Dealing with Holiday Stress

We're just a few days away from Christmas and there's a lot to do between now and then. Shopping, decorating, gift-wrapping – are you getting stressed yet? If you're a little overwhelmed, you are not alone.

The holidays really turn up our emotions and they stir up a lot of old memories. We set a lot of expectations for ourselves – some of them realistic – many of them not so realistic. So, we asked a stress expert for some ways to turn down the pressure.

When it comes to the holidays, often we get so worked up about getting everything right, we get it all wrong.

Nobody may be more stressed than moms.

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"Most of us women are in charge of the events, we're in charge of the food. And if we're hysterical, screaming crying, making lists, we're no good to anyone. We literally are the anchor. So the way that we act, or act out, this holiday season will be the way the family goes," said Kathleen Hall of the Stress Institute.

The Stress Institute's Kathleen Hall says slow down, take a deep breath, and try not to overdo it, especially with your eating and drinking.

"Remember that alcohol and sugar and caffeine all accelerate stress. So kind of be careful. So have that coffee, but you may want to do half-caf, half decaf," said Hall.

A big issue for a lot of people during the holidays is loss.

"The loss of a loved one in the past, or even the loss of a relationship. How many have gone through divorces, or your partner left? A child has left. Estrangement is massive in this country."

Hall says acknowledge someone is missing, and find a couple of people you trust to be your support network. When Hall lost someone close, she turned to her sister and her best friend to be there.

"This is going to be a very difficult time. But I knew I could text them, call them, at two in the morning, three in the morning, in the afternoon, when I was going to the mall and saw something that triggered, reminded me of that person."

Another source of stress -- having everyone back together under the same roof. Set some ground rules.

"Limit 10 minutes in the bathroom, five minute showers. For people like us that have huge families, we have a sign up sheet. No men are allowed to take sports sections into the bathroom. That's against the law."

When you're making your holiday to-do list, remember to think about not just what you need to buy, but how you can make this holiday special. Maybe you can schedule a coffee meeting with your high school friend or plan to take all the kids in the family ice skating. Those are the memories you will remember, not who got what from whom.

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