Ho-Ho-Hold the Stress

Ho-Ho-Hold the Stress

Seasonal suicide is much discussed this time of year. But unless you're an 85-year-old geezer, the numbers say you won't entertain such scary thoughts. But you most definitely will lose your patience, composure, and mind.

On the off chance you hit a wall, steal Granny's Rascal, and attempt to drive it into oncoming traffic during this massive holiday pressure cooker, we've whipped up 58 tips that not only guarantee you'll keep your waistline, schedule, temper, and sanity in check, but will also help you thrive along the way.

58 - Preplan for pain.
Before drinking, down some acidophilus (it's in yogurt and in supplements from health-food stores); the bacteria speeds digestion, dissipates alcohol, and may lessen a hangover.

57 - Talk it out.
"If there is conflict, confront the person in private. Don't be mad. Be clear. Let them know what you want," says business coach Barbara Pachter. Beatings, sad to say, are frowned upon.

56 - Sneak attack.
Some problems can be prevented before they start. To keep Uncle Maurice sober and sane, schedule dinner early, serve no liquor or limit it to wine. Or have this year's holiday dinner at a restaurant— where you can exit at any moment.

55 - Deputize a store employee.
"Grab a salesperson and tell him what you need," says the National Retail Federation's Daniel Butler. "That way, you get free advice and don't waste your time."

54 - Shut it out.
Bose's newest block-out-the-noise headset, the QuietComfort 2, comes with an airplane adaptor plug and folds flat for easy travel. Pop 'em on and acquaint yourself with the sound of silence—or the sounds on your MP3 player ($299; bose.com).

53 - Take tea.
After 2 p.m., instead of drinking caffeine-laden jolts of cappuccino or coffee, sip non-caffeinated tea with a calming herb such as valerian root.

52 - Try the Jabra BT200 wireless cell-phone headset.
This feather-light, .8-oz headset hangs behind the ear to help make sure you won't crash as you ride, skate, drive your car, or operate heavy machinery (from $100; jabra.com).

51 - Size her up.
Like most men, you probably have no idea what sizes she wears, so check out her wardrobe before buying her the latest fashions from Paris and Milan. Oh, and make sure you err on the small side; it's called flattery. And motivation.

50 - Remember the kneady.
Most major airports sport at least one full- service spa or massage center these days. Be a wise traveler: Get a tension-easing chair massage while you wait for that delayed flight (average rate: $25 for 30 minutes).

49 - Let 'em buy their own.
Check out electronic gift cards from major credit-card companies and retailers. If your mom loves Target—and whose doesn't— get her a Target gift card. She'll probably use it to buy stuff for you.

48 - Step up to the plate.
Not that one. The Power Plate. Actually, you stand on it. At 30–50 vibrations per second, the ingenious Power Plate stimulates your muscle fibers, preventing inactivity-caused detraining while also calming your nerves. Sure, you'll take a hit in the old wallet—it's almost 10K—but c'mon: Your health doesn't have a price tag ($9,995; powerplateusa.com).

47 - Follow the leaders.
Notice what the leaders of your company are doing and not doing at parties. Mirror their behavior as those big shots float around the room. Notice what they talk about, how they are dressed, and learn to imitate their style.

46 - Go straight to the gate.
Web check-in is de rigueur at a handful of airlines, including Continental, Northwest, United, AirTran, and US Airways. Buy an e-ticket, and you can check in from your home or office computer up to 30 hours before takeoff. Print your boarding pass, check your bags curbside, and head straight to the bar.


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