who are sick and tired of their urban lives choose to relax and renew themselves here.

The amazing fresh air, fresh vegetables and fruits, clean environment are miraculously healing and relaxing for the human mind and human body. Besides the natural beauty of the island, the most developed spas and massage centres are located on the tropical islands. For some people it’s just the sound undisturbed naps on the islands that heal and refresh them completely. Therefore tropical island vacations are so refreshing and relaxing.

While going and planning Tropical vacation one needs to consider many things like health, safety, budget, convenience etc. Following are suggestions and advice for a truly amazing and stress free tropical vacation.

1. Plan in Advance:

It is important that one plan early as travel arrangements and bookings have to be made. If planning for Tropical Island Vacation with the family, one should inform every member of the family in advance to ensure everyone’s availability. Children and parents should decide and make the vacation plan together.
Planning in advance is also important to make sure that hotel rooms are available, to do proper research, make reservations and important bookings and to avoid any problem at eleventh hour. To really enjoy the trip, the duration of the vacations should be at least more than a week.

2. Decide And Choose According To Budget:

For a stress free vacation, one should be plan a holiday friendly budget. One should also consider some extra expenses. Some hotels charge more and there are many hidden charges as well. One should do proper search and also consider several alternatives when deciding what service to avail.

One should also make a good search for different holiday deals. A travel agency can also design a vacation or travel package according to your budget and requirements.

3. Packing for Tropical Island vacation:

For a Tropical Island vacation, you would need a little extra packing. The packing should be started a few days prior to leaving. One should pack important stuff like first aid kit and pain relief medication etc. The tropical islands are a part of the developed world. Most tropical islands provide you with all the basic and luxurious amenities so one is not required to pack everything.

4. Involving Friendly Locals:

A good way to ensure you do not miss anything worth seeing or visiting, you should hire a guide or friendly local volunteers to show you the place around.

5. Important contacts:

Another important advice for the Tropical Island Vacation is to have all the necessary contact information to make the tour safe and hassle-free. The important contacts one must include are tour operator (travel agency), local cab company, local emergency responders, your doctor etc.

6. Language:

When visiting a tropical island where English is not spoken, it is advisable that you should know a few words and important phrases of the local language. One should keep a notebook where all the important keywords and phrases are written in the local language. These phrases and keywords include Help, I need the police, stop, I need a doctor, hospital, I had an accident, I need cab, I need English translator etc.

It is very helpful to do a lot of research before visiting a place. One should do research as well as talk to the people, to have the best idea of what one might need or face on a Tropical Island Vacation.

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 Travel Tips

If you’re going away for the holidays this year, you’re probably unhappily anticipating a hike in gas prices, long lines at airport security and delays all-around. According to the Bureau of Transportation, Thanksgiving and the winter holiday season are the busiest long-distance travel times in a given year. While travelers cannot avoid hefty waits at check-in and traffic on the highway, there are plenty of measures to take in order to alleviate any holiday season travel stress.

• Know when to travel: For local excursions, people tend to leave on Thursdays. If traveling over 100 miles away, Wednesday through Sunday are the most popular days.

• About 90% of Thanksgiving travel is through one’s vehicle.

• The Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving are the busiest days to travel back home. If you book a flight or drive on Tuesday, you’ll avoid a lot of traffic.

• Weather delays don’t always depend on where you’re flying out of. If you live in Florida but are flying to New York, you may experience delays due to a snowstorm, for example.

• Allow ample time to check in at the airport and make it through security. More travelers means more time to wait as each individual is screened.

• Travel on Saturday as opposed to Sunday. Most people want to make it back for work without sacrificing any weekend time.

• The average age of Thanksgiving travelers is just under 34, as opposed to right above 36 for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, according to the BTS.

• Preview airport restrictions and laws implemented for safe air travel…you cannot avoid them and will save a world of time if you plan ahead.

• Book a trip off-season. For example, go to New England when the leaves aren’t changing…you’ll save on local bed and breakfasts, whose popularity heightens during the fall.

• Consider booking through an online travel agency. You can find new discounts and sales each day, as well as vacation packages unavailable elsewhere.

The best discount travel online can be found through sites such as Orbitz and Expedia, according to StarReviews. If you’re an avid planner, you’ll be able to customize your own trip homepage, complete with photos, video and comments through Orbitz’s TripHub.

If you’re like most travelers, saving money is important when going away during the holidays. When booking through Travelocity, you can save just by using a particular credit card. Before the cold weather arrives, consider booking travel online and taking advantages of discount flights and destination-stays.

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.

10 Family Friendly Travel Tips

Traveling with the family can be a nightmare. Not only is family travel expensive if you can’t find affordable airline tickets, it’s also a huge inconvenience for you and for your fellow travelers. The key to a smooth travel experience is to plan ahead and prepare, as much as possible, for the unexpected.

1. Book non-stop flights. Although you may not be able to find non-stop flights with cheap airline tickets, avoiding extra time in the airport during layovers and the possibility of delays or cancellations is hugely beneficial when you’re traveling with family. Plus you’ll never have to wake a sleeping baby. It can never hurt, however, to check discount airfare sites for the most affordable non-stop airline tickets.

2. Pack your child’s travel carry-on with a surprise. Stuff you kids backpack full of new toys, games, and activities. Or, you may even want to consider wrapping a few old items like a present. You’d be surprised how exciting an old toy can become after it’s pulled out of new wrapping paper.

3. Schedule extra time. Whether you’re traveling with discount airfare or with full-priced airline tickets in hand, every traveler has to go through the same check-in and security routine. Always build in plenty of time for check in and connecting flights; everything takes twice as long and is twice as complicated when you’re traveling with children. Don’t forget to double check that TSA prohibited items list before heading to the airport for updates on carry-on or checked items to avoid delays at the security gate.

4. Reserve seats in advance. Eliminating any unpredictability when traveling with your family is a plus. When buying your airline tickets always check to see if you can secure your seat assignments in ahead of time. Consider booking your family’s seats all together, splitting up the family if traveling with another adult to avoid in-flight sibling feuds, or trying to find aisle seats for easy maneuvering. Also, even if you booked advanced seating, ask at the gate if the flight is full; you may be able to request a vacant seat between you and a fellow passenger.

5. Check flight restrictions when booking. Cheap flights can sometimes come with hidden restrictions such as strict cabin baggage weight limits or fees for checking strollers.

6. Test your stamina in advance. You may be able to benefit from cheap airfare by paying for one less child if you can handle having your child sit on your lap in a chair at home for the length of your flight.

7. Schedule flights during sleep time. Use discount airfare to try to find cheap airline tickets around the time your child normally naps. Also consider booking redeye flights; not only will you find cheap airfare, you may be able to benefit from having you child sleep through a nighttime flight.

8. Board first or last. You receive the same boarding privileges with cheap airline tickets as you do with regular-priced tickets: when traveling with children you’ll have the option of boarding first. Early boarding can be convenient because it allows you extra time to get situated; however, boarding last will cut down on the time your kids have to wait on the plane.

9. Beware of bulkhead seats. What you gain in legroom with bulkhead seats you’ll lack in under-the-seat storage, which is even more valuable when traveling with children. Also these seats often lack armrests, preventing your child from comfortably cuddling with you.

10. Check your luggage. You already have plenty to keep track of when you’re traveling with family – multiple little ones, tickets, IDs, bags – but you can eliminate unnecessary hassle when you check your bags. Think of it this way: what you save on discount airfare you can put toward the extra fees airlines may charge you for checking bags.

Anticipatory Grief and Holidays: 12 Survival Tips

Anticipatory grief – a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs – is a hard journey. Holidays make it even harder. At a time when you’re supposed to feel happy and joyful, you feel sad and anxious. You’re on pins and needles and wonder what will happen next.

Remember, your grief stems from love, and you may find comfort in that. Holidays don’t erase your reasons for feeling sad and lonely, according to the National Mental Health Association, and “there is room for these feelings to be present.” So accept your feelings and, if you feel like crying, go ahead and do it.

Crying will help you to feel better. Here are some other ways you can help yourself.

BE REALISTIC. You don’t have to create a “perfect” holiday. Do you really need to knit sweaters for everyone? No. Do you really need to serve a six course meal? No. What you need to do is set realistic goals, get organized, and pace yourself. Rather than focusing on one day, the National Mental Health Association recommends focusing on “a season of holiday sentiment.”

ASK FOR HELP. You don’t need to do everything yourself. Family members and friends will be glad to help with planning, decorating, and cooking. One family member could bring a traditional dish, such as pumpkin pie. Another family member could provide linens and launder them afterwards. Your request for help makes others feel needed.

BUDGET. Finances can cause stress at any time, but they cause lots of stress during the holidays. Set a budget for gifts, decorations, and entertaining. Staying within your budget will make you feel better about the holidays and yourself. Your gifts don’t have to be new. Holiays are a perfect time to pass along family possessions – a flower vase, historic photo, or beloved book. Stick a short note about the item in with your gift.

EAT RIGHT. Because nutrition affects brain chemistry, you need to eat balanced meals during the holidays. Yummy as they look, pass up the candy and cookies that come your way. Choose lots of fruits and veggies from the buffet table and one dessert. Keeping a supply of healthy snacks on hand will also help you to eat right.

