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Having a Blue Christmas? Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

Experts say striving for the perfect holiday can leave people feeling overburdened and defeated (Pixabay)
Experts say striving for the perfect holiday can leave people feeling overburdened and defeated (Pixabay)
December 18, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The shopping, decorations, baking and parties during the holiday season can leave some folks feeling more misery than merriment.

Dr. Diane Marti, public education coordinator at the Nebraska Psychological Association, said the holiday blues are not uncommon. And those who already are experiencing stress and sadness in other areas of their lives are especially vulnerable.

She explained that situations such as financial troubles, broken families or the loss of a loved one are among the issues that can make the chaos of the holiday season much more difficult to manage.

"There's a lot of life conditions that trigger blues, because it reminds them that they aren't that happy family that they see on commercials, or they don't have any money to buy gifts for their children,” Marti said.

She recommends putting yourself first, making sure to get plenty of sleep and physical activity. She also suggests discussing your troubles with a trusted friend or family member. If negative feelings persist, seek a trained counselor or psychiatrist who can offer strategies to develop healthy behaviors and address emotional issues.

Marti said striving for the perfect holiday can leave people feeling overburdened and defeated. So she suggests taking a step back and looking at your to-do list.

"Maybe you have expectations that might be really high,” she said. “So maybe looking at 'Is this realistic, goals that I can accomplish by Christmas? Or maybe I can just do part of it.'"

She said helping those in need is a sure-fire way to shift the focus back to what really matters.

"Helping others or volunteering; giving to others and not focusing on what you don't have. Typically that can help get people through,” Marti said. “But if it doesn't, you know, then you're looking at 'Well, maybe I need to get evaluated.'"

Marti noted there is a difference between the holiday blues, which are often temporary and go away once the season ends, and more serious conditions such as depression, seasonal affective disorder and anxiety disorders.

Information and resources are available at APA.org/HelpCenter.

Mary Kuhlman/Cynthia Howard, Public News Service - NE