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updated 12/9/2009 3:47:11 PM ET 2009-12-09T20:47:11

Even though you can flip on the tube and watch Emeril, Guy, Jamie, or Tyler whip up a mean meal, off the Food Network it's still women who do the lion's share of the food shopping, cooking, and cleanup — especially around the holidays. But you don't have to resign yourself to feeling frazzled. "What distinguishes one person's meltdown from another's indifference is their perception of control over the situation," says Dr. Paul J. Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress. Try these strategies and you'll be prepared to shrug off any tough situation this busy season throws at you.

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Tea off
In a study at University College in London, 75 volunteers drank the equivalent of a cup of black tea before completing two stressful tasks. Afterward, their cortisol levels dropped an average of 47 percent, compared with 27 percent for the people who didn't imbibe.

Just say "%&* it!"
Swearing reduces stress, according to research published in the Leadership & Organization Development Journal. We don't suggest dropping the F bomb in the middle of an intimate dinner party, but a strategically placed expletive in the privacy of your car, kitchen, or bedroom can help you blow off steam.

Life is stressful enough. Keep your cool with these 12 tips to help you relax.

Press the issue
Acupressure is a quick and effective tension releaser — it can reduce stress by up to 39 percent, according to researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. For fast relief, massage the fleshy area between your thumb and index finger for 20 to 30 seconds.

Treat yourself
Flavonoids in cocoa relax your body's blood vessels so that arteries can dilate, reducing blood pressure, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found. Look for dark chocolate or cocoa powder, which have more of the stress-busting compound than milk chocolate, and keep it to one serving.

As if you needed another excuse to indulge in chocolate, here's another reason.

Take a YouTube-timeout
Just the anticipation of laughing significantly decreases levels of the stress hormones dopac, cortisol, and epinephrine, according to researchers at Loma Linda University in California.

Chew the fat
According to a study from the University of Pittsburgh, people with the highest blood levels of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids are happier, less impulsive, and generally more agreeable. Boost your mood by adding foods rich in omega-3's — salmon, herring, and sardines top the list — to your holiday feasts. Or try a daily supplement of 400 milligrams each of EPA and DHA fish oils. Try these 9 stress-busting super foods.

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