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Tips on handling stress during the holidays

November 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Pressure to buy, high expectations and the economy can all contribute to anxious feelings during the holidays.

Marriage and family therapist John Tsilimparis says the pressure people put on themselves combined with a depressed economy can sometimes equal a big holiday let down.

"It's easy to fall into the trappings of comparing past holidays where things were plentiful and things were fun to current holidays, which maybe they aren't," he said. "I always say, when you compare, you despair," he says.

Tsilimparis says don't compare. Learn to adapt to the new economic reality. Your loved ones should be able to relate.

"With the economy being so depressed, you friends and family are going to understand," Tsilimparis says. "If they don't understand you, I always say maybe you need to reevaluate that relationship."

During the holidays, Alice Korman tells her family not to give her presents. She says she doesn't need any more stuff.

"We have to kind of change our values in terms of what we get kids," said the grandmother. "At least now in our family now that we're older and we don't need things, we always suggest to give money to charity in our names."

It's that kind of gift that helps put meaning back into the holidays, which experts say will help you feel good about gift giving, too.

So don't let that pressure to buy presents outshine what the holidays are really about. Keep it simple. Keep it small.

"Set up a budget for yourself, a realistic budget, about how much you can and are willing to spend, and stick to it," Tsilimparis says.

A new Consumer Reports poll revealed that 35 million Americans despise having to be nice during this time. The majority said they hate standing in long lines, gaining weight and getting into debt.

Other complaints included receiving disappointing gifts and having to attend holiday parties.

Tsilimparis says the solution is to set boundaries and remember it's OK to say no.


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