This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Christmas is a week away. Are you relaxed and ready, or are you feeling the pinch of shopping, attending holiday parties, preparing for relatives to visit and wrapping last-minute gifts? Many people get so caught up in the “must-do” activities this time of year that they forget to relax and enjoy the special season that is happening around them. Often, people feel stressed out during the holiday season. For some, the memory of lost loved ones can cast a pall over an otherwise-joyous time. Many people, especially in a difficult economic climate, succumb to perceived financial obligations, which can lead to depression.
At this time of year, it is important to check in with yourself and assess your mental health. The Mayo Clinic offers 10 tips to help you avoid holiday stress and depression, and experience the joy of Christmastime.
Acknowledge your feelings. If you’ve experienced loss or can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief.
Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits.
Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. Choose a few traditions to hold onto, and be open to creating new ones.
Set aside differences. Try to accept people, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Try to be understanding when others get upset. They may be feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Stick to a budget. Before you go shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness by purchasing more than you can afford.
Plan ahead. Set aside time for holiday tasks. Having an outline of what you need to accomplish can help prevent last-minute scrambling.
Don’t be afraid to say no. Saying yes when you shouldn’t can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends will understand if you can’t participate in every activity.
Don’t abandon healthy habits. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard. Get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
Take a breather. Take a walk, listen to soothing music or just relax for a few moments. Find something that reduces stress and clears your mind.
Seek professional help if you need it. If you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.