Highlights From Dr. Lauren Hazzouri’s Facebook Q&A

The psychologist and Entrepreneur in Residence tackles holiday stress.

Entrepreneur in Residence and clinical psychologist Dr. Lauren Hazzouri stopped by our office recently to answer your questions about managing holiday stress. Didn’t catch the live Facebook Q&A? Get the highlights below and stay tuned for Lauren's next column on the site next week! Highlights From Dr. Lauren Hazzouri’s Facebook Q&A

Q: How can I get over the anxiety of seeing family during the holidays?
A: First of all, you must remember that you are no longer 12-years-old. While oftentimes, when in the company of our family members, many of us regress and fall into old roles and patterns, the trick is to be aware and respond rather than react to your environment. Respond is to behave as if you're in a vacuum. React looks more like a tit for tat. As a final note, look for each person's strengths; we each have them.

Q: It’s so awkward when someone gives you a gift and you don’t have anything for them. How do you suggest dealing with that?
A: I always like to keep extra gifts that are gender-neutral in the trunk of my car (candles, bar linens, fun mugs, ornaments, etc.). They seem to come in handy and take the pressure off, because we can't possibly remember every single person.

Q: What is your advice for navigating the season as the only single one among coupled friends?
A: Isn't it easy to get caught up in the "grass is always greener" way of thinking? I come from the belief that we are all exactly where we need to be and there are pros and cons to every situation and each phase of our lives. My advice is to enjoy this single holiday season. It very well may be your last ;)

Q: How can I prioritize gift-giving without leaving anyone out or breaking the bank?
A: One thing I like to do is to give experiences rather than stuff. For example, I often make IOU coupons for my friends, saying I'll do a movie night at home with their kids so that they can enjoy a date night. I like to bake, so I offer to have my friends over and teach them how to bake their favorite dessert of mine. This way, you don't have to leave anyone out nor do you have to break the bank.

Q: How can I attend an enormous family get-together without bringing gifts for everyone?
I like to bring an activity that everyone can enjoy. The holidays are about making memories, not giving or getting stuff, so providing the opportunity for your enormous family to make a memory together is the best gift you can give. Brainstorm! Think about what games, activities or movies you can bring with you that can be fun for everyone ages 6-60!

Q: How do you suggest leading a healthy lifestyle during this busy season?
A: The advice I give for the 11 other months of the year holds true during the holidays. Taking care of you and living a healthy lifestyle must come first. Eating right, sleeping, exercising, making sure that your body is working like a well-oiled machine, will allow you to make the most of the holiday season and beyond.

Q: What’s the best way to limit stress around holiday travel?
A: I think a good dose of perspective goes a long way. What I mean by that, is that those of us traveling over the holidays, to see loved ones, are the lucky ones. Nonetheless, I know it can be a real drag. What I like to do is get present. An easy way to do that is to use your senses to get in the moment; because in the moment, everything is okay. Remember all of those people in the crowd are other human beings, trying to get from Point A to Point B to see their loved ones, too. They're just like you. Before you leave, you might want to take a peek at the gratitude list you (hopefully!) wrote after reading my last post.

Q: What is your advice for finishing work projects before the holiday break?
A: Good luck!! The holidays are not a destination. It's a season to enjoy friends and family and take a break to remember what really matters. I do think that's what contributes to stress during the holidays—we feel like everything has to be cinched up; that we need a break from life to enjoy the season. That's not true. The holidays are a part of life. It's just a reminder to live it.