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Feeling Far From Merry?

The holidays can often add additional stress to many peoples lives. Image by: Magnus Manske
The holidays can often add additional stress to many peoples lives. Image by: Magnus Manske
December 16, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can leave many Hoosiers feeling far from merry. According to Dr. Julie Steck, who chairs the Indiana Psychological Association, there's a lot more activity that needs to fit into a normal day this time of year, which leaves some people tired, stressed, and even depressed. She suggested putting more meaning into the season by reminding yourself of what's most important to you, and not allowing yourself or others to set expectations too high.

"You can't see everyone in the two weeks around Christmas, but you'll have time to see them in January," the doctor pointed out. "And the house isn't going to look perfect all the time, and your tree isn't going to look like it came right out of a box with all the decorations in perfect shape."

Steck cautioned parents to be careful about over-scheduling activities for young children. She noted that breakfasts with Santa and holiday light shows are fun, but they do take a lot of time, energy and financial resources.

"I've never known of a child who feels like they've been deprived because they didn't have all of those experiences," she said. "Children and families, whatever you build as your tradition is what they'll remember."

The holidays can be an especially hard time on those who have lost a loved one. Steck said including people who would otherwise be alone during the holidays is a nice way to refocus on the meaning of the season.

"If you have a lot to give, you should reach out and include someone else," she said. "If you're alone, look for that hand that is reaching out to you, and accept it. Because no season in the world is more about love than the holidays."

Steck said people should identify the traditions they want built into your holiday season, and make it a point to focus on those. It means setting priorities, letting go of impossible goals, and stopping to enjoy what you have accomplished. She added that stress relief includes getting enough rest and exercise to keep your physical health in check, too.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN