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Finding the Holiday Spirit: Family

7. Head off problems. Think about what people or situations trigger your holiday stress and figure out ways to avoid them. If seeing your uncle stresses you out, skip his New Year’s party and just stop by for a quick hello on New Year’s Day. Instead of staying in your bleak, childhood bedroom at your stepfather’s house, check into a nearby hotel. You really have more control than you think.

8. Ask for help -- but be specific. See if your spouse will lug out the decorations. Ask your sister to help you cook -- or host the holiday dinner itself. Invite a friend along on shopping trips. People may be more willing to help out than you expect; they just need some guidance from you on what to do.

9. Don’t worry about things beyond your control. So your uncle and your dad get into a fight every holiday dinner and it makes you miserable. But remember your limits. You can’t control them. But you can control your own reaction to the situation.

10. Make new family traditions. People often feel compelled to keep family holiday traditions alive long past the point that anyone’s actually enjoying them. Don’t keep them going for their own sake. “Start a new holiday tradition instead,” says Gloria Pope, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in Chicago. “Create one that’s more meaningful to you personally.”

11. Find positive ways to remember loved ones. Holidays may remind you of the loved ones who aren’t around anymore. But instead of just feeling glum, do something active to celebrate their memory. For instance, go out with your sisters to your mom’s favorite restaurant and give her a toast.

Finding the Holiday Spirit: Parties

12. Don’t overbook. “The holidays last for weeks and weeks,” says Pope. “People really need to pace themselves or they’ll get overwhelmed.” So don’t say yes to every invitation willy-nilly. Think about which parties and you can fit in -- and which ones you really want to attend.

13. Don’t stay longer than you want. Going to a party doesn’t obligate you to stay until the bitter end. Instead, just drop by for a few minutes, say hello, and explain you have other engagements. The hosts will understand that it’s a busy time of year and appreciate your effort. Knowing you have a plan to leave can really ease your anxiety.

14. Have a partner for the party. If the prospect of an office party is causing holiday stress, talk to a friend and arrange to arrive -- and leave -- together. You may feel much better knowing you have an ally and a plan of escape.

10 Triggers for Holiday Blues

Typical causes of holiday stress -- and what you can do about them.
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