Do these 6 holiday stress hurdles sound familiar? Here's how you can avoid them.
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Hallmark

Many people say the holidays are the happiest time of year. (And they should be!) But for others, the season is also the most stressful time of the year.

Whether you’re dealing with family, time, or money issues — or all three — it can get very overwhelming very quickly.

Luckily, Hallmark has some simple, effective tips on how to spread smiles, not stress, over the holidays. Check out some of their suggestions to show you #CareEnough this time of year:


Holidays have you stressed? Here are some helpful tips on caring for yourself and others. #CareEnough

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Upworthy on Saturday, December 17, 2016

Where does all that holiday stress come from in the first place? And what exactly can we do about it?

Sometimes, a little outside perspective is just what the doctor ordered. We enlisted the help of Dr. Sharon Kelly, a clinical psychologist, and Dena Patton, a certified life and business coach, to break down what causes holiday stress, what we can do to manage it, and how to keep the spirit of the season strong.

Here are six different hurdles that many people find themselves facing:

1. Feuding with the family.

Where it comes from: “I think most people that I see, there’s some family triggers, family history, family dynamics, interpersonal conflicts. That creates a lot of anxiety for people,” says Kelly. There's no doubt that our disagreements and attitudes towards family can get in the way of the celebration. And the more we hold on to them, the more we allow them to reach a boiling point.

What you can do: It all starts with you. “Choose to bring joy, not stress, to the party,” Patton writes in an email.

“The opportunity is in your hands,” adds Kelly. “You change the meaning that you attach to [the holidays], you change your response to it, you change your intention for the day. If you know that a certain person is going to really get under your skin, how do you go into that situation?”

2. Money, money, money! (For gifts, gifts, gifts.)

Where it comes from: “There’s all this anxiety around what to get people,” says Kelly. “Is this the right gift? Are they going to like this? Is this going to show how I feel about them?" When that stress hits, some people think an expensive gift will do the trick. Kelly adds, "They actually spend more even if it’s not something that you want.”

What you can do: “Have a budget and stick to it,” writes Patton. “Do not go into debt out of feeling obligated.” When it comes down to it, simply being prepared and knowing ahead of time how you’re going to plan your attack will ease all your emotions.

3. Holiday party obligations piling up.

Where it comes from: First off, there can be too many parties this time of year. And second, many times, these parties become more about impressing others and less about the actual gathering. “I know people that have these big, beautiful parties because they’re really good at it,” says Kelly. “But it’s, like, way over the top, and they have all this anxiety, no one appreciates it.”

What you can do: If throwing or going to a big party brings you joy, go for it! Just remember to do it for the right reason. “Pick your battles here,” writes Patton. “Practice your boundaries and don't say yes to every party. Make this year the [one] you are doing things that really bring you joy and cut out the things that bring you stress.”

4. HUGE crowds and looooong lines.

Where it comes from: The stress that long lines bring boils down to one simple idea: waiting until the last minute. Holiday crowds and shopping are a totally different animal, and remembering that will save you so much time in the long run.

What you can do: “Shop online or go shopping in off peak hours when crowds aren't present,” writes Patton. “Planning ahead in this area really helps.” Plus, the beauty of the modern world is that we can do all the holiday shopping we need without ever leaving the house.

5. All that food around you!

Where it comes from: If you’re cooking the food, it’s pretty easy to see how all the stress can creep in. As the number of diners rises, so does the pressure to get things right. If you’re just eating, though, try not to overdo it. All that indulgence and excess may come back to stress you out later on.

What you can do: “Have a plan and work the plan!” writes Patton. “If the plan is to indulge, then go for it, but if you promised yourself not to gain 10 pounds then never go to a party hungry.”

6. More-than-full to-do lists.

Where it comes from: “The bottom line is that we are busy — actually we are over-scheduled!” writes Patton. “We pile on more things to our schedule, our money and our emotional state and we go into overload.”

What you can do: If you're feeling overwhelmed, Kelly has a simple suggestion. "I would have them just step back in a quiet moment on their own," she says. "Really think about if they were really happy and [if] they really were going to enjoy the season ... how would they design it? What choices would they make?"

Whichever combination of hurdles apply to you, address the stress by taking a breath, planning ahead, and really thinking about what the holiday spirit means for you.

Ultimately, if we understand what brings us joy and make a conscious effort to really pay attention to that, then good things will follow. In fact, take a breather once in a while if you need to. If there's one S-word that should describe the holidays. It's special — not stress.

"Remember that this season isn't about gifts, stress, or social media," notes Patton. "It's about faith, family and making memories. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the busy-ness that we forget what really matters."

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

When we think of what a Tyrannosaurus looked like, we picture a gargantuan dinosaur with a huge mouth, formidable legs and tail, and inexplicably tiny arms. When we picture how it behaved, we might imagine it stomping and roaring onto a peaceful scene, single-handedly wreaking havoc and tearing the limbs off of anything it can find with its steak-knife-like teeth like a giant killing machine.

The image is probably fairly accurate, except for one thing—there's a good chance the T. rex wouldn't have been hunting alone.

New research from a fossil-filled quarry in Utah shows that Tyrannosaurs may have been social creatures who utilized complex group hunting strategies, much like wolves do. The research team who conducted the fossil study and made the discovery include scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colby College of Maine, and James Cook University in Australia.

The idea of social Tyrannosaurs isn't entirely new—Canadian paleontologist Philip Curie floated the hypothesis 20 years ago upon the discovery of a group of T. rex skeletons who appeared to have died together—but it has been widely debated in the paleontology world. Many scientists have doubted that their relatively small brains would be capable of such complex social behavior, and the idea was ridiculed by some as sensationalized paleontology PR.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.