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Stress Less About the Holidays

Published: December 21, 2010

Don’t let unrealistic expectations sabotage your health this holiday season, cautions Jay Zimmerman, a staff psychologist with the Ball State University Counseling Center in Muncie, Indiana.

“Many of us wish that family gatherings were more like what we remember from our childhoods or see on television,” explains Zimmerman. “But dreams of a perfect holiday season can quickly become nightmares—and sometimes lead to bouts of depression.”

To treat yourself this holiday season, Zimmerman offers these five tips:

  • Avoid or reduce alcohol consumption. Liquor is a depressant that can deepen existing emotional problems.
  • Include exercise in your daily routine. A walk in the sunlight will add energy and help counteract seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Maintain close friendships and confide in those you trust. Talking about your feelings helps reduce or eliminate the blues.
  • Read one of the dozens of books on the market to discover stress-busting tips.
  • Face the facts. No holiday gathering is perfect.

Those who have feelings of depression lasting more than two weeks to seek professional advice, adds Zimmerman. Symptoms of depression may include sleeplessness or sleeping too much, a lack of appetite, inability to concentrate and feeling hopeless.

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