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Beat the Holiday Blues

Seasonal Strain #1: An Overscheduled Calendar

Does the holiday hustle and bustle give you a headache? You're not alone. In a recent survey, 43% of parents with children at home reported feeling overwhelmed by how much they have to do in November and December.

Making a to-do list is an obvious first step, and deciding what goes on it is key. Leave off events that you usually feel obliged to attend even though you don't have the time or desire. Instead of agonizing over how you're going to fit the occasion in, what you're going to wear, and what you're going to bring, simply say no.

"A common fear is that people will be shattered if you don't show up," says Ronald Nathan, Ph.D., creator of the self-help CD Relieving Your Holiday Stress and Achieving Your New Year's Resolutions. "In reality, it's not catastrophic if you miss something." Your get-off-the-hook response? "I'm so happy you invited me and I'd love to come, but I have other plans." And those plans can be another event, a family night decorating the tree, or relaxing at home. You don't have to give details. If you must show up, make it a quick stop with a predetermined exit strategy. Inform the host that you can't stay long. For neighborhood or school gatherings, split the duties with your spouse (you handle the class party while he takes the kids to the holiday pageant).

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