Community Papers

Mental Health Matters: Christmas is coming — ready or not

There are many joys to the holiday season and yet many people feel stressed, lonely, worried, isolated or depressed more at this time of the year than any other time.

The excesses found now can further separate those who have and those who have not — and there are temptations to over-indulge with alcohol, unhealthy foods and activities we feel “obligated” to participate in rather than ones we look forward to.

If you are one of those people who dread the entire December season (and lately, Labour Day to New Year’s Day), then it is time for you to do something different from what you you have done in the past.

There are many ways to help you cope with the stresses and strains of the season and we have some here.

The theme of all of these tips is to take charge of how you feel, how you behave, what you think and your attitude.

Refuse to allow old patterns, beliefs, family members or “duties” to decide these things for you.

• Set a budget and make sure that you do not overspend, even if you are unable to get the “perfect” gift this year.

• Use your imagination to find creative gifts rather than expensive ones

• If you have extended family that like to use gatherings at the holiday season to fight, argue or drink too much, cheerfully decline invitations to attend those gatherings.

You need not be rude or judgmental, but many people have a blissfully peaceful Christmas alone and visit family just before and after the actual holiday.

• Get plenty of rest.

Prioritize and schedule your activities.

We all have things that we are required to do, but if at this time of the year, you need not feel pressured to do something if you really feel it is too much for you.

• Christmas is the time of the year with the fewest daylight hours.

Some of the “down” feelings at Christmas may be a mild seasonal affective disorder unrelated to the holidays themselves. You need to get as much sunshine as you can.

• Although it is the season for treats and excesses, maintain self-control.

Be sure to get plenty of exercise, avoid the junk foods and eat regular, healthy meals.

• Remember to live in the present.

The past is what it was and, if you have painful memories associated with this time of year, is it really necessary to re-live them and have that old history create your present reality?

Start new traditions to look forward to rather than have painful memories to look back on.

• Alcohol is a depressant and so is over-eating, in its own way.

Christmas and holidays have been moulded into an excuse to over-indulge, but you can decide to maintain control over your choices.

Christmas is only four weeks away but, if you start to think about and plan your path through the emotional landmines of the season, you will be more in control of your life and will realize there is much to enjoy about the season.

Every Christmas, we try to bring you at least one inspiring, feel-good Christmas story and we are on the lookout for more this year.

If you have a story you would like to share, email it to Kamloops@cmha.bc.ca — because we always love to hear from you.

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