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Holidays Not Always Joyful for Some in PA

December 21, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - The holiday season enters the final stretch this week, and while it can be a joyful time spent with friends and family, for some people it's not necessarily - in the words of one Christmas carol - "the most wonderful time of the year."

Alexandra Barbehenn, a therapist and member of the National Association of Social Workers, says pressures run high during the holidays, for many reasons.

"There's stress about finances, stress about difficult relationships with family members and having to spend time with them. It just kind of accentuates a lot of things that are going on for people that people may not be aware of, or as in touch with at other times of the year."

While many suffer from feelings of loneliness and isolation during the holidays, Barbehenn says the most important thing people can do - take good care of themselves - can also be the most difficult, when there are so many competing holiday demands.

"Stick to exercise, trying to eat well and get adequate rest and sleep. Volunteer at a shelter. Get out in nature; take a walk in the woods. Sometimes, attending a religious service can be very meaningful for people."

Barbehenn says Pennslvanians don't have to go it alone; there are many resources for people who need help coping with lingering depression or anxiety, whether during this season or throughout the year. If you or someone you know needs help, she suggests finding a licensed therapist or social worker, or visiting one of the community mental health centers which are located around the state.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA