Last updated: Dec 01, 2007

News flash: Youre not the only one wrapping presents at 2 a.m. or burning that last batch of cookies because youre trying to do too many things at once. “We have this cowboy kind of mentality in America that we should be able to handle everything ourselves,” says Jeanne S. Hurlbert, PhD, professor of sociology at Louisiana State University. “But thats unrealistic. You cant handle everything on your own—and you shouldnt try. The question shouldnt be, ‘How can I solve the problem? but ‘Where can I turn in my network for help?”



Your network of family and friends really can help you manage holiday stress. And you can help them, too. Wrapping gifts? Invite some friends over to make the job go a lot faster. And dont worry if your house isnt up to Architectural Digest standards, either. Just grab some instant hot chocolate, clear a table, and “youll end up laughing, having a good time,” Hurlbert says.

Draw on each others respective strengths. If your sister loves baking but is decorating-challenged, maybe you can deck her halls while she whips up some brownies for your cookie exchange. Or compare errand lists with a neighbor and pool trips to the mall or post office, reducing stress, saving money on gas, and helping the environment.

The it-takes-a-village approach to holiday chores does more than help the season run more smoothly—it ensures you dont become too isolated, which is a real health risk for women, Hurlbert says. “Holidays are about enjoying people. But the irony is you become so focused that you can easily end up feeling isolated and stressed. This is particularly true for women. With getting all the gifts, taking the kids to school, and more, you can spend your entire holiday in the car.”

Reach out to your support network, so you can stay calm, cool, and connected.