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 Weight Loss Tips – 9 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

With the holiday season comes the yearly weight gain. Parties, goodies and festivities cause us to throw our usual good sense out the window and feast on foods we wouldn’t usually eat at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 9 holiday weight loss tips to help you enjoy the season and avoid holiday weight gain at the same time.

1. Don’t plan to blow your diet. Most people resign themselves to the fact that they are going to blow their diet and gain weight during the holiday season. They’ve already decided they are going to fail before they even get started. Sit down and write out a contract with yourself. Set your expectations high and don’t allow yourself to backslide. Write out what type of reward you are going to give yourself for making progress when others are pigging out.

2. Plan to work out. Never say you will try to squeeze a workout into your schedule. It won’t happen. Schedule your workouts and stick to your schedule. They are just as important as any other appointment in your day. Scheduled workouts also help to offset a few too many treats by boosting your metabolism.

3. Set new fitness goals. Why wait until the new year? Your schedule will be just as busy later. If you want to lose fat or gain muscle then start working on it right now. A healthier you is the best present you can give yourself and your loved ones.

4. Give yourself permission to cheat. If you know there will be certain parties or holiday meals where you will be overly tempted, then schedule those meals as your cheat meals for the week. Enjoy the food without guilt and get right back on track with the very next meal.

5. Stick to your routine. Don’t eat whatever food is available just because it’s there. Stick to your eating plan unless it’s a scheduled cheat. You’ll be much happier and healthier in the long run.

6. Control your portion sizes. Too much of anything, even the healthiest food, will cause you to gain weight. If it’s just not Christmas without a certain food, then eat a small portion of that food and enjoy without guilt.

7. Don’t let others talk you in to overindulgence. Decide beforehand how many treats you are going to allow yourself at a party and stick to it. If someone tries to get you to have one more helping or one more drink, it’s perfectly acceptable to politely decline.

8. Choose foods wisely. Holidays are no different from other days with respect to the fact that you should choose your foods wisely. Take a long look at the food choices available and put only the healthiest choices on your plate. If there are no truly healthy choices available, then eat a very small serving of the most healthy option and follow it up with a healthy meal when you get home.

9. Drink alcohol in moderation only. If you drink at all, then set your limit at one or two drinks and stick to it. Alcoholic drinks are purely empty calories, so don’t feel bad about switching to non-alcoholic beverages. A diet soda or juice spritzer is a better choice than a third cocktail and you won’t have a hangover the next day either.

I hope you’ve found these holiday weight loss tips helpful. May you enjoy the beauty of the season and avoid holiday weight gain. Healthy Holidays To All!

Holiday Driving Tips

On the road again. . . It is time for a another celebration with family and friends. . . then it’s time to go home. Drivers, are you putting yourself and loved ones in danger. . .?

Safe & effective

You just stuffed yourself at a gathering of family and friends, experienced a special, intimate, food-filled gathering with loved ones, feasted at a restaurant, or partied like a rock star, now it’s time to hit the road, right?

Not so fast. . . Driving under the influence of too much food, fun, alcohol, controlled substances, or supplements can have severe consequences.

CAUTION: Do not drive immediately after you finish feasting or partying. A full stomach slows your reflexes – the same is true of alcohol and some prescription drugs – reduced driving skills. Drivers may become sleepy or fall asleep at the wheel of the car.

Timely driving solutions

Take time to let the meal digest and alcohol work its way out of the driver’s system. Using a designated driver is a good way to make it home safely after a special gathering. Find someone that is safe and sober. You may want to rotate drivers on longer trips.

Double your pleasure

Enjoy the company of loved ones a little bit longer before you hit the road. The life you save may not just be your own, but that of your traveling companions (loved ones) as well. Be safe.

Alternatives: Start the festivities early, wait an extra hour or two to let everything sink in, or spend the night if necessary.

Get active after the feast

Take a walk. Play a game of cards, charades, video games, or ping pong. Help do the dishes or that project in the basement, workshop, or garage. Toss a ball around or shoot some hoops or a friendly game or two of pool.

No one should drive under the influence of alcohol, overindulgence, or sleepiness. If the driver feels any sign of sluggishness after a brief layover then take more time. Have them take a nap. And thank your lucky stars that you did not hit the road and have an accident.

Keep the drive alive

Drivers must be prepared for each journey. The designated driver should be able to focus on driving. They should watch out for obvious in-car driving distractions such as kids, cell phones, the radio, etc. Road rage is another problem that can literally kill the outing. Relax.

Speed kills

Slow down. In the rush to get home or to the extravaganza, many accidents occur. Drive at a reasonable speed. And pay attention!

Gas up

Be sure you have plenty of gas to go the distance. Sunday, nighttime and holiday drivers may not be able to find an open gas station. I would hate to run out of gas traveling in an isolated rural area.

Note: Think driving after overeating is risky? Then avoid extreme activities such as extreme sports and hunting immediately after the feast or party. Imagine the danger of using a loaded gun with impaired reflexes. Not a happy thought.

Drive safely and enjoy the ride. Keep the memories happy ones. Give yourself and your family the chance to enjoy future celebrations together.

Happy holidays!

London – The City of Dreams

London, the capital city of England, which is located on the River Thames is a famous attraction for visitors from across the world. It is a dream destination for all the wanderers and visitors as it has the charm and elegance that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is a leading global city of the world with a large number of tourist attractions that feed your eyes with the best sights of great museums, west end shows, and interesting sites such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and much more. London has some classic elements that set it apart from every other city in the world. Being one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is a multicolored, peaceful and exciting destination. Travelers get amused by its breathtaking beauty and the charm that makes them visit the city again and again.

The major attractions of this city include the British Museum, London Bridge, Tower of London, Borough market and the famous wax museum, known as the Madam Tussauds that exhibits wax statues of the famous celebrities including Queen Diana, Bill Clifton, The Beatles and several others. Piccadly Square is yet another sight-seeing spot for the tourists, crowded with people doing various activities and grabbing the attention of the visitors. It is one of the busiest square of the world. Your trip to London can never be complete without visiting the London Aquarium, which is known to be one of the largest aquariums in the world that has many large tanks and a large variety of sharks in it. There are several other attractions such as the Hyder Park, Royal Mews, Marble Arch, St James Park and the Russel Square.

There is something for everyone in London and you’ll never feel bored during your stay or visit. It has the virtuosity to entertain and make people connected to each other. You are definitely going to lose your heart to its impeccable grace that will make you visit it more frequently. You can meet new people, talk to them, share, connect and be friends with them, no matter which religion or nationality you belong to. The aura of this city will force you to comprehend about the fact that it is surely a city of your dreams. To live your dream, you need to explore it first and you can do it by planning trip soon. Book a cheap flight to London and land to this city of dreams to experience the best city of the world.

Travel Tips – Packing Light For A Carefree Trip

Travel tips in travel books and on travel websites often advise travelers to “pack light.” In my experience, these sources of travel information don’t go far enough. If you’re a budget traveler you’re unlikely to be relying on hotel porters, taxi drivers, or other people paid to drag your luggage around. You’re more likely to be dragging it yourself – through airports, through subway systems, on and off of buses and airport shuttles, and through city streets.

It cannot be overstated that carrying too much weight around can be the difference between a fantastic, exhilarating travel experience and an exhausting one that you can’t wait to end. If your luggage is heavy, you’re mind will be more on the thought that you can’t bear to drag your luggage down one more street, than it will be on the sights and sounds of that exotic locale. My years of traveling around Europe, primarily by plane, train, bus, subway system and on foot, have taught me several things. The lighter your luggage, the lighter your heart.

Traveling light does not mean hoisting traditional suitcases. The suitcases themselves add extra weight, and suitcases are difficult to carry. I find that holding a large object by its handle, its weight hanging down off the end of my arm is the fastest route to a shoulder and backache. Traveling light also does not mean pulling a suitcase that has tiny wheels on the bottom. Spend a few minutes watching tourists attempting to keep control of that type of unstable suitcase, as they wobble and tip to one side, and you’ll see what I mean.

Traveling light does not mean carrying an over sized, bursting-at-the-seams backpack, either. Unless you plan to do some serious wilderness hiking and camping in the rough, where you’ll have zero access to shops, forget the overloaded backpack. Why lug a heavy backpack through the wilds of London when there are shops on every corner, where you can forage for everything you need?

