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It's almost here – the holidays. But, for some people, it isn't all mistletoe and happiness. According to the American Psychological Association, 8 out of 10 adults anticipate stress with the holidays. Holiday stress can contribute to a host of ills – from allergies to headaches, sleep disorders and upset stomachs.

Here are a few tips to help keep stress lowered – and increase holiday happiness:

Be realistic

Nothing will ever be perfect. Everyone may love an entirely home-cooked  meal. If those duties strain your time and finances – consider purchasing part of the meal. Put the focus on your family – not the meal. 

Ask for help

Sometimes the changes in your family make the holidays a sad time. Don't feel pressured to "feel happy." Acknowledge those feelings – and ask for help from your physician if these feelings are overwhelming. 

Traditions can change

Just because you have always done something one way doesn't mean you can't change slightly to accommodate different circumstances. Be open to changing or creating new traditions. 

Call a truce

Having family all under one roof can be stressful. Forgive, walk away or just plain ignore things that bother you.

Maintain routines

During the holidays, houseguests or vacation time may change your family schedules. Children are comforted by normal habits and routines and may react to the stress with whining, crying or acting out. Stick to bedtimes, meal times and normal activity as much as possible.

Blending a family

You may host stepchildren – or your children may be traveling to another home for the holidays. Make the children feel welcome. If you are the host, provide a special space for the child – a particular drawer or shelf – that is theirs alone. If your child is the visitor, encourage him to have a good time.

Kid-friendly holiday dip's nutrition expert Cami Wells, registered dietician from UNL's Extension Office offers this tasty, easy, kid-friendly dip for those holiday gatherings: 

Sassy Pretzel Dip


  • ¼ cup "light" mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • Hard or soft pretzels OR vegetables


  1. Combine mayonnaise, mustard, and brown sugar.
  2. Serve 2 tablespoons of dip to each child with some pretzels or vegetables.
  3. Dip pretzels or veggies in the dip and enjoy!
  4. Make sure to gobble it all up within 2 hours or place leftovers in a refrigerator or cooler.

Cindy Janssen, DO

Methodist Physicians Clinic Papillion

Dr. Janssen answers your questions about child health and parenting. Dr. Janssen feels great satisfaction being a doctor and she is amazed at how much joy her patients give to her. Working with patients and their families "touches her heart" especially working with newborns and new parents.  Dr. Janssen works with all generations of a family from newborns, to the parents and grandparents. Sometimes what is going on in the family can have an effect on the health and wellbeing ...

Learn more about this expert

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