Dodge Holiday Stress With These Tips From REACH

What causes holiday blues?

There are many factors that can cause depression or "blues" during the holidays. The demands of shopping, office parties, house guests, fatigue, stress, having unrealistic expectations, financial problems and not being able to be with friends and family can all cause problems.

Those who do not become depressed may develop other stress responses, such as headaches, drinking or eating too much, and difficulty sleeping. After Jan. 1, many people experience post holiday let-down, which can result from disappointments during the holidays as well as excess fatigue and stress.

The staff at REACH, the UC employee assistance program coordinated by University Health Services, wants to help everyone get through the holiday season with a minimum of stress. To that end, the following tips are offered:

Eat and Drink in Moderation, and Be Sure to Exercise. Don't overindulge. Maintain a regular exercise schedule and enjoy holiday parties and events in moderation. Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression

Develop Family Traditions and Activities Involving Children. Be sure to make time for your family to enjoy activities together such as decorating the tree, making gifts, singing holiday songs or playing games.

Be Aware of Loss and Grief Issues that May Surface. With a lot of emphasis on family togetherness during the holidays, this can be a particularly hard time for those grieving the loss of a loved one, or separation from a loved one. Try to focus on the future. Avoid being alone -- spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you haven't heard from for awhile. Try volunteering some time to help others or join a support group.

Try Something New. Life brings about changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don't set yourself up in comparing today with the "good old days." Try celebrating the holidays in a new way.

Stay on Budget. Overspending during the holiday season is common. Keep in mind that what you might gain from buying an expensive gift probably won't make up for the stress and mental anguish of overspending. Avoid using credit cards and stay within your budget. Enjoy activities that are free, like driving around to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping or just making a snowman with children.

Keep Expectations for the Holiday Season Manageable. Don't wait until the last minute to tackle shopping and other errands that need to be done for the holidays. Plan ahead and look for ways to reduce stress when shopping, such as shopping online. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. Be realistic about what you can achieve.

Be Sensitive to Children in Divorced Families. Sharing time with parents separately during the holiday season can be very stressful for children. When kids return from time with one parent, make sure to take the time to spend one on one: enjoy a book, play a game or even watch a movie together.

Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others help in sharing the responsibility of activities. Here's wishing you happy holidays from the staff at REACH!

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