A dozen stress busters for the holidays and beyond

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• Be good to yourself. Things are so hectic that you should try to find some time for relaxation and unwinding.

• Don't abandon healthy habits. Keep your exercise regimen during the holidays. Remember that we eat and drink more during this season and alcohol can worsen depression.

• Talk to your family about gift-giving. Maybe just give to the kids. Does an adult really need another pair of gloves? Families should consider a "family gift," such as tickets to a show.

• Be realistic. When we have unrealistic expectations for the holidays, and those hopes are dashed, it can lead to feelings of stress.

• Stick to a budget. A good holiday season does not mean spending more. It may mean saying "no" to overextending yourself in terms of money and commitment.

• Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events.

• Consider options to traditional gift-giving. One idea might be giving to a charity in a friend's name

• If you are really depressed, contact your health care provider. If you are not seeing someone, this might be a good time to get started.

• Keep in mind you are not perfect. There is no rule that you have to send a holiday card to everyone. Note that a "good enough" gift will do instead of "the perfect" one.

• Take time for yourself. Maintain your exercise schedule, even if it means not being an hour early to a family gathering. Maintain a good sleep schedule, but do not be too strict.

• Remember the true meaning of the holidays.

• Savor your hometown blessings. Enjoy the Nativity scenes, light displays and other celebrations here in the 'Burg and suburbs.

--From Tony Mannarino, Jessie Goicoechea, Elizabeth Mazur and Charles Reynolds



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