Stay positive during the holiday season

Take a deep breath. The increasing pace of the holidays is just beginning.

Some people revel in the spirit of the season, humming Christmas songs as they go about the holiday preparations.

But those already stressed can feel a little overwhelmed at the holidays.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can put a damper on the holiday spirit 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. Look for a positive way to remember a loved one.

Take the holidays in stride and don’t live by someone else’s expectations.

If you feel lonely, seek out events in your community. Attend a performance of a church choir or other social activities. Being surrounded by others can help you feel better. Try volunteering. It may do the heart some good.

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

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

Family differences can bring on stress at the holidays. Try to set aside differences during the holidays. Continuing a fight at the holidays can make coping with stress and depression even harder and can spoil the holidays for others.

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

Pace your activities during the holidays. Don’t let the stress of what you think has to be done become overwhelming. The same can be said for all the parties and events for which you have received an invitation. Learn to say “no.” Forget the unimportant things.

Staying physically healthy during the holidays also can be a challenge. Stress can lead to illness. Taking a walk or getting some indoor exercise can go a long way to alleviating stress. Make sure you get enough sleep. Avoid overeating and drinking.

And, take time for yourself. That small break is a great way to refresh yourself both physically and mentally.

Even following all the suggestions of mental health professionals may not be enough. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help.

Try to stay positive this holiday season.

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