By N. Ferrell

Combating Holiday Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Thursday, December 05, 2013

As we near the holidays, decor is hung in homes, lights are strung outside, nostalgic smells swirl the air, a chill ensues, and holiday cheer overwhelms the most of us. For some, however, these sights and smells can bring a wave of sadness, depression, stress, and anxiety.

The holiday blues can invade any of our lives, but it is important to pay closer attention to those we know to suffer from depression or those who have lost a loved one recently. One should also keep an eye open for those who may have become recently unemployed, are with out a network of friends and loved ones or, those who have had a negative holiday experience in the past.

Holiday depression is common and effects up to 10% of the population, says John M. Grohol, Psy.D. The holidays can stir up emotions and memories of a happier time in our lives, often bringing us down in the process.

Here are some tips to help you combat the holiday blues:

- While it is healthy to remember and mourn for your loved ones during the season, you do not want it to consume you. You can not force yourself to be happy during this time, but sharing your memories with loved ones keeps your mind positive.

-If you are feeling lonely or isolated, reach out to people! Join your community in the festivities and guarantee that you are not alone.

-Volunteer! Go down to Grace Resource Center and help the hungry and needy. Often creating smiles for others helps you to produce your own. Plus, it is a great way to make friends!

-Plan ahead. If you know that this is a rough time of year for you, plan for it and combat it early. Come up with restorative routines, such as reading a great book. Figure out what basics are going to help you.

-Avoid family conflict as much as possible. If you have the type of family who likes to bicker and cause a stir, guard yourself with simple answers such as "Lets talk about this another time." or, "This isnt a good time for me." Then escape to the restroom, offer to help in the kitchen, or go hang out with the kids. Also, it always helps to call a good friend if you need a sympathetic ear.

-Smaller things to take into account is your daily sunlight exposure. Getting 15 minuets a day is said to help boost your brain's production of serotonin which helps control mood. Working out, sleep, healthier eating choices, and budgeting time and finances are all things needed to be taken into account when battling stress and anxiety.

-Most importantly, GET HELP! If you feel your self sinking further into yourself, seek professional help. Focus on the things that matter and do not stress the small stuff. Taking on too many commitments can be detrimental; learn to say "no" during this time and do not carry unnecessary weight on your shoulders. Finding your happy place is important. There are also many helpful services you may contact for help.

Palmdale Mental Health Services (661) 575-1800
Lancaster Mental Health Services (661) 726-2850
Public Guardian (213) 924-0515
Information / Referrals (800) 854-7771

Please have a safe and happy holiday!

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