Get tips on how to avoid holiday stress

LOS ANGELES This holiday season is just like any other -- there's the cooking, baking, shopping and wrapping.

"Oh my God, yeah, I'm really stressed out plus I'm working over Christmas," said Viola Brown, who suffers from holiday stress.

"Stress is always a part of holidays. There are expectations about taking care of other people, stress of dealing with family members, sometimes you deal with it with dread," said Providence St. Joseph psychologist Dr. Glaser.

Dr. Glaser says the first step to cutting stress is to recognize why we celebrate holidays.

"If we can relax a little bit and pace ourselves it is better. If we can come up with more realistic expectations of what we can do and what we expect it is better," said Dr. Glaser. "We need to slow down and think of the reason of the holiday. You need to think of the root of the holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and Ramadan."

Dr. Glaser says stress ruins sleep, elevates blood pressure and wreaks havoc with our health in many other ways. So during the holidays, he can't stress how important is to skip junk food, eat balanced meals and drink in moderation.

"Get exercise and plenty of rest. I think if you do these things it will help you to tolerate stress better during the holidays," said Dr. Glaser.

You wouldn't think this but the one thing that's helping a lot of people get through the economy is the economy. The lack of funds means people have to simplify.

"It's a difficult economic situation and everyone really understands that the other person can't really do much," said Brigette Shipke, who suffers from holiday stress.

Studies show spending time with friends is an effective coping mechanism. So concentrate on the special people in your life.

"Really focus on what the holiday is about and to practice the holiday in the spirit to which it is intended, not the one that Madison Ave. has sold to us," said Dr. Glaser.

Family conflicts during holiday gatherings can be stressful as well. Dr. Glaser says often there is resentment, competition and bad feelings. He recommends focusing on positive and putting aside about trying to keep up or outdo each other.

Web Extra Information:

The following organizations are helping families out this holiday season:

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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