‘Tis the season for holiday stress
SUMMIT COUNTY If you’ve been to the post office recently, you’ve probably already witnessed or experienced the build-up of stress that can be created during this time of year.Whether the source is relationships, finances, added physical demands or a combination, ’tis the season for increased stress. However, there are ways to reduce it, mental health officials said.”If people are mindful (of holiday stress and the causing factors) that can be really helpful,” Helen Royal, project coordinator for Advancing Colorado’s Mental Health Care Community Grant, said before going on to explain causes and offering tips to get through.Being thrust with family for days can be a source of stress or what is unique here is that many people are far away from their families, Royal said. That may mean you need to “get creative with creating a sense of community and family up here,” she added.Also, since living in a resort community is already a financial stress for many people, adding gifts and travel can make it worse so a budget is key.Another major source of holiday stress in Summit County, is that as the county gets busy, this translates into working more hours, Royal said. And often times people are not eating as well, are drinking more and are not exercising as much, she added.It is these main areas that trigger holiday stress, and people may not even realize what they’re up against, she said. Her advice is to take a moment to think about how you are doing in each of these aspects. Holiday stress usually kicks in around Thanksgiving and can run until after the New Year, with Christmas at the height of it all, Royal said. Also, some people just “bulldoze” through the holidays and experience a let down after from having worked extra or not seen family or simply from life returning to normal, she added. The five signs and symptoms to watch out for include: Irritability, losing sleep, losing or gaining weight, muscle aches/ headaches, being tense or feeling overwhelmed. However, these are also signs of depression, Royal said, adding that people need to be aware that there is a difference between holiday stress and depression and anxiety. If the symptoms continue for more than two weeks it may be time to seek professional help, she said.”It’s a hard time for people,” Royal said. “Realize things will happen and cut yourself some slack.”The following are tips from Royal, the Mayo Clinic and Family Education that may help with holiday stress. Acknowledge your feelings and seek support. For those away from family, that may mean volunteering to lift your spirits or organizing your own party. Be realistic. Recognize there are some traditions you can keep up with and in other cases, create new ones. Set differences aside and cut people some slack. Recognize they are probably under as much stress as you. Stick to a budget. Plan ahead. Expect travel delays. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with everything at once. Learn to say “No.” Even fun activities can cause stress because they may be tiring or cost money. Know your limitations. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Exercise, sleep, eat. Take a breather. Even if it is just for 15 minutes. Go in the bathroom at work or a place no one will bother you to take a break from thinking and just breathe. Forget about perfection.Additionally for families… Reassess and prioritize. Delegate things like chores. Don’t give in to the “gimmes.” Instead, use the opportunity to teach children about prices and do things together like baking. Go through old clothes and toys and donate them to charity. Be realistic about relatives Establish ground rules with college students before they come home.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Health America in Summit, a coalition of consumers, family members, mental health and medical professionals, law enforcement, legislators and more, will be brining awareness to a mental health issue each month. The next article that will appear in January will focus on nutrition and mood. A free peer support group meets Wednesdays at Timberline. For information contact Pete Fifield at Colorado West, 668-3478. Also, anyone in a crisis situation who needs immediate help can call 911 and ask for a counselor.
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