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College of Human Ecology

Skip the "humbug!" 10 tips to relieve holiday stress

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Few families will match the idyllic images captured in holiday advertisements, but most can find joy in the holiday season and after, said Charlotte Shoup Olsen.

Olsen, who is a family systems specialist with Kansas State University Research and Extension, encourages everyone to extend the thankfulness typically associated with Thanksgiving celebrations throughout the holiday season - and into the new year.

"Feeling grateful for home, family, friends and life in general spills over into other activities and to others who sense your gratitude," Olsen said. Gratitude itself can have a calming influence.

A little planning also can go a long way in relieving family stress - and holiday stresses, said Olsen, who offered the following time- and stress-management tips:

* Start early to plan family and other gatherings.

* Involve others, so everyone will be informed. Surprises can add stress unnecessarily.

* Be responsible. If the family is planning a potluck and you promised to bring the main dish, be on time, with enough food to serve everyone expected.

* Ask adult children what they would like to bring, rather than making arbitrary assignments. Let´s face it - a daughter-in-law may enjoy making fruit salad, but not piecrust.

* Explain house rules to children.

* Leave disciplining others´ children to the childrens´ parents.

* Plan age-appropriate activities, such as soccer or touch football, table or board games.

* Keep the peace - try not to bring up touchy topics.

* Don´t overstay - everyone needs his or her own space and time for self.

* No family nearby? Call a local chamber of commerce or community service organization and volunteer to help serve a community dinner or give time to a food or toy drive.

"Focus on others, rather than yourself," said Olsen, who suggested inviting others to join in a potluck, watch a movie or sports event to share the day.

"Calling family and friends also can help those who are alone stay connected," she said.

And, if you like - and can - treat yourself to an afternoon off, new book, video or craft project. The dog might like an extra walk, too.

More information on managing family relationships is available at K-State Research and Extension offices and on the Extension Web site: www.oznet.ksu.edu.

K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

This article was posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.