DRINK MODERATELY. Alcohol makes the holiday blues worse, according to the National Mental Health Association. Too much alcohol can cause you to say things you’ll regret later. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation or skip it all together. Drink sparkling cider, non-alcoholic punch, or flavored water instead of alcohol.

GET ENOUGH SLEEP. You’ve probably thinking, “Yeah, right.” But you need sleep to survive the holidays. Getting enough sleep is hard to do with so many holiday events going on. However, you may be selective about what you attend, leave early, and get a good night’s sleep. Balance a late night with a short nap the next day.

LIGHT YOUR WAY. Vanerbilt University wellness experts say more people get depressed during the holidays than at any other time. Some of these people have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you live in a cold climate and the days are short you may wish to be evaluated for SAD. Phototherapy (intense lighting) is usually recommended for those with SAD. Even if you don’ have SAD well lit rooms will lift your spirits.

EXERCISE. Daily physical activity is a proven way to cope with stress. Walk around town or the local mall and look at holiday decorations. Play catch with your kids or grandkids. Bundle up and go cross country skiing. A half hour of physical activity per day helps to chase the blues away.

BE CONCILATORY. According to http://www.MayoClinic.com family tensions may flare during the holidays if members are “thrust together for several days.” Holidays aren’t the time to settle family disputes, they’re a time for concilatory and kind behavior. Discuss family grievances at a later date.

HELP OTHERS. Holidays are associated with families and togetherness according to Jill RachBeisel, MD, Director of Community Psychiatry at the University of Maryland. But, due to the divorce rate and fragmented families, many don’t have this kind of holiay experience. Still, you may connect with a substitute family by volunteering a a senior center, reading to shut-ins, or tutoring children.

MAKE NEW MEMORIES. The memories you make during this holiday season may comfort you in the future. Take digital photos of holiday events and put them on a CD. Send copies of the CD to all family members. Every family has stories to tell and you may create new memories by tape recording some of these stories. You may also videotape holiday events.

SAVOR THE MOMENT. Though you are sorrowful, you’re alive, able to be with those you love and care about. Surround yourself with life: family members, dear friends, colorful flowers, a tail-wagging dog, and hobbies that make you happy. For every moment of life – even the sorrowful ones – is a miracle.

Copyright 2005 by Harriet Hodgson. To learn more about her work go to http://www.harriethodgson.com

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.

6 Tips For Spending Wisely This Holiday Season

When holiday music is piped into malls and festive themes accompany some hard-to-miss sales, it’s no wonder people are compelled to overspend during the holidays. Here are six helpful tips to keep help keep your holiday spending in check this season.

1. Start with a list. Even Santa knows it’s wise to make a list (and check it twice!) in preparation for the gift-giving season. Make a list with everyone you plan to buy for. Be sure to include family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and anyone else in your life you would like to remember with a gift. Next, set a budget to guide your purchases. If the math doesn’t add up-you have too many gifts to buy and not enough money to go around-pare down your list or reduce the amount you can spend on each person.

2. Comparison shop. Your holiday dollars will go further if you do your homework before pulling out your wallet. Online price comparison engines can help you identify where to find the best deals. Shopping online can be a real time-saver, too, but be mindful of shipping charges. You’ll also want to watch for upcoming holiday sales and plan your shopping excursions accordingly. Black Friday is not the only time you can find deals during the season.

3. Avoid overspending on a credit card. Naturally, credit cards offer the convenience of buying now and paying later. The “pay later” scenario only works in your favor if you’re able to zero out your balance before the next billing cycle. If you don’t pay down your charges for months on end, interest accrues and suddenly that $30 gift has snowballed into an unwieldy sum. If you need to rely on credit to spread the cost of holiday purchases over a few months, factor in estimated interest charges when you make your budget. Or better yet, avoid the credit trap altogether by spending within your means.

4. Keep your savings on track. Saving should be a regular part of your monthly budget. If you’ve worked with a financial advisor before, stick to your savings plan instead of putting your financial future on hold. If you haven’t worked with a financial professional before and don’t yet have a plan for growing your nest egg, give yourself the gift of financial advice this year. A qualified financial advisor can identify strategies to help you achieve your financial goals.

5. Give sentimental gifts that don’t cost much. When you’re in stores, it’s easy to get distracted and start to ignore your budget. Don’t buy into the notion that the price tag of a gift indicates its ultimate value. The best gifts are not necessarily the most expensive. In many cases, a thoughtful, sentimental gift can mean as much or more than an expensive object.

6. Remember to put people first. In our consumer-centric society, it’s easy to get carried away with material things. It’s important to stay focused on what truly matters about the season-spending time with the people who mean the most to you. It doesn’t cost anything to take some time away from the hustle and bustle and savor the special moments that come with the holidays.