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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coping with Holiday Stress

The Christmas season can be a stressful time for people with all the parties, reunions and over-commercialization of the holiday.  Financial constraints can cause feelings of guilt if you cannot afford to buy the hot items of the season.  You hear messages from the advertisers that make it seem that there is something wrong with you if you don’t have the latest gadgets.  With all the activities going on during the season, it’s easy to overcommit yourself and this can cause an increase in stress.  All this can cause stress and depression.  Stress can cause headaches, difficulty sleeping, overeating and excessive drinking.

Here are some tips for coping with stress and depression during the holidays from Mental Health America:

  • Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t put the entire focus on just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day). Remember that it’s a season of holiday sentiment, and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
  • Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
  • Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some of your time to help others.
  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping or making a snowperson with children.
  • Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends, or contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while.
  • Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities.
© copyright Mental Health America: downloaded 12/8/11 from  http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectid=c7df954d-1372-4d20-c80ed0a7ab69d250

The University of Alabama has a great web site that has all kinds of information on handling holiday stress.  The main page is at http://www.pal.ua.edu/stress/holiday_stress.php and there are links to more information from that page.

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