So, what should savvy budget travelers carry, and how should they carry it? My advice is that you carry one small day-pack style backpack. It can be done, if you think before you pack, and if you make logical decisions as to what you truly can and can’t live without, and what you absolutely must transport to your destination versus what you can easily pick up once you arrive.

For example, if you regularly use a prescription medication, obviously you’ll need to carry an adequate supply with you. Carry a spare as well, and keep it on you, so that you needn’t panic if your pack gets nabbed by a thief. Be sure to also carry the prescription itself, so that you can prove that you’re really transporting a prescription medicine, if you’re stopped by customs or security personnel. It’s even better if you have a prescription that carries not only the commercial name of the medicine, but also its chemical name, in case you need to show it to a pharmacist, doctor, or customs authority, in a country where your own language isn’t spoken.

If you’re traveling to a hot, tropical location, by all means carry a bottle of sunscreen – but buy a bottle that contains the amount you expect to need for the duration of the trip. Don’t burden yourself with a jumbo size container, two thirds of which will be still be with you on the return trip. As a rule of thumb for any type of toiletries, carry (or buy upon arrival) small tubes, bottles and boxes containing just enough for the trip. Don’t drag around weight that you’ll ultimately drag back home with you, or you’ll only end up with a bottle of sunscreen that can boast to its neighbors on the medicine cabinet shelf that it’s been to Tahiti.

If two people are traveling together, whether they’re part of one family or they’re friends sharing the adventure of a lifetime, take only one set of toiletries between you. Carry separate toothbrushes, of course, but pack just one of items such as deodorant and soap and then share them. Half of your toiletry weight will have been eliminated simply by not both carrying duplicate types of items and, believe me, objects like these really contribute to the bulk and weight of your luggage.

Ask yourself if you can live without extras such as cosmetics, perfume and jewelry. Their combined mass and weight can quickly add up. Try a more natural look during your trip. It will save you daily time, as well as saving you daily strain on your arm and back muscles. As an added bonus, the less stylish and flashy you look, the less likely you’ll be to be the target of a mugger.

Forget about electrical appliances and electronic gadgets. You can live without a hairdryer or electric shaver and save not only the weight of these appliances, but also the additional burden of adapters to suit overseas outlets and electrical currents. Carry, instead, a lightweight compact plastic razor, or just let your beard grow. You may later decide that it suits you and decide to keep it ! If you plan to fly, don’t bother packing razor blades or manicure scissors. They are not allowed on planes anymore, anyway, so should be bought locally, if needed, and then properly disposed of before you fly home. I always find it practical to carry a little sewing kit for emergency repairs, but that doesn’t mean an entire kit full of colored spools of thread. It means a single needle plus one little spool of pale thread and one of dark thread together in a little bag.

Keep clothing to an absolute minimum. Stick to one basic outfit that’s comfortable, casual, and not easily wrinkled. Supplement it with a couple of extra lightweight tops and a couple of pairs of socks and underwear that can be repeatedly washed out in hotel rooms. A single sweater or sweatshirt for cool evenings and a thin plastic rain poncho and you should be set.

By sticking to one small backpack per person there are additional advantages that you’ll soon appreciate. You need never check bags at the airport and risk having them lost, you don’t need to endlessly load and unload airport or train station trolleys and count your bags to be sure that none have gone astray, plus everything is close at hand and easily accessible. By carrying just one backpack each, you’ll also look less like affluent tourists, and thus you’ll be less likely to be targeted by a pickpocket or purse snatcher as you move about city streets and in subway systems. Travel light and you can put less of a burden on your muscles, leaving you with more energy and a bigger appetite to truly experience the marvelous places that you are visiting. Travel light and you’ll be more likely to travel happy.

Vacation Packages – Tips on Getting the Best All-Inclusive Deals

The best solution to your budget constraints when it comes to going on a vacation is getting special deals like all-inclusive packages. All-inclusive may mean differently based on the kind of destination or lodging you choose. Some resorts may pertain to the rent, transportation, food and drinks. Cruises might include on-ship entertainment, and other necessities. Hotels may also interpret all-inclusive in a different way. They might include the rent, tours and meals but won’t include the transportation in going there. Before booking or making any reservations, you should always check out the necessary details of your prospective packages.

