The holidays are touted in song as being the most wonderful time of the year, but between family squabbles, travel troubles, money issues and more, it can be a very stressful time for many of us.

Mary Limas, a therapist with the Senior Life Program at Van Diest Medical Center in Webster City, says the best gift you can give yourself for Christmas is to learn some coping skills.

“Some things are out of your control and the sooner we recognize this, the better,” Limas says. “We cannot control the weather, the traffic or actions of other people. Focus on what you can control and not what you can’t.”

For all the things we can’t control, Limas says there are things over which we -do- have power, including when family and relationships are involved.

“We do have the power to control our actions and reactions,” Limas says. “We can control ourselves and how we react to things but we can’t control others’ reactions and how other people behave. By focusing on what you can control, you become not only less stressed but more empowered.”

In today’s society, we’re taught to never surrender, but in terms of holiday stress, Limas says surrender can be sweet.

“When we release resistance and welcome acceptance, we actively reduce our suffering,” Limas says. “Finding acceptance helps decrease stress and other difficult emotions while increasing feelings of liberation. So, by learning to surrender or letting go, you actually win.”

If discussion about politics during holiday gatherings brings you stress, Limas says you need to look inward.

“Some people think we can’t take charge of our thoughts, but we can,” Limas says. “The goal is to not ignore or deny the thoughts but rather see them clearly and acknowledge them, and if you need to change them, depending on if it’s positive or negative. Some people talk about how what you think is what you become and that is easily the case.”

Limas says we need to strive to enjoy the holiday season in our own ways, and not let stress be a part of it.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)