Press Release submitted by Bill Eekhof
Happy holidays? Some area residents may find that is far from the case.
Hectic schedules, plenty of demands, and oversized expectations that come with the holiday season can lead to feelings of stress and depression among some people. “There are many demands put on people at this time of year, including holiday parties, gift buying, family get-togethers, overexcited children, extra meal planning, and financial concerns,” says Marisa Curran, a Public Health Nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “All of these added pressures can lead to frayed nerves, short fuses, damaged relationships and depression which has an impact on people’s health.”
Curran offers some practical steps to help area residents cope or reduce holiday stress and depression. “Trying to reduce stress before it takes an emotional toll can pay off,” she notes, “and you might find you start to enjoy the holidays.” To reduce stress, the Health Unit suggests the following:
• Show your feelings. If someone close to you has recently passed away or you’re unable to be with family over the holidays, realize it’s OK to show, and share, your grief and emotions.
• Reach out to others, especially if you are feeling lonely or isolated. Seeking out community or social events can offer support and companionship. Volunteering to help others can also lift your spirits and make you feel more connected.
• Be realistic about the holidays. Change your expectations about the festive season; it doesn’t have to be perfect. As family dynamics change, holiday traditions and rituals will too. Hold on to a few traditions and be open to new ones.
• Set aside differences with family and friends. Accept others as they are. If possible, set aside grievances until there is a more appropriate time to discuss. If necessary, limit time spent socializing with loved ones if these situations make you feel anxious or angry.
• Stick to a budget. Deciding how much you can afford to pay for gifts will reduce the financial strain – and related stress and anxiety – on your family. Happiness can’t be bought with gifts, so show your love in creative ways. Consider gifts of time, such as spending a day with a loved one or teaching a child a new hobby or skill.
• Plan for success. Set aside specific days to shop, bake, decorate, visit or do other activities. Plan meals in advance and line up what you’ll need to buy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to prepare for or clean up from parties and meals.
• Learn to say no. Agreeing to take part in a project or activity for which you have no time can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Set realistic expectations for what you can do over the holidays. Seek balance and try not to overdo it.
• Make time for the people who matter most in your life. Rather than rushing around, take a break by planning outdoor winter activities with your children or plan a date night with your partner.
• Don’t abandon your health. Eat healthy; you can still enjoy a holiday treat, while keeping in mind portion control. Get enough sleep and try to be active every day. Make time for yourself to recharge from the holiday bustle, such as taking a walk, listening to music or reading a book.
• Seek professional help if required. Despite your best efforts, you may still feel sad, anxious, stressed or unable to cope. If these feelings persist, speak to your health care provider or a mental health professional. Locally, the Canadian Mental Health Association (www.cmhahkpr.ca) provides a free, 24/7 professional crisis support line at 1-866-995-9933.