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Holidays and Mental Health

Many enjoy the festivities with friends and family during the holidays but for some this time can create or worsen stress, anxiety and depression. There are a variety of factors that can cause this. Holidays can increase financial burdens due to travel, gift and/or hosting costs. The holiday season often includes a packed calendar of parties, performances and traveling making it difficult to balance everyday responsibilities and self-care. In addition, there can be high expectations to give perfect gifts or plan perfect events. Others are unable to be with loved ones and this can create loneliness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides some coping tips to help if you are experiencing any of these challenges.

· Stick to normal routines as much as possible.

· Get enough sleep.

· Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with supportive, caring people.

· Eat and drink in moderation. Avoid drugs and alcohol for comfort. While the prospect of escape may be appealing, substance use can ultimately worsen your stress.

· Get exercise – even if it is only taking a short walk.

· Make a to-do list. Keep things simple.

· Set realistic expectations and goals for holiday activities.

· Set a budget for holiday activities.

· Listen to music or find other ways to relax.

· Soak up the sun – walking outside in the sun can be an effective calming tool. There are numerous benefits to spending time in nature.

· If you are in therapy, don’t cancel your therapy sessions. This ensures you have built-in time to explore anything that comes up during the holiday season.

Remember – the holiday blues are short-term. Be patient. Take things week by week or day by day.

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