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Avoiding holiday stress, depression

December 20, 2011
Salem News

The holidays are quickly upon us and it also is the peak for holiday stress and depression.

There are many in the area who are already stressed about unemployment and the uncertainty of the economy. Household budgets are tight, and children are expecting gifts under the tree. There will be family and friends visiting, parties to attend, cleaning, shopping and baking, all of which can lead to more stress and can trigger depression.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can put a damper on this time of the year, but mental health professionals have tips to keep stress and depression to a minimum.

The holidays can be a sad time if you have lost a loved one during the past year. Professionals agree it is OK to take time to grieve, have a good cry and feel sad. Don't feel pressure to be happy, it will only make you feel worse.

If you feel lonely, discover events in your community. Attend a performance of a church choir or other social activities. Being around others can make you feel better.

Friends and family need to recognize those that are going through tough times and try to offer emotional support. Talk can be the best medicine for those who are feeling down.

Many expect the holidays to be perfect or just like ones they have been accustomed to over the years. Times change, but that doesn't mean you have to forget the good times and customs of years gone by. Pick and choose what traditions fit your life today.

Also, remember what makes you sad at this time and avoid those triggers.

Family differences can loom even larger at the holidays. Try to set aside differences during this time of year. Continuing a fight at the holidays can make coping with stress and depression even harder and can also spoil the holidays for others.

Money problems can be made better by setting a budget for how much will be spent on gifts. Remember, it isn't the cost, it is the thought.

Plan out what has to be done during the holidays. Pace your activities, such as setting aside a day for baking or a couple days for shopping. The stress of what still needs to be done can be overwhelming. The same can be said for all the parties and events for which you have received an invitation. Learn to say "no." There are only so many hours in a day.

Staying physically healthy during the holidays also can be a challenge. Stress can lead to illness. Taking a walk or getting on the treadmill can go a long way to alleviating stress, and make sure you get enough sleep.

Take time for yourself. That small break is a good breather to refresh yourself both physically and mentally. Maintaining that inner calm is so important.

Even following all the suggestions of mental health professionals may not be enough. Realize it may be time to ask for professional help.

Take one day at a time this holiday season. Stay positive and enjoy the good things in your life.



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