How can we avoid holiday stress if they keep bringing it up?

If you weren't tense already, just try reading these tips

For the Record

December 05, 2004|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,Sun Staff

They come bearing tips.

Traditionally, the holidays are a time for press releases about stress relief -- little bundles of e-mail joy dropped at the newspaper's e-doorstep. Stress is big news lately, with researchers suggesting stress can shrink your DNA and subtract years from your life. And those are the good qualities of stress.

It's only fitting then to share those tips with the general public, just in case the general public is under the impression that it can have a good holiday season without anyone's help. Silly, misguided, stressed-out public.

Read on, as the Stress Police set you straight thanks to public relations professionals who not only make more money than we do, but also have somehow extrapolated our full first name in their soul-searching correspondences:

Dear Robert,

How often do we say "Happy Holidays"? But are they really? begins one press release, which promotes a Buddhist monk's book on tips for a happier holiday. Instead of cherishing our family over a delightful meal, how often do our holiday dinners leave a bad taste of angry words and a gut full of hurt feelings?

It's an unappetizing but fair question, so here are the Buddhist monk's five tips for happier holidays:

1. Practice patient acceptance.

2. Overcome jealousy.

3. Rejoice in the good fortune of others.

4. Practice the patience of not retaliating.

5. Accept others.

In a show of spiritual solidarity, we offer two additional suggestions that can also reduce stress provided you can practice the patience of not retaliating while simultaneously operating a common corkscrew:

6a. White wine.

b. Red wine.

Hi Robert:

Here's some key advice to surviving the stress-filled, argument-filled, fun-filled, family-filled JOYOUS holiday season, says another tip-filled item. This time, an author advocates replacing resentment with appreciation, eliminating shame by affirming, displacing judging with forgiving and complimenting instead of criticizing. He has more tips, but the mere typing of them has proved stressful. The e-mail, by the way, is signed, "Happy Holidays!"

The following item reeled us in with the breadth and beauty of its universal truth. Then, we became confused.

Robert,

As it happens so often in life, what we see in movies and on television is not necessarily the way things are in real life. What may work in reel life might, in fact, prove disastrous in real life. So true, but the press release continues: Generations of kids have grown up thinking carrots are a rabbit's favorite food. As it turns out, carrots are not a rabbit's best friend. Slow down there. What will they suggest next? That Santa isn't real? That the Iraqis will have an orderly and legitimate election in January?

As it turns out, rabbits apparently have trouble digesting the sugar in carrots. Too much sugar makes rabbits jealous, impatient, retaliatory and unaccepting of others. They also experience a gut full of hurt feelings and generally don't have a lot of laughs over the holidays.

The Stress Police are indeed looking out for your pets. To reduce your dog's stress this holiday season, "develop a routine for your dog during holiday parties." A comedy routine, perhaps. "A dog can chew up holiday garbage, which can result in intestinal problems." This probably should not be included in the comedy routine. And we might add, never allow your dog to drink and drive.

Holiday stress is often associated with air travel, which California researchers have also determined shrinks DNA and shortens life spans. We came across a tip sheet to ease airport hassles, including suggestions such as wearing sneakers if you have to remove shoes at the security checkpoint, and this practical tip: "Leave heavy gold chains, chunky rings and championship rodeo belt buckles at home."

It's come to this. Championship rodeo belt buckles must be left at home, and rabbits shouldn't eat carrots.

Who wouldn't be stressed?

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