The holidays for some can bring on a great deal of stress. Whether it is scrambling to get last-minute presents, meal preparation for a large amount of people, or an every day burden of depression worsening during a “cheerful” time of year. Stress from the aforementioned triggers can greatly affect one’s depression, but does not have to be the sole reason for depression during the holidays. Loss, loneliness, and mental health disorders are a few reasons behind holiday depression. There are several ways to manage or cope with these feelings, which can be extremely vital at any time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “when stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup”. This is why they have come up with some prevention measure to avoid situations leading to depression triggers. The following are steps to take when managing and coping with depressive episodes:

• Acknowledge your feelings. If you have experienced loss or cannot be close to your loved ones this holiday, it is normal to feel sadness and grief. Happiness cannot be forced only because it is the holiday season.

• Reach out. If feeling lonely or isolated, seeking out community, religious, and social events can be helpful. They are a great way to offer companionship in this time.

• Learn to say no. Saying yes when one should say no can cause resentment or feeling overwhelmed.

• Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence can add to the stress and guilt. Take a long walk at night and stargaze, listen to soothing music, or read a book as a way to keep stress to a minimum.

• Take a breather. Set some alone time aside. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may be refreshing to tackle everything needing to be accomplished over the holiday.

• Seek professional help if needed. This is one of the most vital steps to follow. Despite best efforts, some may find themselves feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to a mental health professional or primary care physician.

For the full list from the Mayo Clinic, you can visit their website under Healthy Lifestyle and Stress Management.

It is extremely important to pay attention to not only physical needs of the body, but mental as well. Holidays can be a tough time, but there are proven steps to cope through these moments. For more information and resources available in Payne County, contact the TSET Healthy Living Program serving Payne County at 405.780.7309.

Lissette Minges is a TSET Healthy Living Program Specialist.