Holiday stress an issue for many people

December 14, 2011 5:25:58 PM PST
We think of "joy to the world" at this time of year, but for many, it's a time of extreme stress. And for parents of sick children, dealing with the added stress is extremely hard. So we went to experts for some advice on how to keep stress in check, and stay upbeat for our children during the holidays.

Ten-year old Mandy Richardson is making "Santa berries" with her mother and sister Kaylee. These moments are even more special for the Richardsons, since Mandy was treated for brain cancer last year.

After three brain surgeries to remove her cancer, Mandy was left paralyzed and unable to talk.

"I think back and want to cry because that was horrible, not to be able to talk to her," said Mandy's mother, Karen Richardson.

It took five weeks of therapy, prayer and love for Mandy to began talking and walking again.

Now Mandy is in remission, but the stress is still there, as it is for many families during the holidays. That's where the three R's -- rest, recreation and re-framing your situation -- can help.

Mital Brahmbhatt, a Texas Children's Hospital social worker, explains re-framing.

"Re-framing a situation and saying, OK, I don't have any control over what just happened here, but we're just gonna roll with it," Brahmbhatt said.

That's what the Richardson's did.

"Having a strong faith helps out, having a network of friends and family," Frank Richardson said.

They made special family time. And Karen Richardson, a physician herself, says the stress actually made their family stronger.

"You have to enjoy today because you don't know what's coming tomorrow," she said.

And that puts the stresses of the holidays into perspective.

To help people deal with stress, loneliness, and sadness this holiday season, the Mental Health America of Greater Houston is providing free counseling to people that need it. Sessions typically cost $65 but it is based on need.

For more information, you can call 713-522-5161 or email

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