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Putting the 'happy' back into the holidays

Shopping can be a major stress during the holidays.  

December 22, 1998
Web posted at: 7:21 p.m. EST (0021 GMT)

From Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore

(CNN) -- For some people, the pressure to "do it all" during the holidays can often be overwhelming. We want to be everywhere and do everything.

Experts say it's all about expectations.

"People look forward to the holidays for so long and plan so much and expect too much," says clinical psychologist Dr. Carol Goldberg. "Their expectations are not realistic and therefore they get disappointed."

One of the biggest stressors at holiday time, according to Goldberg, is family.

"People who don't have families tend to feel very lonely. People who do have families may have a lot of conflicts because family times bring back a lot of relationships from the past."

Holiday Survival Tips:
  • Set realistic expectations. You dont have to do it all or prepare it all.
  • Learn to say no. You don't have to accept every invitation.
  • Set a budget. Many families pick a name out of a hat and buy for just one family member -- or set a limit on spending.
  • Be realistic about family. Everyone is not going to behave perfectly just because you're getting together.
  • Shopping can also be a real strain: the lines, the crowds, and later, the inevitable bills-- which often show how you spent a little more than you should have, or wanted to.

    But, perhaps the biggest source of stress is time management. Dr. Goldberg says what's important to remember is that we are living in the 90s.

    "People should not try to replicated what people did in the past. First of all, in grandma's days, grandma was probably home, not commuting, not working out of the house."

    So if you're still stressed this holiday, remember to take the time to just enjoy yourself. That's a sure fire stress buster.

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