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How to keep stress levels down this Thanksgiving weekend

The holiday season is upon us: Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. The holiday season is often associated with get-togethers with families and friends. But sometimes spending all this time with family can be stressful, especially if you have gone through a recent divorce.

After a divorce is finalized, you may think you can avoid seeing your former spouse over the holidays. But if the two of you have children and share custody, you are more than likely going to interact with your ex. So with the added stress, are there ways that you can avoid letting it get the best of you?

The first step is to identify whether you are stressed. Signs can include having trouble sleeping and physical pain. When you start to notice that your back and neck are hurting more, it may be time to figure out what is causing so much stress in your life.

Often, stress during the holidays can come from having unrealistic expectations. Following a divorce, you may want to make everything perfect for your children whether it's finding them the perfect gift or making sure they are having fun all the time. There may be a sense of competition between you and your ex in creating the better holiday experience.

So, are there steps you can take to change your stress level? One way is to change your thinking by reevaluating the expectations you've placed on yourself. Trying to do everything perfectly can just set you up for disappointment. Instead, setting limits for you and others and being flexible about plans can make for a less stressful holiday season.

Having a completely stress-free Thanksgiving may not be possible for most. But remembering and focusing on the good things this upcoming weekend can help reduce your stress levels and hopefully make for a memorable weekend with your loved ones.

Source: Ledger-Enquirer, "Holiday stress: How to keep your cool," Katie McCarthy, Nov. 22, 2011

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