Easing holiday stress

You've been racing through the usual holiday marathon — staying up late to address cards and bake cookies and decorate the house — and now, you're almost across the finish line.

Stop, take a deep breath, and give yourself time to focus on what's really important. This is the time to pencil in some "me" time for a walk, a yoga class or a soothing massage to de-stress.

Here are some suggestions from local therapists for getting through the last gasp of the holidays:

Barbara Schlumberger, a marriage and family therapist who practices in Santa Rosa, has one holiday mantra that fits all: Keep it simple.

"Limit the amount of people you are around," she said. "If you're visiting family, come for three hours instead of three days. Stay in a hotel instead of at the house, so you have time to get away."

It's especially important to keep it simple for kids, who can become quickly overwhelmed by too many gifts.

"And when they're opening gifts, pay attention," she said. "Let everyone appreciate it, and take their time."

If your kids are glued to their electronics, declare a screen-free window of time, she said. Then reconnect through a board game.

Robin Setchko, a Santa Rosa therapist who specializes in the parent-child connection, also recommends giving each child 3 to 5 minutes of your undivided attention each morning, to keep them grounded.

Just like kids, parents may need to take a "time out" when they get overtired. Setchko advises talking to your kids ahead of time, letting them know you may need to go for a walk on Christmas, but you'll be back. That way, they won't feel abandoned.

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