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Stressed out about shopping this holiday?

December 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The airwaves and newspapers are filled with toys and jewelry ads. When your kids scream, 'I want that,' what should you say? And how do you deal with those feelings of guilt? Experts say look at the bright side. The recession offers an opportunity to remind our kids and ourselves about what the holidays are really about.It's supposed to be the time of year you go all out, but for many this holiday season is all about making ends meet and paring down.

"I'm trying to change my attitude with it. I am doing the best I can so I am finding smaller ways to give," said shopper Lindsey Hallwood.

Psychologist Joseph Glaser says he's hearing a lot of people say they're feeling the pressure to give when they just can't.

"People in general are experiencing this because the recession has gone on for a long time and we're being told this could be a jobless recovery," said Dr. Glaser.

Dr. Glaser says the guilt we often feel has to do with the external pressure we feel from marketing and the internal pressure we put ourselves through.

"We like to give people what makes them happy, what they enjoy and what they like," said Dr. Glaser. "It's hard for us sometimes to accept without feeling guilt, the internal pressure to deal with and simply say this is what we can realistically do."

Dr. Glaser says talk to family members and true friends honestly. They'll understand and won't want you to go any further into debt. And don't ever feel the need to match or outdo anyone when it comes to gift giving.

"These are very difficult financial times and you're not going to be able to reciprocate on an equal basis to someone who is doing better," said Dr. Glaser.

Tell people ahead of time, especially children, that holiday presents are going to be different this year. This can alleviate the pressure.

Remember gifts of your time and talents are often more meaningful.

"I think it's all about adjusting, being resilient, and coming back and doing the best you can and giving from the heart," said Hallwood.

And Dr. Glaser offers more advice to help you alleviate holiday pressure -- lower your expectations. It's OK if you don't have the perfect tree or the perfectly decorations, and at your office or family gathering suggest drawing names to help limit gift giving.

The following organizations are helping families out this holiday season:

MEND
Contact: Marianne Haver-Hill
(818) 896-0246

Foothill Unity Center
Contact: Joan Whitenack
(626) 358-3486

Department of Children and Family Services
Contact: Susan Jackubowski
(213) 351-5872


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