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Here's what women can do to avoid extreme stress during the holidays
In the midst of cooking, buying presents and organizing family events, women face a great deal of stress during the holiday, and Medical Xpress reported it can lead to heart damage. - photo by Payton Davis
New York City area resident Heather Haviland said she sought to make the holidays great for her family, but a 16-hour day of reminders of all the work she had left caused her to break down, ABC News reported.

"I was driving home really tired and looking at the houses with all the lights, and the next thing I know I'm crying because I'd love to have the time to put up the lights," Haviland told ABC News.

Haviland isn't the only one: Tasked with shopping, cooking, cleaning and decorating, "women bear the brunt of the stress" during what should be the most enjoyable time of the year, according to ABC News.

And that burden can put women at risk for heart problems.

According to Medical Xpress, cases of stress-induced cardiomyopathy aren't unheard of for women in their efforts to make "holiday time a happy time."

Karla Kurrelmeyer, a cardiologist with Houston Methodist Hospital's Heart and Vascular Center, warns they might see a jump in blood pressure, increasing risk of stroke or chest pain, according to Medical Xpress.

"We have seen more than a few cases of stress-induced cardiomyopathy around the holidays," Medical Xpress quoted Kurrelmeyer as saying. "This occurs when women are under great amounts of stress for a short period of time and that stress is compounded with another traumatic event."

What's a busy woman to do in the midst of Christmastime bustle?

Experts list exercise, meditation and walks to combat some stress, according to ABC 3340 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Particularly if these activities are part of women's daily routines, they shouldn't abandon them to please others, Victoria Dooley, M.D., wrote for The Huffington Post. Taking less time for self might seem like the caring thing to do but the healthiness of disregarding one's own needs is another story.

"People often think they are too busy (taking care of everyone else) to exercise, eat healthy, pray, get a good night's sleep and so on," the Post's piece read. "These excuses are harmful to your health, causing many women to overeat or get sick."

The bottom line: Don't forget to give thanks to yourself during the holidays, according to the Post.

And women with numerous tasks shouldn't forget to ask for help either, Stephanie Kordan wrote for the Post.

After all, holiday traditions Thanksgiving, especially are better kept for "enjoyment rather than making a big fuss over the food itself," the Post reported.

Culinary star Nigella Lawson told the Post maintaining these traditions is easier in a group effort; at big meals, she involves her family and friends in setting the table rather than reserving those steps for herself.

Forgetting perfection also helps over-stressed women in November and December, Margie Warrell wrote for Forbes.

"Of course it's easy to get socially conditioned into believing that our holiday table should resemble the front cover of a Martha Stewart magazine ," Forbes noted. "The truth is that by striving to achieve some idealized image of holiday utopia, you miss the point of how this season came to be festive in the first place and actually make it harder to experience [its] joy and meaning."

Susie Orman Schnall wrote for POPSUGAR of one more thing: Overcomitting amplifies stress. But listing commitments on a schedule and not glorifying the act of being busy both prove effective, according to POPSUGAR.

"Being crazy busy during the holidays doesn't make you look or feel important and full of good cheer," POPSUGAR reported. "It makes you look and feel frazzled and stressed out."
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