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How To Deal With The Stress Of The Holidays

The holidays are full of tradition and festivities. But they can also be a time of stress and anxiety.

The holiday classic proclaims it as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

The carol can't be wrong, can it?

The holidays are full of tradition and festivities. But they can also be a time of stress and anxiety.

10TV has some expert advice on how to keep your Christmas merry.

For plenty of people, the joy of the holiday can come with a sleigh full of stress.

Dr. David Lowenstein says the expectations and obligations of the holiday can take a toll.

"We want to have the ‘Walton Christmas or the Norman Rockwell picture of everyone standing around the turkey with dad carving it and everyone getting along. That's the exception more than the rule,” he said.

He says one key is to ratchet down the pressure of achieving a perfect holiday.

"We're getting together-’ that's what the expectation should be. More than ‘We're getting together and we're going to have this wonderful Christmas.’ No. We're going to eat a meal around family. We're going to have a good time. We're going to laugh at some jokes and have some holiday cheer," Dr. Lowenstein said.

For some, get-togethers with the family can be fraught with tension. Lowenstein says the holiday table isn't the place for a debate.

"Your opinions aren't right. They're just right for you,” he said. “You're not going to convince somebody at a dinner table that they should change how they're going to vote or feel about something."

Those who've suffered a loss this year may find the holiday especially painful.

"It's okay to be sad about that. But maybe think about that person in a positive light. What would John be doing? Or what would Mom be doing? Or what would Grandma want us to do today? I doubt that Grandma or John or Dad would want us to be sad and miserable."

For those really struggling, Lowenstein says this may be the time to give yourself the gift of getting help.

"Maybe it's time to make a decision, ‘I need to do something about it. I need to see a mental health professional. I need to go see my family doctor.’  Make that commitment during this time of year. That should maybe be the resolution- I'm going to take better care of myself," he said.

He says one of the best remedies for holiday headaches is a simple dose of gratitude.

"If you're sitting down with family, be thankful at least you have a family to sit down with, or friends that you sit down with," Dr. Lowenstein said.

More from David Lowenstein, Ph.D.: “Keeping Your Holiday Gatherings Argument-Free”