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Reach out to others this holiday season
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about handling holiday stress.)

The only thing that can be worse than having too much family around during the holidays is having too little family around during the holidays.
Either way it can be a problem and it can add to the despair that is all too common during the last couple of months of the year.
When there’s too much family, it’s easy to get on each others’ nerves.
When there’s too little family, it seems like friends and co-workers are constantly talking about the fun they are having at busy family events.
It can lead to stress and, in many cases, even depression.
But getting busy with others can be an answer.
According to hints from the Kansas State University Extension sources, there are some tactics you can try to combat the downside of this busy season.
Hints include:
• Call a local church, chamber of commerce or community service organization and volunteer to help serve a community dinner or give time to a food or toy drive, visit shut-ins or take on other projects that help others if you don’t have enough family here.
• Take on a project you can handle and afford, like making cookies for public safety officers, emergency rooms, or a shut-in in your neighborhood.
• Again, plan ahead. Don’t try to take on such projects when it’s too stressful, and budget to afford the projects.
• Budgeting is a great idea now, while there is still time. It’s a good tip to make a realistic assessment of what you can afford — entertaining, gifts, travel, decorating — and then to stick with it. Living within that budget will go a long way towards reducing stress throughout this season.
• That “budget” can include insights into how family members get along — or don’t. Learn from the past, but don’t relive it.
• Celebrate traditions, but don’t let them rule.
• Be open to new activities and ideas that may develop into future traditions.