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Emotional Survival Guide for the Holidays

Experts explain some simple methods for driving away the holiday blues.
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Reaching Out and Touching Someone

If you ask yourself why you are down and the reason is that you can't afford to visit your Aunt Sally this year, the solution is simple, Baron says. "Use your cellular on weekends or after 4 p.m. when you can have an extended phone conversation, often for free," Baron says.

Avoiding Scrooges and Grinches

"Look at how to protect yourself from the energy vampires of the holiday season who deplete your holiday energy reserve," suggests Judith Orloff, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of Positive Energy. They can include the drama queens, blamers, criticizers, and sob sisters, she explains. Instead, "try and be around positive people. If your Aunt Meg can suddenly start up and start blaming and criticizing you and make you feel like a wreck, don't sit next to her. Stake out a seat early."

"If you know sitting next to Uncle Jake at Christmas dinner will freak you out, assure that whoever does the seating arrangement moves you to another location," says Susan Newman, PhD. Newman is the author of The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It -- and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever. "Don't be wishy-washy about decisions. People can't read your mind. If something upsets you they won't know it unless you say so."

Not Going Home for the Holidays

"If you want to go to your partners' family this year and you have always gone home, simply explain that this is what you want to do and don't obsess about the consequences," Newman says. "Remember, people are really looking to get something done and they are not thinking about you as much you think they are. When you say no, they are on to the next person or task. When you say no to people, you put yourself first and during the holidays, we are always putting everybody else in front of us."

Not Burning the Yule Log on Both Ends

"Meditate," Orloff suggests. "Carve out three minutes a day to relieve stress and use your breath to calm down and focus on the positive. Picture a child's face, a waterfall or a flower."

"There's so much pressure around the holidays to perform, be happy, and look good that I would try repeating a mantra to myself," Newman says. "Say 'I will not give in to the pressure' over and over again to remind yourself that you deserve to be in control of your time."

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What stresses you most during holidays?