Mental Health @ the Holidays

I know I've been putting forward many mental health articles this last month, but so many people suffer from depression and anxiety. Not that we don't have all these stressors throughout the year, but the holiday season seems to have its own kind of mania. I would be surprised if you didn't know someone that was being treated now or has battled in the past. There are so many resources available now that you or your loved ones can take advantage of.

I think for most people it's the stigma or - really - the perceived stigma - associated with having "mental health issues". Please talk too someone. It can be anyone. It doesn't help to bottle it up. Having had friends and family that have battled with depression and anxiety, the best thing to offer is help - and it can have many forms. Listening. Safe places. Time Away. A ride. Sometimes the littlest thing you think you could do, means the world to the person you did it for. You could actually make all the difference in helping that person get what they need to get through to the next day.

This latest article I found - even though it's a little long - has great suggestions to deal with stress for the holidays, but really for all year long.

Merry Christmas! and take care of each other......

Ah, the Christmas season. For some, this is a wonderful time of year filled with love, peace, joy, laughter, optimism, fellowship, family, friends, good food, giving, winter activities, cozy evenings, and fond memories.

It also can be a time for stress, anxiety, sadness, frustration, hurry, loneliness, disappointment, depression, overworking, overeating, and overspending.

Many people find the time leading up to and during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years to be stressful.

There’s shopping, cooking, cleaning, parties, travel, crowds, the onslaught of advertising telling us about everything we “should” have, expectations, positive and negative anticipation, the fear of failure (giving the “wrong” gifts, an unsuccessful party, disappointing food, inappropriate clothes), the pressure from our children about what they “want,” and the ingestion of sweets, treats, drinks, extra calories, and so on.

But, there is good news! Being proactive in your holiday planning can turn an otherwise stressful Christmas season into an enjoyable and memorable one. Here are 10 ways to a happier and less stressed Christmas season:

1. Manage Your Stress Moment By Moment

It’s better to manage your stress moment by moment rather than trying to get caught up on stress reduction after the fact. That’s because once the body becomes chronically stressed (hyperstimulated), it can take a long time to recover, and often much longer than most people realize. For instance, research shows it can take the body four times as long to recover from the adverse effects of stress as it does to incur them.

Keeping an eye on your level of stress leading up to and during the Christmas season, then taking corrective action each day, can prevent a build-up of unnecessary stress, its symptoms, and what’s often a protracted recovery.

Being more deliberate about your holiday plans so that your holidays are less stressful can make a meaningful difference in how you will feel physically, psychologically, and emotionally during AND after the Christmas holiday season.

2. Start Early, Plan Ahead

Feeling like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it can be stressful. You can eliminate this stress by starting early and planning ahead.

For example, you can start your Christmas season preparations during the summer months by planning and arranging for family festivities, deciding what budget to spend and the gifts to spend it on, the meals you want to make, the activities you want to plan or attend, etc. Then, take your time over the next four months bringing it all together.

Taking a leisurely run up to the Christmas season can reduce a significant amount of stress. It can also free up plenty of time for you to relax and enjoy the Christmas season instead of rushing to and through it.

3. Take Rest Breaks

Taking regular rest breaks is a great way to minimize the build-up of stress. Resting and relaxing each day can keep your body and mind healthy, especially during busy or pressure-filled times like the Christmas holiday season.

Resting for even five minutes here and there throughout the day can be enough to offset a build-up of stress.

Moreover, frequent rest breaks can also help make up for lost sleep. In fact, if you can’t sleep, rest. Rest reduces the body’s stimulation, which can make it easier for the Sleep Mechanism to engage. The more rested the body, the easier it is to sleep.

Also, it’s not selfish to take time out to rest. Taking frequent rest breaks can be an important self-care practice.

4. Be Realistic

Life isn’t perfect. It’s never going to be. That’s the reality we need to embrace. Consequently, we have to be realistic with things not being perfect, including how the Christmas season plays out.

There will be disappointments, things that don’t turn out “just right,” and problems that crop up. Learnin