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Healthy Headlines: Coping with stress, depression with simple tips on maintaining the holiday spirit

St. Elizabeth Healthcare

You aren’t alone if the first things you think of around the holidays are stress and depression. But you don’t have to suffer through the holidays — learn to love them again with some simple tips on getting into the holiday spirit.

“You can learn to enjoy the holidays and not just endure them,” says Perry Bohanon, APRN who specialize in adult mental health at St. Elizabeth. “The two things that typically drive stress and depression over the holidays are over commitment and unrealistic expectations.”

Tips on Coping with Stress

When your calendar starts to fill up, and the invitations keep coming in for holiday get-togethers, Perry recommends taking a deep breath and focusing on what is important to you. He says, “So often we don’t take into consideration what is best for “ME” during the holidays, but that is just as important as learning how to cope with the stress.”

Perry also recommends:

▪ Manage Your Expectations. When we think of the holidays, we think of the perfect Norman Rockwell painting. We have an image of what it should be, not of what we want it to be. Forget the images in your head and decide what you feel comfortable doing. Be realistic and measured for what you and your family can do throughout the holiday season. It is important to set limits on your money, activities and time.

▪ Don’t Over Commit. Prioritize what is important to you and don’t say yes to everyone. Stagger events, so you have more balance. Create new family rituals at home if you need to stop and take a break from socializing. When you realize you aren’t having a good time, you need to slow down.

▪ Get Your Sleep. When you get stressed, analysis paralysis may set in. When this happens, you are more likely to get insomnia or have a hard time sleeping. If you are struggling with fatigue and sleeplessness, it is a signal that you need to step back and reassess your priorities.

▪ Eat Healthfully. Taking care of your body is even more important over the holidays. Make a plan when you are attending big gatherings so you don’t overeat. Also, make sure you are getting your fruits and vegetables so you have more energy.

▪ Limit Alcohol Use. Alcohol can interrupt sleep patterns, cause stomach issues and increase depression. Remember, it is important to treat your body well so you have the energy and stamina to make it through the New Year celebration.

▪Increase Exercise. The holiday is not the time to stop your normal exercise routine. In fact, ramping it up may help you cope with the extra stress. It can also help you sleep better.

▪ Carve Out Quiet Time. When you are socializing every day and night, you don’t have time to regroup and refuel. Make sure you schedule some time alone to have some solitude. Remember everything in moderation will give you more balance.

▪ Listen to Your Body. If you start to get tired, worn down, or feeling depressed, you need to reprioritize and find more balance. Symptoms of stress and anxiety include not sleeping, therefore you can become easily distracted or unable to focus. Recognizing this early and taking the steps necessary to slow down will help you enjoy the season more.

If the holiday stress becomes too much, help is out there. It is normal to recognize you may need some support — you can’t be everything to everyone.

For more information or to schedule an appointment at St. Elizabeth Physicians Outpatient Behavioral Health, please call (859) 301-5901 or visit stedocs.com.

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