Here are tips on how to get the best deals:

1. Checking out last-minute offers. There are many websites that concentrate exclusively in this kind of package. Search online, you can type in ‘last-minute vacations,’ on the search engine and press enter. Then you will see a large list of sites where you can find such holiday trips. Always remember that reserving on the last-minute for cruises are not applicable. Generally, cruise vacations are reserved two weeks before the said departure. As for hotels and resorts, they can let you book on the day of your departure.

2. Various websites offer all-inclusive vacation packages. Look for tempting offers like 2 plus 1 deal, stay for 2 nights and get one night free. Another appealing offer that you might find is getting free spa treatments or unlimited beverage.

3. Getting a break during the off-season is also much affordable. Air companies and hotels have less number of customers after summer (July to November). You will definitely get very interesting all-inclusive rates at low-cost prices. However, travelling on July and November can only mean more rain is coming. It might be affordable but you also have to be patient with the weather. You might not enjoy it as much as you could have when its summer.

4. Always make sure you get to book a package deal. There are various travel sites online that allows you to book them altogether from renting a car, tickets and lodging like Hawaii hotels you will receive much bigger discounts than booking them separately.

5. Join reward programs. Lots of resorts offer perks for regular guests, like reduced rates for numerous stay and some even offer free nights. There are also some hotels which give out free dining packages, which can be redeemed per travel points. You might as well check out your favorite hotel and see if they have loyalty programs available and what they offer.

Holiday Weight Loss Tips – How to Lose Weight During the Holiday Season

I love the progress I have made so far to lose weight and burn off excess fat but my greatest challenge now is how to lose weight during the holiday season and not fall back and gain the weight I have successfully lost. The holiday season is usually a period of weight gain because of the overabundance of food, parties, and tempting treats as well as the increased stress and busier schedules that goes with the holidays. Here are some holiday weight loss tips to help you during the holiday season.

With the right healthy foods and some discipline, you can make it through the holiday season without adding excess weight; feel livelier, healthier and happy. The weight loss tips you will read here will help you lose weight during the holiday season and you start the New Year with your desired weight size and keep it throughout the New Year.

Tip 1: Practice eating slowly during the holiday season

The first holiday weight loss tip you should know to lose weight during the holiday season is to practice eating slowly. Most times we hurriedly eat our food during the holiday season to catch up with several appointments and events lined up for us. Do take time to slowly eat your food. Recent research showed that people who eat their food slowly are more likely to eat less than those who quickly wanted to finish their food.

Tip 2: Eat more fruits and vegetables

Some people will advice you to eat some food and avoid some food but my advice is that you should eat more to lose more. How? Eat more of low calorie food to lose weight during the holiday season. Some researchers found that overweight people who eat more of lower calorie foods lost more weight than those who simply reduce their overall calories. Eat more fruits and vegetables. One secret to lose weight successfully during the holidays is to reduce grains consumption and increase greatly on fruits and veggies. You will discover that as you eat more of fruits and veggies, the more you will crave them and the less you will eat fatty and greasy foods, the more you will lose weight.

Tip 3: Drink Oolong tea or other green tea to kill sugar cravings

Drinking oolong tea stimulates your body to burn fat for energy. Drink a cup of Oolong tea in the morning, afternoon and before bed to help stave off sugar cravings and energy slumps. Drink a cup of Oolong 30 minutes to 1 hour before your usual daily walk or workouts.

Tip 4: Discipline your self to stick to a food plan

If you want to lose weight during the holiday season, you must do a positive self-talk every day to stick to a food plan. To lose 1 pound, you must burn 3,500 calories per week. So stick to a daily calorie loss of 500 to achieve 3,500 in 7 days. By the end of the holiday season, you must have lost roughly 5 pounds minimum instead of adding more weight like other people.

Tip 5: Know the foods that make you fat

What foods make you fat? By now you should know them. There are certain foods that may cause weight gain in some people. These are trigger foods which make us to overeat. Once you identify the foods that make you gain weight, you must do everything possible to avoid them during the holiday season.

Yes. It will surprise you to know that a simple weight gain of 5 pounds during the holiday season may not seem like much for you to worry about but it could develop into a more serious health problems in the New Year if not quickly addressed. We hope this holiday weight loss tips will help you to lose weight during the holiday season.

Disneyland Vacations – 4 Steps To Booking Your Trip

Some people say “80% of your vacation is the anticipation!” Let’s get started with tese tips on booking a trip to the ‘House of the Mouse?’. If you have a particular interest in Disneyland Vacations, then this informative article will help, even before you strap on your mouse ears…

Disneyland park at Anaheim, CA in the USA is in fact one of the best theme parks in the world and booking a trip to Disneyland can itself get you into a good mood. However, like any vacation, you need to make sure that you’ve got your Trip to Disneyland planned out. Good planning will not only add to your enjoyment but will also help you in saving some money.

Here are some tips that will help you plan your Disneyland trip:

Before you book: You must make sure that Disneyland is open on all the days that you plan to visit Disneyland on. Though Disneyland is usually open on all days throughout the year, there might be times when it is closed e.g. Did you know that Disneyland was closed for one day in 2005 in preparation for their 50th anniversary celebrations?

Timing is everything: If you plan a trip to Disneyland during off-peak days, you not only get great deals on travel and accommodations, but also on the entry tickets for parks. Moreover, the rush in Disneyland is a lot less on off-peak days so you might be able to reduce the wait time for the attractions. However, some attractions and events might not be open during off-peak times. Also, the opening hours might be limited during off peak period of the year. So, check the calendar at Disneyland website and decide on the dates you want to visit Disneyland on.

Book in advance: The general rule of booking travel / vacation applies to Disneyland too. Booking your hotel and flight in advance is especially important if you are planning to travel to Disneyland from a far off location. It can really save you a lot of money.

Booking a complete package all at once: The website of Disneyland offers many ways of booking vacation packages in one shot. You can book ‘hotel + Air + tickets’ or just ‘hotel + tickets’ or just the hotel through their website http://disneyland.disney.go.com This can save a lot amount of time and hassle. However, if you want, you can book your trip through a variety of travel agents too.

There’s a lot to understand about Disneyland in California. In knowing the facts above, your trip to Disneyland will be a much more enjoyable experience, but there is still plenty more you’ll learn about in subsequent articles.

Thanksgiving Holiday Tips

Thanksgiving celebrations are usually centered around a table of wonderful food. There are always the traditional Thanksgiving dishes present and they are usually enjoyed by most of your guests. There are some guests, such as children, that may not list favorite Thanksgiving dishes on their best liked food list. For these guests, it is always wise to have some not so traditional items on your table. Along with the pumpkin and pecan pie, have a cherry, apple or chocolate pie available for your guests. Brownies also go over well, with children. Some Jell-O served beside your ambrosia dish is a good choice to add to the menu.

Have ice cream and whipped cream available for use over pies and with cakes. That adds a touch of sweet creativeness to your meal. Have some hot chocolate, ginger ale and bottled water ready to serve as alternatives for tea or coke. Some hot apple cider served can be an unique and crowd pleasing experience. With the traditional turkey or ham, have some baked chicken available, also. Sausage balls are great to serve at holiday gatherings. Along with the dressing, serve some plain white rice and baked potatoes. You can also serve a tossed salad. For those who do not want to eat rich or high fat foods, have some low fat butter, sour cream and salad dressings available. Here is another great tip. I recommend having a bag of chipped ice on hand, so you do not run out. Guests can get quite thirsty.

Another great holiday tip is to dress your table up with a colorful Thanksgiving theme table cloth. Your food will look wonderful with this holiday presentation.

For extra entertainment, you can have some traditional holiday favorite movies on hand to show your guests. In another room, you can have some holiday music playing and let this area be a conversation room. If you have some trivia games or other board games, these can be enjoyed by your guests and their children. This will help everyone to have fun.

Always have some aspirin, Tylenol, indigestion medicine, band aids and rubbing alcohol on hand, for emergency needs.

Let your guests know, as they arrive, where your bathroom is located and where the trash area is, if they are not familiar with your house. That will make them more comfortable.

Always secure any animals or pets that may cause a problem for your guests.

Be sure to child proof your home, before the guests arrive. This means securing any medicines, weapons, sharp items, tools, gasoline, matches, lighters and cigarettes.

It is also a good idea to lock your vehicles and secure any keys you may have around.

These tips will ensure that you have a wonderful and safe holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Asperger’s and the Holidays

In my private practice I’ve noticed a trend. Around November, old, current and new clients call wanting to schedule sessions to talk about one topic: the holidays. The trend is not surprising: most therapists find themselves busy at this time of year, when expectations and realities can clash, and even the most mature find themselves stuck in teenager roles and feelings long since discarded.

But for a therapist who counsels adults with Asperger’s the increase in client need may be surprising to some. Aren’t Aspies supposed to be unconcerned with the judgments of others, even family members? Don’t Aspies face holiday family time with few, if any, expectations for intimacy or fun? Don’t Aspies who find themselves alone during the holidays consider their solitude a “Get Free Out of Jail” card, rather than a reason for loneliness or depression? After all, Aspies don’t really seek out relationships, right? If any of these assumptions sound familiar to you, beware of the Aspie Stereotype, which pervades media (think “Rainman”), research teams (think “Yale”), pop culture (think SNL’s “Nick Burns: The computer Guy”) and even some therapist circles (not me!).

Contrary to popular notions regarding Asperger’s, many clinicians, those who work in the trenches with adults struggling with the challenges of Asperger’s, find their Aspie clients confused and overwhelmed by the holidays. Most of us harbor conscious or unconscious expectations about the holidays – how they should feel, who they should be spent with, how tall the tree should be, who should host dinner…the list can go on. A lack of awareness of one’s own “rules” regarding the holidays can set the stage for confusion, disappointment, impulse coping skills and depression. If you have Asperger’s, you may be surprised at your own “automatic” answers to questions such as:

Should holidays be spent with friends or family? Should loved ones exchange gifts, or not? Who should travel where for the holiday celebration? Tinsel, or lights? While these questions may seem trivial, they’re not – and often they shed light on our automatic thoughts that go unchallenged and cause problems. For instance, if your “rule” is that Christmas or Hanukkah is a commercialized money-making holiday to benefit department stores, you may refuse to participate, and thus miss genuine opportunities to connect with loved ones. If you automatically decree that holidays should be spent with family or friends, you may miss the comfort that solitude can bring you.

Please don’t fall into the trap of trying to live up to what you think “normal holidays” (an oxymoron) should be like. Holidays for Aspies are often riddled with “shoulds”, which trigger resentment and resistance. Adults with Asperger’s who give themselves permission to meet their own unique needs for togetherness and solitude, fun and rest, engagement and disengagement, often find themselves less pressured, less anxious and more accepting of themselves and others. This balanced approach can prevent total shutdown mode, which is a natural response to over stimulation and helplessness.

Here are some tips Aspies may find helpful:

Plan for taking breaks during visits. Examples are taking a walk outside, taking a nap with a book, taking some quiet time for deep breathing, taking a quick ride or offering to run an errand in the car, playing a video game with someone or alone, or announcing a time-out and removing yourself from the group.

Schedule realistically. Over scheduling during the holidays can lead to burnout when being around people is gratifying, but stressful (or just plain difficult). While it’s great to push yourself to socialize, the holidays are a time to be reasonable – don’t expect yourself to go from no parties to three or four in a month. Beware of the lure of substance use. Many of us rely on the cocktail or two to help ease party anxiety. While there may not be too much harm in this, most clinicians see a surge in substance use during the holidays, which can lead to hangovers, a shaken sense of self, embarrassment, or worse. Remember that as long as you’re using substances to quell the anxiety, you’re not truly growing in your ability to handle social situations.

Be extra kind to yourself. This sounds corny, and it is. But think about it: we spend so much time during the holidays thinking about giving to others (or avoiding it!), but how much do we think about truly giving to ourselves? This is the time to use kind words and actions to take care of yourself. Ideas include buying or checking out a new book, going to the movies alone, eating a favorite meal, spending quiet time petting the cat. Seek help if you need to. Holiday therapy can be a temporary bridge to January 2! Here’s to your success in creating a holiday this year that you can anticipate with groundedness and optimism.